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GOAL Assignment (see text)

July GOAL Assignment Photos: Photographing Action Sequences.

This action sequence of Ronnie Prettyman was taken at a Tacoma Rainiers baseball game last week. I used my D2X set to AF-C to track his sprint towards first base. My shutter speed was 1/800 ~ 1/1000 sec. I kept my left auto focus sensors aimed at Ronnie's jersey for the duration of the sequence. Click image for a larger view (3000px) of the sequence.


Here's a crop of the image so you can see how well the shot stayed in focus during the sequence. Notice how there is no motion blur on the player. This stems from the high shutter speed.


On the higher-end cameras such as the D200, the switch to select between Continuous Servo Autofocus and Single Servo Autofocus is on the outside of the body. Choose C (Continuous) for action sequences.


Here's another shot from the day of Adam Jones taking a catch in right field. It isn't an action sequence, but it uses the same principles and techniques. I let my camera acquire focus, then kept my finger on the autofocus button (shutter release) until the action was finished.




August GOAL Assignment: Shooting Landscapes After Sunset.
This month, I'd like you to go out and take some images like this after the sun has set. See what happens!




Photo Techniques: Losing my creativity
When you feel like your creativity is waning, try something new! The Foss Waterway in downtown Tacoma, Washington is a big industrial area. I've never photographed there before, so lately I've been trying to capture the area on film. It has proven great fun and has challenged me to see Tacoma in a new way.

Sunset over the Foss Waterway. D2X, 12-24mm, Gitzo tripod.


Grain elevators and ship. D2X, 70-200mm, 1.4x TC, handheld from boat with VR active.


USS Cape Intrepid and USS Cape Island. D2X, 70-200mm, 1.4x TC, handheld from boat with VR active.

Tacoma Glass Museum from the Foss Waterway. D2x, 24-75mm, handheld from boat with VR active.

Digital Tidbits: Recovering from a Salt Water Dousing.
Here's the tugboat that caused the wake that caused the salt water to douse our boat and my camera gear!


Tacoma Narrows Bridge taken before the water dousing.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge taken immediately after the water dousing. Nikon cameras are bullet proof and hold up under pressure! I'm sold!


On the way back from photographing the bridge, I saw this great old boat named "Winfred" slowly motoring by. By continuing to stay alert for photographs, even after near disaster, I found some nice shots!


August 2007 Newsletter

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - August 2007

Greetings all! It has been a month full of photography for me and I hope that you’ve also been out shooting. This month, I’ve photographed beaches, hiking trails, sand dunes, bridges, boats, family portraits, Minor League Baseball and lighthouses. Whew!

I’ve also been pretty busy with my other job as Director of the Nikonians Academy (www.nikoniansacademy.com). I have hired three additional instructors to teach our workshops around the USA. These guys are all professional photographers and are also some of the best photo instructors in the country. I am proud to have them on board as partners. They are:
- Winston Hall (www.tunerphotography.com)
- Darryll Schiff (www.schiffphoto.com)
- Carmine Picarello (www.picarellophoto.com)

We’ve expanded our Nikonians workshops to a huge number of cities all around the USA and Canada. Topics include D200, D80/D70, iTTL Flash, D2X, Nikon Capture NX, Digital Printing and Fine Art photography. In addition to the new photographers and workshops, I’m also putting together some larger trips such as African safaris and European photo tours for our 2008 Nikonians Schedule. We are going to have great fun travelling around the globe together!

In other news, I am continuing to make progress on my new book titled “Digital Asset Management for the Rest of Us”. It should be published at the end of summer/beginning of fall. This book will be written to help you determine the very best way to organize, file, keyword and store all your digital images. You’re going to like it!

July 2007 GOAL Assignment: Getting Sharp Action Photos
Last month, I asked you to shoot some action photos with the goal to get sharp images. The purpose was to shoot a series of pictures of something running towards you or away from you. A number of you wrote me and sent me links to the images you took. It is exciting to see how many of you participate in the monthly Get Out And Learn assignments! Some of the shots you took were great. Others … not so much. But that’s part of what makes learning so fun! We get to try, and then try some more until we achieve success.

So, how do we photograph great action sequences? Here are some of my thoughts and recommendations.

There is a direct interaction between your camera, your lens, your mind and your body. I know, I sound like some kind of self-help guru, but it’s true. You have to coordinate your mind with your hand as well as fully understand the technology you are working with.

One of the misconceptions about autofocus is that it should just work as long as you point it in the direction of your photo. The truth is that autofocus doesn’t work well at all, unless you understand its limitations.

Autofocus modes these days generally come in two varieties, “Continuous Servo” autofocus and “Single Servo” autofocus. Continuous servo allows the camera to continuously track your subject as it moves. It never stops focusing and continuously changes with your subject’s distance from the camera.

Single servo focuses on an object and then stops focusing. Single should be used in situations where you want to focus and then recompose. For example, maybe you are photographing a flower and want to place it on the left side of the picture. You focus on the flower, lock the focus and then re-aim the camera so the flower is on the left. You don’t use Single Servo autofocus for shooting action sequences.

Since Continuous Servo will continually track a subject, it is obviously best suited to sports or action photography. For example, let’s say that you are photographing a baseball player running down the first base line. Continuous servo will track him as he runs towards you. The focus motor (i.e. servo) continually rotates and keeps the baseball player focused. Look at the photos to the left to see a sequence of shots taken in Continuous Servo autofocus.

Choosing continuous servo on a professional camera body is easy since there’s almost always a switch or button on the outside. For example, the D200 and D2X have a switch on the bottom of the camera marked C, S, M. The C stands for continuous. On pro-sumer camera models, you’ll generally have to go into the camera’s menu system and choose either “AF-S” or “AF-C”. Again, the C stands for continuous.

The next thing that helps us get good action photos is using a lens that focuses fast. In general, f2.8 lenses acquire focus extremely quickly and are able to track focus very well. When photographing action sequences, I’m almost always using my f2.8 lenses. I’ve done a great job of tracking action with slower f5.6 lenses too. The key is to make sure that your subject is in bright light and that your subject contrasts nicely with the background. If your subject blends in with the background, such as a green jersey against green grass, then you’re going to have problems with autofocus tracking.

Another thing that really helps your lens focus fast is a silent wave motor. Most lenses these days have either a mechanical drive motor or a silent wave motor. The mechanical drive autofocus lenses are actually powered by the camera body. They have a little gear that engages with the camera that then turns the focusing ring on the lens. This system can sometimes be a bit slow and can cause your image to become out of focus because the camera can’t keep up with the action.

Silent wave motors are actually built into the lens itself and are very quick to focus. Most professional sports photographers use these lenses because they are so quick. Nikon lenses use the “AF-S” designation and Canon uses “USM” designation to indicate that the lens is silent wave. So, what are you to do if you don’t have an AF-S lens? Learn to use what you have and fully understand its limitation. You’ll just have to make sure the subject is in focus and the camera has had enough time to lock on before you start taking pictures.

The next topic to consider for getting sharp action sequences is shutter speed. You could have done everything right up to this point but still come away with soft, blurry shots because your shutter speed was too slow. Perhaps your lens was focused properly, but the subject moved while the shutter was open which created a blurry photograph. For example, I was shooting photos at a Minor League Baseball game last week and wanted to get some shots of the players during the action. I made sure that my shutter speed was at least 1/500 sec. Even then, I noticed motion blur, so I ended up increasing my ISO to 400 in order to get shutter speeds up to 1/1250 sec. It was only then when my shots started to look really crisp. At the other end of the spectrum, I took some shots at 1/15 sec of the pitcher as he threw the ball that came out looking pretty neat. The pitcher was in focus, but his motion caused the blur.

So, here are the steps to getting sharp action sequences:
1. Set your camera to continuous autofocus (also called AF-C).
2. Use a fast shutter speed around 1/500 or 1/1000 sec.
3. Aim your camera at the subject and acquire focus before the action sequence starts. Do this by pressing the shutter release or AF-ON button and holding it down.
4. Keep your finger on the shutter release (or AF-ON button) during the entire sequence.
5. Keep your active autofocus sensor directly on the subject. Think of your autofocus sensor as your gun sight. If you move the sight off the target, you miss the shot.
6. Pan at the same rate as the subject and follow through with the motion even after you have stopped shooting.
7. Hold your camera very steady. No wobbles or shaky movements.
8. Learn to anticipate the action. Start focusing early because most of the time your camera won’t be able to acquire focus if the action has already started.


August 2007 GOAL Assignment: Shooting Landscapes After Sunset
Your Get Out And Learn assignment this month is to take some photographs after the sun sets! This is one of the most magical times of day to take photographs and can never get enough of it. Next month, I’ll give you some great tips and tricks for getting stellar shots after the sun has gone to rest. Check out the seascape image to the left to see what I’m talking about!

Photo Techniques: Losing my creativity. Going stale. What to do about it?
(note: see images to the left)

A gentleman who had attended one of my workshops a few years ago wrote me an email last week that went something like this: “Mike, I’ve improved at my photography, but feel like I’m getting stale. I love to take pictures, but am bored with the images I’m currently shooting. I’m losing my creativity. What do you suggest?”

Surprisingly, I’ve received a number of comments like this from people over the years and I think that just about everyone suffers from this malady every once in a while. Keeping yourself motivated and enthusiastic about photography can be an uphill battle; especially since technology is changing so quickly and we all feel the need to keep up with the Joneses.

One of the best ways I’ve found to get out of my “Stale Mode” is give myself a new goal. For example, years before I had become a professional photographer, I also felt like my photography didn’t have a purpose or a focus. I was tired of shooting the same old thing, so I gave myself a goal to publish a photograph in a magazine or newspaper by the end of the year. This goal set me in motion in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. All of a sudden I had to do a critical review of my portfolio and I had to prepare images to show magazine editors. It added excitement, urgency and a sense of accomplishment to my photography. It gave me a reason to improve and a reason to keep trying.

If you aren’t interested in getting published, then find another goal that appeals to you. For example, offer to donate some pictures to a local charity or take pics of your neighbor’s pets.

It could also be something as simple as just photographing a different subject matter. For example, rather than take landscape photos, I’ll decide to focus entirely on portraits of people on the street. Perhaps I’ll take photos of shoes or mushrooms. Or I’ll grab some flowers from my garden and bring them into the kitchen. Take studio shots. Go down to the old lady's house at the corner and ask her if you can take photos of her while she's gardening. Better yet, do some gardening for her and ask her if you can take images of her flowers. Then, give the photos to her as a gift.

Photography needs to be fun in order for us to keep our interest. Most photographers don’t rely on photography to pay their mortgages, so the reason they do it is to provide excitement and pleasure to their lives. If photography has stopped being fun for you, then it is time to reassess your motives. It is time to try to understand why you are doing it. For me, it is a passion. I do it because I enjoy the challenge of creating art. I enjoy the perfect blend of art and science.

As an example of a new subject I’ve been working on lately, I’ve started taking photographs of the industrial and cargo shipping areas of Tacoma, Washington. Why? I don’t know. Just because it helps keep my interest in photography and I enjoy finding new photo subjects. See the photos to the left to see some new shots of the Foss Waterway in Tacoma.

By trying something totally new or out of your comfort zone, it forces you to learn a new technique or method. It also forces you to be creative in a different way. There are a million ways to expand your mind with photography; all it takes is a tiny bit of motivation to try something new. You might be surprised with the results!

Digital Tidbits: Recovering from a Salt Water Dousing. Last week I was out taking photographs of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge and had a bit of a run-in with some salt water and my camera equipment! The brand new suspension bridge was just completed a few days prior and over 50,000 of my closest friends had celebrated the opening by walking over it. A couple days after the opening ceremony, I went out in a boat to take photos from the water for my stock files. The weather was perfectly calm and the water was smooth as glass.

As we made our way towards the bridge, I noticed a really big tug boat motoring by and decided to take some stock photos of it. The shots were decent and we continued our tour of the bridge without paying any more attention to the tug boat. A few minutes after the boat passed, we encountered the tug boat’s wake. Not just any wake, but the WAKE! One thing you should know about really big tug boats is that they make really big waves! We turned the boat towards the wake to take it on at the standard 45 degree wake attack angle (also known as WAA as you’ll see in a minute).

Unfortunately, as the photo shoot progressed that morning, I had placed all my camera gear out on the seats of the boat so I could switch lenses quickly. Using my Nikon D200 camera, I was switching between my 12-24mm, 28-75mm and my 70-200mm lenses. I also had my 1.4x TC and a few other items out as well. Additionally, I left my camera bag wide open too, so I could quickly get to any other filters or memory cards if needed.

So, there I was with all my camera gear lying on the seat of the boat while we approached the WAKE! I’ve been boating for years and have never been swamped from a boat wake, but this time, my luck ran out. As we crossed the waves, a wall of salt water crashed over the bow and doused all my camera gear. It wasn’t just a “splash” of salt water; it was a behemoth gob of salt water. I’m talking gallons and gallons of salty, corrosive, camera killing salt water! Just like the waves in Deadliest Catch. Well, not really, but it sure felt that way after I looked down at my camera gear! Everyone in the boat was dripping wet and of course, all my camera gear was sporting a nice new layer of salt water too.

A wave of panic quickly swept over me while I contemplated $5000 of ruined gear. I started to get grumpy, then I snapped out of it and instantly began cleaning off the equipment. Fortunately, we had a bunch of towels in the boat, so I used the dry corners of the towels to wipe off all of the lenses and the D200 camera body. I then peered into my camera bag and noticed a few inches of standing water in the bottom, so I took out all of its contents and dumped the water over the side of the boat.

After wiping everything down, I set all the gear back on the seat to inspect it piece by piece. It appeared as though the water hadn’t made its way into the camera body or lenses. I was amazed to see the results of Nikon’s excellent weather seals. Also, I was amazed to see that the camera was still functioning properly. I hadn’t turned off the camera during my cleaning and so it was still turned on. I decided to take a picture to find out if it would short out and to my relief, it worked! So, I continued taking pictures for the rest of the boat ride. Awesome.

As soon as we docked the boat, I headed for home to do the second round of cleaning. I set all my equipment out on a big table and used a number of cotton towels to further wipe down the lenses and camera. The first towel was soaked with fresh water and I wiped it across all the exteriors of each piece of equipment. I then immediately took a dry towel to wipe off the residue and drops of water. I did this sequence twice for each item and then let them all air dry for the rest of the day. Additionally, since my camera bag had been filled with salt water, I thoroughly wiped it out and dried it two times.

Now, one week after the salt water event, all my equipment is still working and I am relieved! I learned a few lessons from this episode:

1. Professional Nikon gear is tough and the weather proofing on the D200 works! Who would have guessed that drowning a modern digital camera with salt water would result in no damage? Kudos to Nikon for making such great equipment.
2. I got the shot! I tell people all the time that your equipment needs to be out and ready at all times. We shouldn’t be afraid to expose our camera gear to the elements, otherwise we miss great shots. Our cameras are tools and we shouldn’t be afraid to use our tools in bad weather or crazy elements. Granted, salt water isn’t the friendliest of elements, but keeping your camera gear with you at all times is the only way to get great shots.
3. Use filters. I keep filters on all my lenses when I’m out on my trips. I take the filters off when I want ultimate image resolution/quality or when I need to reduce lens flare, but in this case, I had filters on my lenses because I knew I might get salt spray on the front elements. If I didn’t have filters on this trip, all my lenses would have had buckets of salt water poured all over the front elements and that would have been bad. When I returned home, I took all my filters off and washed them and cleaned them with my lens cleaning equipment.
4. Don’t fret. Yes, losing a bunch of camera gear would have been a big bummer, but there are more important things in life to worry about. After the event, I quickly shook off my frustration and continued shooting. I got some of my nicest shots of the day after the water fiasco!

Workshop Updates
Almost all the workshops I am leading for the rest of this year are completely sold out! That is exciting for me, but frustrating for many of you who have contacted me about the next series of workshops. I am now putting together a schedule for 2008 that will have more workshops and more cities. Additionally, I have hired on a number of excellent instructors for the Nikonians Academy (www.nikoniansacademy.com) that will be teaching my curriculum all around the USA during the remainder of 2007.

The Art of Travel Workshops
Our 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07 North Cascades Art of Travel workshop is completely sold out and we have a started a waiting list. We’ll have many more Art of Travel workshops in 2008, so be prepared for fun, adventure and amazing photography! Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have dramatically expanded our workshops and instructor base through the Nikonians. Please go to www.nikoniansacademy.com to see all the new cities and the new topics! We are offering topics such as Fine Art Photography, Digital Printing, D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the Nikonians. If you are thinking of signing up, then you had better hurry! Seats are selling quickly and there are quite a few workshops that are already completely sold out in various cities.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. Our remaining workshops this year are offered through the Nikonians (www.nikoniansacademy.com) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. All remaining D200 workshops in 2007 are being run through the Nikonians (http://www.nikoniansacademy.com). Go here for more details on class content: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
These are some of our most popular workshops and sell out quickly wherever we run them. If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. The remaining workshops in 2007 will be offered through the Nikonians Academy (www.nikoniansacademy.com) More info on class content at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_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:
Get out there and take some great shots this month. As always, feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions or need assistance.

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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GOAL Assignment (see text)

June GOAL Assignment Photos: Get Out And Serve!.

One of the highlights of my year was the 10 days I spent photographing for the Covenant Youth Camp in Unalakleet, Alaska in June 2007. This was the highschool group for 2007 and Kids came from all around Alaska from places like Seward, Shaktoolik, Nome, Wasilla and Hooper Bay.


The landscape is beautiful in this region with tundra, mountains and trees as far as the eye can see. This is the Unalakleet River about 15 miles out of the villiage of Unalakleet Alaska.


A warm smile.


Jumping for joy at the end of a hike.


Getting hot water ready for doing the dishes.


The annual Chicken Fighting games on the Alaskan Tundra!


Another service project I particpated in last month was preparing food for the Friday Night Feed in downtown Tacoma, Washington on June 29th, 2007. Here, my family and I are putting together hundreds of sandwiches that we'll hand out in a few hours.


Here's the crowd of folks in line for a free meal. The tables in back are from volunteers like us who came and brought their own food to hand out.


Lots of people come out to make the atmosphere jovial and fun. This saxophone player is there every week playing tunes for everyone to dance and sing to!


Yet another service project we worked with was at Children of the Nations in Silverdale, Washington on July 3rd, 2007. Here, we are loading up a container with food, shoes, clothing and soccer balls that will be sent to Uganda.


Loading up clothing and other supplies takes lots of elbow grease!


The group prays for the container as it leaves on a two month journey to Uganda. Its path will take it through oceans, dirt roads, shipping yards, corrupt border agents, bandits and hopefully to its final destination in Uganda where it will feed thousands of hungry people.


Photo Techniques: What Tripod Should I Buy?

Gitzo 1530 Tripod. Very small and lightweight. Use this tripod when you have to go light and fast. You can safely use this tripod with small SLR cameras and smaller lenses. Don't expect it to work for a professional size camera like the D2X with a big lens.


The Markins Q3 is a perfect match for the Gitzo 1530. Markins makes awesome ballhead that are tough and smooth. You can buy Markins at www.photoproshop.com.


Gitzo 3530 Tripod. This is a heavier duty tripod that will work well for a pro-sized camera with up to a 300mm f2.8 lens. I use this tripod when I work out of an automobile or can handle the larger weight.


The Markins M20 is the largest ballhead in their line and is perfectly suited to the Gitzo 3530 or 5540.


You'll also need camera plates for each of your camera bodies. Markins makes these as well. This is what the plate looks like for the Nikon D200.



July 2007 Newsletter

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - July 2007

Happy July friends! Up here in Washington State it is the beginning of summer and we are thoroughly enjoying the warmer and longer days. I was just out shooting pictures of summer softball games a couple days ago and was thinking about how much fun it is to photograph during the summer. While taking pictures, my son noticed a little spider web in the chain link fence. The spider was absolutely tiny and the web was correspondingly small. I had to take a pic! The joy of photography for me is always finding new things in my environment that might otherwise be missed. Photography keeps me on my toes and makes me much more aware of my surroundings.

Progress on our new book titled “Digital Asset Management for the Rest of Us” is going well. I’m hoping to have the book ready for sale by the end of September. This new book will be an excellent guide for those of you who want to create a simple, easy to use digital image filing system. There are so many options and software packages out there designed to “help” you that it is sometimes overwhelming trying to figure out what works best. That’s the purpose of this new book; to help you navigate the sea of software and finally arrive at a method that works for you.

The focus of the book will be on non-professional photographers who don’t necessarily have a need for submitting images to clients. I’ll be focusing on people who use their images for family events, high school football games, travels to Europe and everyday life. People who want to be able to get back to images and use them for their own purposes. This book will be written in a way that directly helps you organize your digital life!


June GOAL Assignment: Serve Someone with Your Images

(see images to the left) Last month I asked you to spend some time serving other people with your images. We all have the ability to spend a few hours a month sharing our talents and skills with other people and organizations. Little do we know how much little acts of service will ultimately inspire others and bring them joy.

As a businessman, I am continually focused on the bottom line. I know that I have to pay the bills and keep revenue coming into my bank account in order to pay the mortgage each month. I am often torn between my desire to make a buck and my desire to donate my time. Like most of you, I watch the clock like a hawk and frequently think about the next opportunity that might come down the pike. However, I can say without a doubt that the time I have spent serving has been returned in blessings ten-fold. Each and every moment I spend giving has been repaid to me time and again in goodwill, rewards and joy.

Should service be part of your business plan? Yes! In fact, I say that service should be a part of your life plan. We are directly called to serve others and we have a responsibility to assist those in need.

So in this month’s GOAL review, I thought I’d share with you some of my recent service adventures and hopefully inspire you to get out and serve on your own.

Over the last month I participated in one major service project and a few minor service projects. The major project was a trip to a small Alaskan village called Unalakleet. The minor projects were serving food to the homeless in Tacoma, Washington and also loading up a shipping container filled with humanitarian supplies that is headed for Uganda.

The trip to Alaska was for a summer camp (www.cyak.org) that is located in a remote corner of Norton Sound on the West coast of Alaska. Unalakleet is a fairly large village of about 700 people and is home to mostly Eskimo families. Years ago, a wise group of people decided to start a youth camp about 10 miles from town on the Alaskan tundra next to the North River.

The youth camp’s purpose is to bring in kids from other places throughout Alaska and just show them love for a week out of their lives. Alaska is a tough place to grow up if you are young. There are terrible stories of physical abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse and depression. The camp shows these kids that there are people who love and care for them; people who want to help them succeed.

I attended the High School and Jr. High weeks of the camp. My purpose was to take photos and video that the camp leadership could use for promotional purposes. As with most camps across the world, resources are tight and finding money in a budget for “media services” is a tough sell. So, I donated my time and am putting together slide shows, videos, web galleries and other media that they can use for fund raising.

For the trip, I took my “small” Think Tank Speed Racer camera bag loaded to the gills with gear. I brought along a Nikon D2X, Nikon D80, 12-24mm, 28-75mm, 70-200mm, 50mm, 1.4xTC, 2.0xTC, SB-800 flash, Gitzo tripod, batteries, 20 GB of memory cards, two battery operated hard drives, polarizer, Graduated ND filter and a Canon HV-10 High Def video camera. All of the gear worked flawlessly and never faltered once!

As is usually the case when you volunteer, you come away with more from the experience than you give. I was struck at how lives are changed. I was struck at how pain can be turned to joy. I was amazed at the selflessness of the fifty volunteers who cooked, cleaned, counseled, supported, talked and led during these weeks. I can’t wait to go back next year and lend a helping hand again.

A second service project I participated in last month was to head into downtown Tacoma, Washington and serve meals to the homeless. This was part of a weekly ministry called the Tacoma Street Ministry, put on by the Christian Biker Tabernacle (www.christianbikertabernacle.org) and is called “Friday Night Feed”. My goal for helping out was two-fold. First, I wanted to serve food! Second, I wanted to take photographs so the organizations that help out at this weekly event could use them on their websites and brochures.

I have two children and feel strongly that they should also be involved in service. So, they helped with preparing the food in our house and also serving the food downtown. We spent that afternoon preparing ham and cheese sandwiches and baking cookies. Later that evening, we met up with some friends of ours underneath a highway overpass and set up tables to serve the food.

At 8pm, the line starts moving and we hand out food to folks who need food. Other people hand out clothes and blankets. Others hand out hugs and smiles. Others assist with dental care. Others just walk around and talk. It is a simple way to help those who need to eat.

For this service project I took my D2X, 70-200, 12-24mm and 28-75 lenses in my Think Tank Speed Racer camera bag. I didn’t bring a tripod or any lighting equipment just because I wanted to be fairly portable. Most of my shots were at higher ISOs and wide open apertures so I could hand-hold without motion blur.

Finally, on July 3rd (a couple days ago) my family and I volunteered with Children of the Nations (www.cotni.org) to fill up a shipping container with food, clothes, shoes and soccer balls for a village in Uganda. A few months ago over 1,000 volunteers gathered in Silverdale, Washington to make up 285,000 meals for starving children in Uganda, Africa. Yes, two hundred and eighty five thousand meals! After the meals were prepared, we needed to load them onto cargo containers so they could be shipped to Africa. A group of about 30 people loaded up the container (in two hours!) and then sent it on its two-month journey through container yards, ships, trucks, customs, roads, dirt and rain.

Again, my purpose was to help load the container, but also donate a bunch of photographs that they can use on their website and in their newsletters. My camera gear here consisted of a D80 camera and small 28-75mm f2.8 lens. I kept it in a little fanny pack so that I could swing it around back while lifting boxes and then swing it around front when I wanted to take some photographs.

What are you doing on this summer vacation? On your next trip to the Grand Canyon, put some thought into how you might serve someone while on your trip. How about on your drive home from work? Why don’t you take the next exit by the YMCA and photograph their evening swimming program so they can use it in their monthly newsletter. What about this Friday night? How about going downtown and photographing the Street Feeding program so they can put some images on their website?


July 2007 GOAL Assignment: Getting Sharp Action Photos
This month, I’d like to challenge you to take a series of photos of something moving rapidly towards you or away from you. For example, a baseball player, a dog, a motorcycle, a bus, an airplane, a bird, a bride. I’d like you to try and get a full series of in-focus action sequence photographs. You’d be surprised at how many questions I get each month around this very topic!

In August’s newsletter, I’ll provide some answers and tutorials on how to get sharp action/motion photographs from your camera. I’ll include mistakes, successes, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your camera’s autofocus system. So, get out there and learn.


Photo Techniques: What Kind of Tripod Should I Buy?
(note: see images to the left)

One of the most frequent questions I get is “what kind of tripod should I buy?” The answer is easy for me to give, but very difficult for others to hear! Why? Because my recommendation will cost you a lot of money!

When people go searching for tripods, they are always looking for the lowest cost tripod that will do the job. Unfortunately, it isn’t until after the purchase that photographers realize they made a big mistake.

For example, how many of you have gone out and bought a big aluminum behemoth because a salesman told you that it was “the sturdiest tripod out there.” Obviously, we all need a sturdy tripod! Seriously, we do. So you brought that tripod home, opened the box and set it up in your living room. You took a photo of the kitchen. You took a photo of the deck. You took a photo in the backyard. Life was good.

Or was it? Life was good until you decided to take that tripod out on a photo adventure! Trying to pack along that big aluminum behemoth was a sweaty, arduous event! After about 15 minutes lugging it around, your left shoulder started to hurt, then your right shoulder started to hurt and then your back hurt and then your fingers hurt and then you realize that you bought the wrong tripod. Your brain hurts!

Here’s what I tell people about buying tripods: go to the bank and take out $1,200. Now go buy the nicest Gitzo carbon fiber legs you can find for $650. Next, go buy the nicest ball head you can get for $400. Next, buy mounting plates for your cameras and lenses with the remaining money. Now, you have a tripod and head that will work just about anywhere and that you will actually take with you everywhere you go.

Personally, I currently own a couple of older Gitzo carbon fiber tripods (1127 and 1327). I consider these to be some of the best photographic purchases I have ever made. They are durable, light weight and easy to use. They have lifetime warrantees, but you’ll never need to use the warranty because they just don’t break. I’ve dropped mine on rocks, taken them climbing, used them in salt water and dragged them from one side of terra firma to the other! The best models now are the Gitzo 6X models with the G-Lock legs and they are just awesome.

If you can swing it, I recommend having at least two tripods; one very small model and one heavy duty model. I like to have a small tripod for when I need to travel really light. For this, I use the Gitzo 1127 with the Markins Q3 head since the combination is so small. I carry it when I go on overnight hikes, when I’m mountaineering and anytime I have to be fast on my feet. The 1127 tripod is now discontinued, but the replacement is the 1530 6X model.

This setup will only really carry a smaller camera like a Nikon D80/D40 with a smaller lens. In a pinch, I’ve used this setup with a D2X and a 70-200 f2.8, but I had to use a cable release and be extremely careful not to cause any vibration. The truth is that this smaller tripod just won’t cut it for a professional size camera and larger f2.8 glass.

For my heavier duty tripod, I use the Gitzo 1327 with the Markins M20 head whenever I need more stability for bigger cameras/lens combinations. I also use it when I photograph places and I’m based out of an automobile. The stability that the stiffer tripod affords is dramatic when compared to smaller models! The current replacement for the Gitzo 1327 is the Gitzo 3530 and it uses the newer 6X carbon fiber legs for even more rigidity. In my experience, this setup will adequately hold a professional size camera (Nikon D2X, Canon Mk III) and a 300mm f2.8. If you are really careful, you can squeak by when shooting with a 400mm f2.8, but really if you want to use larger lenses than a 300mm or 400mm f2.8 , I recommend the Gitzo GT5540LS.

I think the head is more important than the legs and is absolutely critical to getting the best image possible. I personally use the Markins M20 on my Gitzo 1327 legs and a Markins Q3 on my Gitzo 1127 legs. I bought them from www.photoproshop.com. You’ll need to get a plate for each camera body you own as well as a plate for any lens that has a mounting foot. I use the Markins heads because their build quality is superb and also because they behave exactly as I expect them to behave: perfect! When I aim my camera at something and lock down the ball head, it doesn’t creep or shift. It stays right where I aim it. That’s what we should expect from a high end ballhead.

The problem with skimping on a head and purchasing a low end model is that they creep, shift, stick and bind. At critical moments or in extreme weather, they always seem to fail. Like you, I’ve used my fair share of them and will never go back!

There are two other ballhead companies I recommend. The first is Kirk Enterprises (www.kirkphoto.com). They make the BH-1 for larger camera/lenses and the BH-3 for smaller setups. The second company I recommend is Really Right Stuff (www.reallyrightstuff.com). They make three heads; the BH-55, BH-40 and BH-25. Both Kirk and RRS manufacture incredible products and come highly recommended.

So, the long and the short of it is this – don’t skimp on your tripod. Buy the nicest tripod and ballhead you can afford and you’ll never regret it. I guarantee your Gitzo carbon fiber tripod will last a lifetime.

Thanks:
My hope is that you use this month’s information to motivate yourself into action as well as to take great images. Now get out and take some 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






Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

May GOAL Assignment Answers: Photos at High Noon.

Here's a photo that was taken mid-day in a bright and sunny situation. Normally, this is more contrast than a camera can record. To get around this limitation, I took a series of four photographs at different exposures, and then merged them together using Photoshop's "Merge to HDR" function. This image is the result of that merge.


This is a screen shot of Adobe Bridge. You can see the four images I selected to merge (they are in gray outlines).


To access the Merge to HDR function from Bridge, go to Tools --> Photoshop --> Merge to HDR.



This was the darkest shot in the series.


This was the brightest shot in the series.


In this screenshot, you can see the results of processing a single RAW file five different times. Each time I processed the file, I saved it as a TIFF. Then, I brought the image into Adobe Bridge and ran the Merge to HDR function.


This is the final result from processing a single image through Merge to HDR.


This shot of the church was taken at 12:30pm. The colors are ok, but it could have used some help from a polarizer.


Here's the same church at the same time of day as above, but I used a polarizer to pop the colors, darken the sky and cut out the haze.


If the sun is high and bright, simply turn your subject away from the sun so their face is in shadow. No more raccoon eyes!


Another alternative to getting decent shots at mid-day is to wait until a cloud blocks the sun. This shot was taken in exactly that scenario. I waited to take shots until the sun was hidden.


This great couple lives in Hood River Oregon and let me photograph around their house for a few hours. When I was finished, I asked them if I could take a photo of them. I moved them to their porch so they were out of the direct sun.


Rather than snap a shot of these high-schoolers in the direct sun, I took them indoors and asked them to pose by a big window. The light is much more pleasing!


A montage of happiness and joy.
I was hiking along a trail in Texas when I saw these cactus flowers. In the direct sun (top) the tips of the petals were blown out and the shadows had turned almost black. I shaded the area with my body (bottom) and it resulted in a much more pleasing contrast range.




Digital Tidbits: Data Storage in the Field.
Here's the Wolverine Flashpac. I own two of the 80GB models and use them for most of my trips when backing up data in the field.



June 2007 Newsletter

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - June 2007

Howdy folks! It’s been another amazing month for photography and I hope that you are outside enjoying taking photos. I’ve been so busy leading workshops around the USA and traveling that I haven’t been able to write the June newsletter until just now! Many of you have written to make sure that I’m still alive and kickin’ and the answer is, yes! There are just too many pictures to take and not enough time to fit it all in.

I have recently returned from leading workshops in the New York and Boston areas. The experience was excellent and I was able to spend a few days up in Maine taking images of the lighthouses and small harbors. I even enjoyed a succulent lobster meal in a small town called York, Maine. Oh man was that good stuff. Lobster, clams and a bowl of chowder. Heaven. I’m going back the first opportunity I get!

Additionally, I just returned from 9 days volunteering up in a little village in Alaska called Unalakleet at a summer camp. My purpose was to create photography and video material that they can use in their fundraising efforts. What great fun it has been to meet lots of new people, take photos in new locations and enjoy the amazing scenery. It was an amazing opportunity to swat some mosquitoes, take amazing photos of the midnight sun and work with Alaskan youth.

I wanted to thank you all for the great response to our September Art of Travel Photography workshop. We are sold out and have formed a waiting list. We’ll soon be publishing dates for our 2008 workshop schedule which will include a number of travel workshops and some exciting new topics. Stay tuned, it’s going to be fun!

Over the next couple months I’ll be working on completing a couple of new book titles. One of which will be called “Digital Asset Management for the Rest of Us.” Additionally, I’ll be working on updating our website, creating new workshops and most importantly, taking lots of photographs!


May GOAL Assignment: Create Beautiful Photos at High Noon

(see images to the left) Your Get Out And Learn assignment for May was to see if you can take beautiful images at high noon on a bright and sunny day. As I mentioned, one of the common excuses photographers make is that we can only take pictures in “pretty light” such as the time around sunrise or sunset. I agree that the very best images happen during those golden hours, however with a little bit of effort we can take great images at any time of the day.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, I constantly tell myself that it is possible to create beautiful images at all hours. I refuse to relegate my photography to only those hours of the best light. I also work very hard to be at the right spot at the right time. if you’ve ever been on a travel photography workshop with me, you know that we wake up well before the crack of dawn so that we can capture the sunrise.

So, assuming that we can’t get out until after sunrise or wait until sunset, what are we to do when we photograph in the harsh sunshine of mid-day? Below are some of the issues we come across and some tricks I’ve used to solve those issues.

1. Extreme Contrast
Really, the biggest issue when photographing at mid-day is the very high contrast between the highlights and the shadows. For example, let’s say you are taking a landscape photograph when the sun is out. The amount of brightness difference between the light shining on the top of the trees and the light in the shadows can be as much as 10 stops or more! Your digital camera can only expose for a range of about 4 or 5 stops at best. What that means in the real world is that the highlights will probably be blown out and the shadows will be solid black. When you print this landscape photo, the shadows will end up being black blobs and the highlights will be completely white with no texture. Nice, eh?

So, how do we solve this issue? From a physics standpoint, we can’t! However there are some good electronic and software tricks we can employ to get around the limitation of our digital sensors.

One of the neatest ways to do this is to take a bunch of photographs of the same scene at different exposures and then overlay them in Photoshop. Photoshop CS, CS2 and CS3 each have a function called “Merge to HDR” which creates a high dynamic range (HDR) photograph out of a bunch of individual exposures. It is quite an amazing process to watch the first time you do it (even the twentieth time you do it)!

In order to make this process work, it is best to use a tripod so that pixels remain aligned. Next, bracket your exposures from really dark to really light. I typically bracket each photograph by about 0.7 stops and use my shutter speed to change exposures. The number of exposures you take can vary from three to ten, but I find that I end up using around four or five for most of my HDR photographs. Look at the examples to the left. The first photo shows the end result. Notice how there is detailed information in the dark water as well as detailed information on the light house and also in the clouds. This was merged together with a total of four images. The last two images show the darkest and the lightest images in my bracketed series of four.

Another way to get similar results as above is to take your image in RAW and then process it three or four times in your RAW conversion program. Each time you convert your file from the original, save a separate TIFF. Take that same image and make one conversion very dark. Make the next one medium dark. Make the third one medium and the next medium bright and finally the last one brightest. Now that you have a few TIFFs, you can use the “Merge to HDR” function to get similar results. The downside to this is that your shadows might have a bit more noise than in the first example. However, it will still be better than just taking one picture and trying to print it with blown highlights and lost shadows.

2. Hazy Skies and Unsaturated Landscape Colors
Look at the two photographs of the church (left). These two photos were both taken right at 12:30pm and the light was very hard. The first photo shows the image as it was taken with a wide angle lens and no polarizer. The photo is “good” but it really lacks punch. The second photograph looks much better because I used a polarizing filter to saturate the sky and cut any atmospheric haze.

A polarizer works best when the lens is aimed at 90 degrees to the sun. One of the easiest ways to know if your polarizer will be effective or not is to hold your hand out in front of you and make your fingers into the shape of a gun. Point the thumb at the sun. Then, rotate your hand around your thumb and anywhere your index finger points will be a candidate for polarization.

3. Raccoon Eyes on People
When taking pictures of people at mid-day, you can generally expect to see dark raccoon eyes. Here are some simple solutions for photographing people on bright sunny days: - Use fill flash. The best settings for this are to dial down your flash power to about -0.7 EV so that your flash works as a “fill” and doesn’t compete with the sun.

- Turn the person away from the sun. If you don’t have a flash, then simply turn your subjects away from the sun. Probably the easiest way to meter for this situation is to use spot meter on their cheek.

- Wait until a cloud passes overhead. Seriously. I do this a lot when I have a partly sunny day. Rather than take the pic in the harsh sun, just wait until a cloud passes to take the photo of a person.

- Put them under a tree or into the shade of a building.

- Bring them inside and shoot a window portrait.

4. Close-ups and Macros
There are many times when I’m hiking during mid-day and I find some nice flowers to take a photograph of. If you snap a shot of flowers in direct sun, the highlights will blow and the shadows will block up. So, what I like to do is to shade the flowers with my body by hovering over the spot and then take the photo while the flower is in the shade. The cool thing about this technique is that you can create shade wherever you go as long as you bring your body with you (unless you are Hans Christian Andersen’s Man Without a Shadow). Look at the photos of the cactus flowers to the left. The first was taken in direct sun. The second was taken by shading the area with my body.

In lieu of using your body to create a shadow, lots of folks bring along a diffuser screen or a simple reflector to shade the area. These work just great and allow you to move around as you take the shot rather than having to hover over the flower.


June GOAL Assignment: Serve Someone with Your Images
That’s right! You have a skill that others can use. Find a way to give away your photography in a meaningful way. Take some images down at the hospital. Give the young mother across the street some 8x10s of her new baby. Head down to the local homeless shelter and offer to take portraits for free. Supply some images for a non-profit organization that they can use in their print campaign or website. Head out on a short term mission and support those hard working folks out in the field (www.COTNI.org, www.COTNI.org )

Your Get Out And Learn (GOAL) assignment this month is to Get Out And Serve! I’ll be doing much of the same this month. In July’s newsletter I’ll show a number of examples of photos and videos I’ve recently taken in a service environment to give you some inspiration.


Digital Tidbits: Data Storage in the Field
(note: see images to the left)

Last week I was up in a remote section of Alaska working at a Covenant Youth Camp. The camp site is literally in the middle of a big river valley that flows through the Alaskan tundra. It is about as wild a place as you can imagine with regular wildlife sightings of grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, moose and caribou.

While at the youth camp, I wanted to make sure that my images were safe from any harm, so I brought along two battery powered disk drives made by a company called Wolverine. Specifically, the units I brought along were the Wolverine Flashpac 80GB units. You can find more information about the Flashpacs here: www.wolverinedata.com. I purchased the units from Costco (www.costco.com) for about $150 each.

When traveling, I think it is very important to always back up your data just in case you have an unplanned failure. After I fill up a few memory cards worth of data, I copy each of the cards to both portable hard drives so that I have redundancy. Inevitably, one of the hard drives will fail, get dropped or be stolen. Always back up your data!

Before leaving on the trip, I fully charged each of the Flashpacs so their batteries were topped off. I generally travel with one disk stored in my checked luggage and another stored in my carryon luggage. While in the Alaskan bush, downloading my photos to the Flashpacs was incredibly easy. You simply turn on the disk drive and insert your memory card. The Flashpac then asks you to press the transfer button and bingo, Your data starts transferring!

I found that it took about 45 minutes to transfer about 8 GB of data during my first download. I transferred a number of memory cards that varied in size between a 4GB CF card to a 1GB SD card. After transferring 8GB of memory, it appeared as though the battery meter on each of the Flashpacs was about 50%. That implied that I could probably transfer an additional 6GB before the batteries died, for a total of 10GB of data transfer per charge.

Honestly, I was expecting a bit more battery life. 10GB is quite a bit of data transfer, but the Flashpacs have 80GB hard drives. Obviously, if you wanted to fill up the disk on each of the Flashpacs, then you’d have to charge the batteries multiple times. If you have a steady supply of power available to you on your travels, then these Flashpacs are a great solution. If you are going somewhere for a multi-week trip without power, then you’re going to need another solution. Truthfully, most places we travel have access to regular power, so the battery life of these units doesn’t become a significant detriment. They’ll easily last for a number of card downloads until you make it to your next destination for a power source.

To put it in perspective, I was in Alaska for 9 days and took about 2700 photos. The photos were taken with the Nikon D2X and the Nikon D80. About half the shots were JPG and the other half were NEF. The Flashpacs handled this situation just fine.

When I returned to my office in Washington State, I simply hooked up one of the Flashpacs via USB cable to my computer and transferred all the information to my business storage disks. Simple and easy. All the data transferred and none of it was corrupted. Just what I expected.

So, do I recommend these little units? Yes. They performed well and I will continue to use them for backing up my data while traveling. I will definitely be bringing their charging cables along for any trip over about a week, but they will serve very well for the vast majority of my trips.


Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Our 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07 North Cascades Art of Travel workshop is completely sold out and we have a started a waiting list. We’ll have many more Art of Travel workshops in 2008, so be prepared for fun, adventure and amazing photography! Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have dramatically expanded our workshops and instructor base through the Nikonians. Please go to www.nikoniansacademy.com to see all the new cities and the new topics! We are offering topics such as Fine Art Photography, Digital Printing, D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the Nikonians. If you are thinking of signing up, then you had better hurry! Seats are selling quickly and there are quite a few workshops that are already completely sold out in a few cities.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007 and 2008. We are offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. Our next D200 workshops will be held in 2008 but we are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I receive a lot of email from you all as you are out taking photos around our amazing planet. I sincerely thank you for reading our monthly newsletter and I hope that I can inspire you to keep shooting great images.

Now stop reading and go take some pictures!

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






Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

April GOAL Assignment Answers: A Day in the Life.

Lookin' up to dad.


Shopping for power tools.


Playing in the puddles after a rain.


Giving our neighbor a 90th birthday card.


A montage of happiness and joy.



May GOAL Assignment: Shooting at High Noon.

Both of these images below were shot in direct sun at the "worst" time of day. The flowers were taken at the Tom McCall Nature Reserve in Mosier, Oregon. "Joe" the Beekeeper was playing his harmonica in Hood River, Oregon. Your assignment this month is to take images at high noon and see if you can come up with some great pics!



Laptop Review: Alienware Area 51 Images.

It's alive! The Alienware Area 51 laptop glows as if the Aliens are watching your every move.

The laptop's 17" screen works very well as a "second" monitor when it is hooked up to my Eizo 21" monitor. Alienware and Windows Vista makes it incredibly easy to use two monitors at the same time.


This is the cover of the included user manual. Even it seems sinister, ready to "help" whenever needed.


The included manual is fairly comprehensive and is helpful for troubeshooting simple issues. I referred to it a few times when setting up the system.


Here's a closer shot of the computer that shows the nice, big keyboard and full sized 10-key pad on the side.





May 2007 Newsletter

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - May 2007

Hello my friends! Spring is in full swing and I am having a blast photographing flowers, people and places. I enjoy this time of year so much and having the ability to photograph it is a true blessing!

I just returned from a four day Art of Travel Photography workshop in the Columbia River Gorge. The wildflowers were spectacular this year in Oregon and we had an incredible time waking up before sunrise and going to bed long after sunset. The people who attended were wonderful, the food was great and I will remember the time we spent together for a long, long time.

We are already planning our 2008 Columbia Gorge workshops and will probably have two Gorge photography tours. One during the last week of April and another perhaps in May or June.

Remember that we have one more Art of Travel Photography workshop this year in Mazama, Washington this September. We have one or two seats remaining, so if you are holding off, don’t wait too much longer! You can see more details here: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

There are many of you are interested in Private Workshops and I wanted to let you know that this popular option is still available. Typically, people coordinate a date with me and we spend one or two days going over specific topics as they relate to your needs. Popular topics are Nikon/Canon camera operation, wireless flash setup, studio lighting and Photoshop. Feel free to contact me at any time if you’d like more information or want to sign up.

Our iTTL Wireless Flash eBook is still selling well. You can find information on this eBook on our information page at www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.

We have a couple of other titles in the works that I hope to have available later this summer. The first one to be ready will be called “Digital Asset Management for the Rest of Us”. It will be focused on how to create an easy-to-use organizational system for your digital files. My hope is to create a resource that is applicable for folks who don’t need all the bells and whistles that a professional photographer would require. It will include topics such as organizing, filing, software choices, naming conventions, etc.

Finally, just a note to let you know that May is a pretty busy month for me. I’ll be leading workshops in Seattle, New York and Boston. I hope you’ll understand if it takes a couple days to get back to your emails.


April GOAL Assignment Review: A Day in the Life

Last month, I asked you to spend a day photographing a specific subject. How did you do? Personally, I spent a day photographing my daughter and came away with some great new photographs. It is amazing to see how many moods a four year old girl goes through in the course of 12 hours! (See photos to the left)

My purpose for giving this GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment was to encourage you to go beyond the easy shots and explore your subject in more detail. By spending time with the subject, you are far more aware of subtleties that you could never find by just arriving on the scene and taking a few pictures.

The more I work as a photographer, the more I find that immersing myself in a location or subject is critical to getting good shots that tell a story. The longer I am photographing a scene or a person, the more mood and emotion I am able to show in my resulting photographs. It is when I am rushed or in a hurry that I get snapshots and not great photographs.

In this day and age of “hurry up and go”, I find it hard to “slow down and wait”, and I know you do too! So, take some time with your photography to slow down and explore. Look at different angles. Consider different lenses. Wait until a different part of the day. Use a different lighting scenario like a window, flash or light bulb.

For the “Day in the Life” of my daughter, I photographed her as she woke up in the morning, as she combed her hair, brushed her teeth, ate breakfast, played in the rain and accompanied me on an errand to the local hardware store. I was also able to photograph her as she gave our wonderful neighbor a 90th birthday card. It was fun to watch the interplay between a 90 year old woman and a four year old girl as they laughed about life.

By taking a day to photograph these precious moments, I now have captured memories that will last forever. My next step is to put these pictures into something a bit more formal. My plan is to make a bound book by using an online service. I have a few favorites and recommend:
- www.MPix.com. They will make hard cover books for $30.00 and soft cover books for $20.00. If I want to add extra pages, they charge $0.50 per page. The base book is 20 pages.
- www.shutterfly.com. Their books start at $29.99 and include a cutout on the front page that shows a photo from the first page.
- www.photoworks.com. They have a simple to use interface and an easy ordering system. Prices also start at $29.99.

By making a “Day in the Life” memory book for my daughter, she’ll have this day for the rest of her life.


May GOAL Assignment: Create Beautiful Photos at High Noon
One of the most difficult scenarios to photograph is one where you have bright, contrasty lighting at high noon. Most of the “bad” photographs I’ve taken in my life were a result of underexposure due to severe “noon-light-itus”.

My GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment for you is to be able to create beautiful photos under what most photographers consider horrible conditions. When I lead travel photography workshops I try hard to show people that great photographs can be taken in all hours and all lighting conditions. One of the common “excuses” photographers make is that we can only take photographs in beautiful light like at sunrise and sunset. Yes, there is some truth to that, but at the same time, if you are at the Eiffel Tower at high noon, then let’s learn how to take great photographs at high noon!

Next month, I’ll include a bunch of solutions for taking pictures at high noon. Until then, take a look at the yellow balsamroot flower to the left that was taken a few days ago in “severe clear” conditions. Also, see the photo of "Joe" the beekeeper playing the harmonica which was also taken in the bright sunlight.


Laptop Review: Alienware Area 51 17” Laptop.
(note: see images to the left) After months of working with a “slow” laptop, I decided to order a new powerhouse Alienware Area 51 computer. You can see all of Alienware’s offerings here: www.alienware.com. I have been doing quite a bit of research to find something that was fast and upgradeable. There are a few options from companies like Dell, Gateway and Toshiba, but I never found something with the right mix of price, capability and easy field upgrades.

For example, I wanted to be able to do my own RAM installations, hard drive swaps and video card upgrades in the future. As we all know, current prices will drop precipitously throughout the next year and the same super-duper video card that costs $500 now will be down to $250 in just six months. So, after much investigation, I decided on purchasing the Alienware Area 51 laptop with 17” screen. Their systems are really directed towards the gamer crowd, so their graphics packages and RAM capabilities are perfect for digital editing purposes.

I custom ordered my system to include Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Windows Vista, Seagate 100GB 7200 rpm disk drive, DVD+/-RW optical drive, and ATI X1800 video card. I bought the laptop with the minimum 1GB RAM because I know that I could buy it much cheaper at a computer supply store than have Alienware upgrade it for me. In order to get 4GB of RAM from Alienware, it would have cost over $1200 just for the RAM. So, I went to Fry’s Electronics store and purchased 4GB of notebook memory for $400 and installed it myself! With that amount of savings, I should go out and buy a new camera lens!

Since everything else can be easily switched in the future, I’ll probably upgrade to a faster Core 2 Duo processor, a bigger hard drive and a faster graphics card next year when prices come down again.

How about performance? Well so far, I am very impressed. Last night I processed a bunch of D2X RAW files by opening them up in Capture NX, converting them to 16 bit TIFFs and then sending them to Photoshop CS2. At the same time, I was running Adobe Bridge, iView Media Pro 3, email, two web browsers and a three or four programs in the background. The computer handled it all amazingly well! It processed the images very quickly with no hang-ups. With my previous system, I had to close down all accessory programs and could only run one photo editor at a time. Life is good.

Downloading photographs from my memory cards is much faster than my old machine. Also, transferring large amounts of photos (10GB ~ 20GB) from external drive to external drive now takes about half the time as before. Most of the online reviews for the Area 51 performance at the top of the list for speed. So far, I fully concur with their findings. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years!

It took me about one day to get the Area 51 set up and ready to go. I had to transfer all the programs, data and files from my previous computer. This included setting all system preferences, registering software with vendors, testing Vista compatibility with my office printers, projectors, etc. I was actually very surprised at how easy the transition from my previous Windows XP machine to this new Windows Vista machine.

The Alienware Area 51 laptop uses DVI video output (digital) rather than the older VGA video (analog) so I get much better resolution and control when I’m showing my images on monitors, projectors or HDTV screens. Along these lines, one of the things I really like about this new computer is how easy it is to use two screens at the same time. I basically plug in my Eizo ColorEdge CE210W (www.eizo.com) monitor into the DVI port on my Alienware laptop and then Vista brings up a window asking me if I want to extend my desktop to the new screen. I click “yes” and voila! I have two monitors side by side. I can drag Photoshop to my calibrated Eizo monitor and keep my email and business applications running on my laptop monitor.

Other reasons I purchased this computer were for the excellent multi-media capabilities. I am planning to start working on digital video editing and need the system’s processor and RAM for video editing. Also, the laptop has multiple USB, firewire, Ethernet and auto/video input/outputs. I’m looking forward to doing some HD video editing this summer.

So, after a few days of using the new computer system, I think I can call myself an Alienware evangelist! Everything works as advertised. It is fast. Changes to photographs render immediately when I move slider bars on 16 bit files. Setting up multiple monitors is simple. Changing out disks, RAM and other things is also simple. I give it two thumbs up and a high recommendation.


Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. Our next workshop will be in North Cascades NP/Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07 and still has a couple of seats available. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations and have started working on our plans for 2008. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have dramatically expanded our workshops and instructor base through the Nikonians. Please go to www.nikoniansacademy.com to see all the new cities and the new topics! We are offering topics such as Fine Art Photography, Digital Printing, D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the Nikonians. If you are thinking of signing up, then you had better hurry! Seats are selling quickly and there are quite a few workshops that are already completely sold out in various cities.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ve scheduled them in the Northwest for Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Have a great time taking photographs this month. As always, feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions or need assistance.

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






Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

March Answers: Photograph a Stranger.
Young Steven was volunteering as a Senate Page at the Texas capital building. He and his father were walking out and I saw Steven looking dapper in his suit. I asked his father if I could photograph him and he gladly said yes. Later, I emailed a photograph of Steven to his dad as a thank you.
D2X, 28-75mm f2.8, handheld.


Caught! Later, while taking pictures inside the Texas Capital building, I found a tour group of Boy Scouts. As I was taking photographs of them, one of the group's members saw me and gave me a scowl (lower right). I looked up from my camera and waved to the gentleman. He waved back and his scowl turned to a smile!
D2X, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.


This kind gentleman is also named Steven. He was volunteering at the Lyndon B. Johnson Historical site on Texas Highway 290. I asked if I could take a photograph of him and he gladly obliged. After I took his photo, he took me on a personal tour of the site and showed me a number of locations off the beaten path.
D2X, 28-75mm f2.8, handheld.


On the way to the top of Enchanted Rock, I met a couple of nice men (Bob in blue and Ralph in Green) who were visiting from Sarasota Florida. I took a few pictures along the way and then at the top, they asked me to take their portrait. I used their point and shoot digital and then asked if I could photograph them with my own camera. They said "great" and then signed model releases. D2X, 12-24mm f4, handheld.


Bob and Ralph from Sarasota Florida. D2X, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.


Matrix Metering and Exposure Compensation.

In the following two images, I was photographing a field of Texas Bluebonnets along Highway 16 in the Texas Hill country. The entire scene is in the same overcast light, so I knew that matrix meter would perform pretty well. The photo on the left was taken at 0.0 EV and the photo on the right was taken at -0.7 EV. I darkened down the second photo because the majority of the scene is composed of the dark purple flowers. The photo on the left is brighter but not as saturated as the photo on the right. I don't think either one is "better" in this case. The photo on the right will print out with richer colors than the photo on the left. Also, the photo on the right has better preserved highlights. D2X, 70-200mm f2.8, Gitzo 1327 CF tripod, Markins M20 ballhead.


Here, I took two similar photographs of the natural area around Enchanted Rock in the Texas Hill country. Since the sunshine was coming from over my shoulder and evenly lighting the scene, I knew that Matrix meter would work well. However, I also knew that it would tend to overexpose the sky, resulting in a light blue rather than a darker blue. So, I dialed in -0.7 EV in order to saturate those greens and the blue sky. D2X, 12-24mm f4, Gitzo 1127 CF tripod, Markins Q3 ballhead.


This image of the Fredricksburg, Texas Library was taken at about 40 minutes before sunrise. Since the outside of the building was lit up with spot lights, I knew it would balance properly with the sky. I used matrix metering on my D2X, but dialed down the exposure by -0.7 stops in order to render the whole scene darker than medium tonality. D2X, 12-24mm f4, Gitzo 1327 CF tripod, Markins M20 ballhead.


I found this herd of deer resting under some trees in the Texas Hill country. I knew that the photo would be a little washed out if I shot it in Matrix meter because the overall scene is darker than medium tonality. Brown trees and dark green grass overall are about -0.7 EV, so I took one picture at 0.0 and another photo at -0.7 EV. The darker one is more saturated but the brighter one reveals more detail in the shadows. In this situation, even though the "correct" exposure is a bit darker, I like the slightly over exposed picture just because it reveals more details in the shadows. D2X, 70-200 f2.8, TC20E II, handheld.




This photo of the stained glass window in the Fredricksburg Texas Catholic Church with Matrix Metering. However, I changed the exposure compensation to -1.0 EV because I knew that the metering system would view this shot as a strongly backlit scene. By underexposing, it darkened the interior of the church to black and gave me a nice exposure of the glass. If I took the same shot at 0.0 EV, then the walls of the church would have come out a bit gray and the window would be blown out. Remember that the matrix meter looks at everything in the photograph, not just the stained glass. Underexposing was definitely the better choice here. D2X, 28-75mm f2.8, handheld.



April 2007 Newsletter

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - April 2007

Greetings folks! I have just returned from a two week trip down to Texas, leading workshops with the Nikonians Academy. I had a great time and was genuinely impressed with Texas folks’ true southern hospitality. I’ll be back, that’s for sure.

This month at Out There Images, Inc. we have a few workshops in the Northwest. Our Seattle area D80/D70 workshop on 4/19 is sold out, but our 4/20 iTTL Flash workshop still has a couple seats available.

Later this month, we are leading a 4-day workshop in the Columbia Gorge called “The Art of Travel.” It has been sold out for months and I am really looking forward to spending some time taking photographs of wildflowers, waterfalls and the surrounding spring spectacle. In early May, we are leading workshops in the Portland Oregon area and still have some seats available there as well. See the workshop schedules at the end of this newsletter for more details.

We have updated the camera setup guides on our website and you can download them for free at www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html. These are recommended setups for your D70, D80, D200 and D2X for most shooting situations.

March GOAL Assignment: Photograph a stranger

Taking pics of strangers is a fun deal. It can be thrilling, scary, simple and difficult all at the same time. It is also one of the hardest things in the world for new photographers to do, especially in this day and age with all the restrictions, laws, and implied “protections” for domestic security. Sometimes all these laws and rules make you want to just give up and forget taking photographs of strangers on the street.

I’m here to tell you otherwise. Taking photos of people you don’t know is a great way to open new doors, meet new people and get some fantastic photos in the process.

I encouraged you in last month’s GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment to stretch your comfort level and take some photos of people you don’t know on the street. Last week, I spent some time down in Texas where I photographed in Austin and in the Texas Hill Country. I had a great time meeting new people and taking their photographs. In almost every case where I asked someone in the general public if I could take their photograph, they said yes. I only had one person say no and he was a State of Texas employee mowing the grass at a state park. The photos I did take of strangers opened the door to even better photographs later on because those strangers pointed me to new opportunities that I never would have found on my own.

Here are some great tips for taking photos of strangers (note, look at the photographs to the left for examples and more commentary).

1. Use a short lens. Yes, you heard me right. Use a lens in the 35mm ~ 100mm range. Most people will tell you to use a long lens like 200mm or 300mm to take street photos, but those long lenses just keep you far away from the very same people you are trying to meet. A shorter lens forces you to use the best zoom on the planet - your feet! By getting closer to the people you are photographing, you will actually have to interact with them and talk with them. GASP! This is often uncomfortable for photographers since strangers can be a scary lot. However, I think you may just be surprised when the people you ask to photograph say yes!

2. Use a long lens. I know. I just said to use a shorter lens, but sometimes it is impractical to actually walk up to someone with a short lens. For example, if a street performer is juggling flaming torches, you might want to stand back a little bit so your nice black digital camera doesn’t melt away. Longer lenses in the 200mm~300mm range give you the ability to photograph people without them knowing you are there. It is easier to catch their natural expressions and the resulting photographs don’t look posed.

3. What to say. Here are some lines I use when I want to photograph strangers:
- “I’d like to take your photograph. Do you mind?”
- “I think your dress is fantastic! Do you mind if I take a picture?”
- “I’m shooting photos for my stock files, would you mind if I took your photograph?”
- “I’m taking photos for an article I’m writing on this city. Do you mind if I take your photo?”
- “Your children are dressed up very nice today. Can I photograph them?”

Lots of times people will ask “why” and will be a little wary at first. When that happens, the door is open for me to introduce myself, talk about my photography and strike up a conversation. Once people find out I’m just a regular guy, then most of the time they’ll simple say “no problem.” I am continually amazed at how few people say no.

4. Portrait techniques still apply when taking street photos. You still need to look at the lighting on the person’s face and position them to where the light looks good. Once someone has agreed to let you take their photo, they expect you to take control and start posing them. Don’t be afraid to bring them under the shade of a tree or turn them into (or out of) the direct sun. Tell them when to smile and where to put their hands. Focus your lens on their eyes. Use light modifiers such as flashes, reflectors, and the side of a building. Watch the background so you don’t have telephone poles or fire trucks sticking out of their heads.

The best street photographers take time to understand how light is affecting the photo and then do everything they can to use or modify the existing light to the fullest extent.

5. Say thank you. This is the most important part. Make sure that you genuinely thank the person for their time and let them know that you appreciate their willingness to help out.

6. Ask for a model release. In general, photographs used for “editorial” use don’t always require a model release, but it is still a good idea to get it signed. Editorial use is generally described as photos being used for newspapers, magazines, web blogs, and general interest media of an informational nature. If you are thinking of selling the photograph for advertising or commercial use, then you’ll definitely need a signed model release.

I carry along model releases wherever I go and generally ask my subjects if they wouldn’t mind signing one. One of the best write-ups I’ve ever seen on the issues of model releases is at Dan Heller's website. I’ve posted a sample of my model release here, feel free to download it and use if for your own purposes (change my name to your name of course). I’ve kept the model release very simple so that the person who signs it doesn’t feel like they’ve signed their life away.

7. Should you pay for the photo? I hardly ever offer to pay for someone’s photo. However, if someone does ask for compensation, then I’m prepared with a dollar bill to trade them for their time. The most people usually ask for is a copy of the photograph. When they ask, then I give them my business card and tell them to send me an email with the request. If they follow through and contact me, then I send them an email with a JPG attached.

8. Don’t “shoot and run”. Since so many of us are afraid of what people might think, we often steal a photograph and then quickly hide our camera in the hopes that the other person won’t find out. Imagine what you look like from the other side of the lens. The other person sees you hiding behind a bush with your camera aimed at them. Then, the minute they make eye contact with you, you quickly hide your camera under your shirt, turn around and walk briskly away. Next thing you know, they are running after you with an umbrella and whacking you on the head. Be upfront with your photos and don’t be a paparazzi photo sniper. Whenever someone catches me in the act of taking their photo, I look them in the eye, give them a big smile and walk up to them to start a conversation. Once they know I’m a decent bloke, then they drop their guard and continue with what they were doing.

April GOAL Assignment: A Day in the Life
Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) photo assignment this month is to photograph a day in someone’s (or something’s) life. I want you to go further than the grab shot or “one off” photograph of a subject. I want you to start exploring it in depth. Photograph your subject in the morning, afternoon and evening as well as every time in-between. Photograph indoors, outdoors, in the shade, in the sun. Photograph anger, happiness, hunger, frustration, joy, fatigue and passion. Photograph hands, feet, roots, cars, home, business, smiles, frowns, work and rest.

Here are some ideas for your “A Day in the Life” subjects:
1. sister
2. niece
3. dog
4. fisherman
5. flower
6. yard
7. construction project
8. classroom


Photo Techniques: Using Nikon’s Matrix Meter and Exposure Compensation.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been down in Texas leading workshops with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org). In between my teaching dates in Houston and Dallas, I took some time to photograph in the Texas Hill country. I have wanted to go here for a long time to photograph the small towns and the annual spring flower bloom. I knew that central Texas had a lot of wildflowers, but I had no idea how prolific they were until I saw it with my own eyes. There are more Texas bluebonnets than I possibly could have imagined. Honestly, I was a little overwhelmed with the quantities of flowers and it took me a couple days of photographing them to finally come up with some images I could use. Sometimes when there are billions of photo possibilities, it is hard to narrow it down to just one.

Anyways, I digress. The purpose of this article is to discuss how to use Nikon’s 3D Matrix Metering system to get good exposures. I’ll use example photographs from last week’s trip to central Texas to illustrate its usage. At a high level, Nikon’s brochures all basically say that the Matrix Meter is a wiz-bang wonder meter that solves all problems. To get beautiful results, it is as simple as setting your camera to matrix meter and then tripping the shutter.

I admit that the meter is one of the most advanced and accurate I have ever used, however it doesn’t give me perfect results every time I take a photograph. There are multiple iterations of Nikon’s Matrix light meters and the first ones were introduced way back in the Nikon F4 and N8008 days. Remember those days when we all used to shoot film? Since then, the meters have increased from 9-zone patterns to the current 1005 zone patterns found on the D2x, D70, D200 and similar cameras. Nikon also has some Matrix meters on their D80, D50 and D40 models that are 420 pixel (zone) versions.

Each of the Matrix meters work by measuring the light reflected from the scene and then comparing what the 1005 pixel pattern sees to a database of 30,000 photographs. The database is supposed to represent most of the photographs we come across in typical shooting scenarios. For example, if you aim your camera at a mountain scene, the Matrix Meter is supposed to compare the real mountain scene to something in the database that looks similar, and then determine shutter speed and aperture. All this wiz-bang stuff happens incredibly fast, in fact, it happens in about 37 milliseconds on a D2X. Amazing.

Ok, so with all that horsepower under the hood, we should expect that the camera just gets it right for every photograph we shoot. Right? Wrong.

I use the Matrix Meter for about 90% of all my photography and have learned to trust it for most situations. However, there are a number of idiosyncrasies you need to understand in order to get excellent results.

First of all, we need to understand that the matrix meter is different than the center weighted or spot meter. This is an obvious statement, but as always, the devil is in the details. The center weighted and spot meters are strictly “reflectance” light meters. What that means is they measure the amount of light that is being reflected back to the camera and then give you an exposure value for medium brightness. Back in the good ol’ days of black and white photography, if you exposed a medium brightness thing correctly, this meant that it was exposed at 18% gray. In the current color age, this is called medium tonality.

In other words, if you take a photograph of white snow with the center weighted or spot meter, then the resulting image will be medium brightness snow (also known as gray) - this is bad. If you take a photograph of granite rocks, then center weighted and spot meters will give you medium brightness (gray) rocks - this is good. If you take a photograph of a black backpack with these two meters, then it will register as a medium brightness (gray) backpack - this is bad. To compensate for these meters, you have to over expose the white snow by 1.7 or 2.0 stops in order to make it render white and under expose the black backpack by 1.3 to 2.0 stops to make it render black.

Ok, now lets throw the matrix meter into the discussion. Since the matrix meter compares the scene to a database and then makes an exposure decision, it isn’t giving a pure light meter reading. The intent of the matrix meter is to let you simply aim the camera at the scene and let the camera figure it out for you. The hope is that it automatically adds the appropriate exposure compensation every time. The hope is that if you are taking photographs of a dark scene, then the camera would take away exposure to render it dark on the sensor. If you were taking a photograph of a white sandy beach (or snow), then it would automatically add in the appropriate amount of exposure to render it white on the sensor.

Now, the big question. Does it work as advertised? My answer is “most of the time”. That’s why I use it so much. I don’t have to fiddle with my exposures as much as I used to with spot meters and center weighted meters, but I still have to make regular adjustments to exposure compensation. For example, it still doesn’t seem to get pictures right in high contrast scenarios that include bright backlighting such as a person in the shade of a tree with bright daylight behind them. However, it does really well in situations of nice, even front lighting such as a flower on an overcast day.

Here are some places where the Matrix Meter works really well and some places where it needs a little bit of help. Remember, you are supposed to be in control of your camera, not the other way around. You need to understand how it performs in different situations so that you can create beautiful art, not blown out highlights or blocked up shadows.

Places it performs very well:
- Front lighting. A flower on an overcast day. A person in the shade of a building. A portrait lit up by a flash.
- Even lighting. Light is even all around the photograph. For example a building after sunset where the building is being lit up by external lights. A portrait of the family where everyone and everything is under the same lights.
- Low contrast. Where the subject is all about the same tonality and in the same light. A photo of a green grass field, a person’s face with front lighting, a red flower in front of green leaves.

Places it needs help:
- Scenes with bright highlights. Light bulbs in background and snow capped mountains tend to cause the meter to underexpose the rest of the photo in order to preserve the highlights. In these situations, it may be best to switch to a spot meter and meter specifically on your subject or your highlight. Alternatively, you could use Matrix meter and dial in a bunch of exposure compensation.
- Backlighting situations. Very common when photographing someone inside a house with a window behind their head. The remedy is to use a lot of exposure compensation, or switch over to spot meter to meter on their face.
- Long exposures at low apertures. For example a 30 second exposure at f22. In these situations, I typically will bracket my exposures by a stop or more just because I know that the metering system is at the limit of it’s capability.

Ok, now that you know a few places where the matrix meter works and a few places where it falls apart, here are some tips for using it as your primary meter.
1. Remember that the matrix meter looks at everything in the scene. Everything. This includes Uncle Fred as well as the blue sky behind him. If the photograph has lots of different elements in it, then generally speaking, the matrix meter will do just fine. For example, if the entire photograph is in the same light, then the meter will figure it out wonderfully. If some of the scene is in shadow and some is in bright sun, or if there is strong backlighting, then the matrix meter will need your help to expose properly.
2. If you are taking a photograph of something that is medium tonality, then you won’t need to make any exposure adjustments. In general, things that are red, blue, gray, green are medium tonality, so you can almost just point and shoot. Remember, the assumption here is that the entire scene you are photographing is medium tonality.
3. If you are taking a photograph of something that is darker than medium tonality, then you’ll have to dial in negative exposure compensation. Brown, purple, dark blue, dark green generally require somewhere around a -0.7 exposure compensation to render properly. Again, the assumption is the entire scene is dark.
4. If you are photographing something that is brighter than medium tonality, then you’ll need to dial in positive exposure compensation. Yellow generally requires somewhere around +1, white requires somewhere around +1.7. Again, the assumption is the entire scene is light.
5. If you are photographing a brightly back lit situation, then you’ll need to dial in significant exposure compensation, but it won’t be as precise as using the spot meter on the subject (rather than the background).

Workshop Updates:

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
Our next iTTL workshop is scheduled for April 20th in Seattle, WA and still has some seats available. After that, we have one scheduled on May 12th in Portland, OR. These are some of our most popular workshops and we’ve only set up a few of them for 2007. If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We are offering topics such as D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX and Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the www.nikonians.org. We’ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Throughout the year we’ll also be adding more topics and cities as we add qualified instructors. Our dates are posted here: www.greaterphoto.com.. If you are thinking of signing up, you had better hurry since we have already sold 50% of the seats for the entire 2007 schedule! There are a few workshops that are already completely sold out in various cities.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ve scheduled them in the Northwest for Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have right now are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/26/07 ~ 4/29/07 and North Cascades NP/Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07. The Columbia River Gorge workshop in April is completely sold out and has a waiting list. The North Cascades workshop in September still has seats available. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I hope you’ve been able to learn a few things this month and will be able to apply it to your photographic adventures. Keep shooting and remember that life is short. Take pictures now!

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






Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

February Answers: Show the Motion.
I took this cycling photo for a magazine assignment on the Nike World Masters Games. To get the blur in the background, I used a shutter speed of 1/60 sec. as the athletes quickly rode by me. I also panned at exactly the same rate that they were moving so they stayed sharp.


To get the silky waterfall effect, use a shutter speed of 1/2 second or longer. This photo in the Columbia River Gorge was a 1 sec. exposure. D70, 12-24mm, Gitzo CF tripod.


To show a little motion blur in the ocean waves, I used a 1/20 sec. exposure. Photo was taken at Seaside Oregon and converted to Black and White in Photoshop. D2X, 12-24mm, handheld.


This photo was an assignment for a magazine article on using a Pocket PC to track your fitness. The lady here was the owner of the gym. I wanted to show motion (you can see it in her right hand) but also have a bit of sharpness, so I used my flash and set my camera to Slow Rear sync.


Here, the motion blur is in the clouds. I exposed for about 20 seconds as the clouds moved across the full moon at night.


Another shot of the bridge that shows the motion blur of the automobiles. This was also a 20 second exposure with my D2X and 70-200mm lens.


These next three shots were taken by throwing a Coolpix 5600 camera into the air while the shutter was open. They resulted in some pretty neat impressionistic photographs.






Aquarium Photographs.

Nice photo of a black and white fish. Shot was taken with a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens and a 12mm extension tube (Kenko). I use a SB-800 flash set to TTL BL and -0.7 flash compensation. I set my D200 to Slow Rear sync so the background would burn in and the flash would provide a little bit of fill. White balance was set for Cloudy -1.


I took this anemone shot by holding my SB-800 flash directly above the aemones and setting my shutter sync speed to "Normal" sync. This prevents ambient light from entering the photograph and only allows light from the flash. I did this because the background was pretty cluttered and Slow sync flash would have allowed the background to shine through. Also, I used a small aperture here (f16) in order to get all the anemones in focus. If I used f2.8, then only one or two tentacles would be in focus and everything else out of focus.


Here's a nice colorful shrimp. Looks tasty! D200, SB-800, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, Slow Rear flash sync.


Jellyfish picture was taken with SB-800 on a cable and camera set to Slow Rear flash sync.


There's nothing worse than a blurry cod! This pic is soft because I was shooting at a steep angle throught he aquarium's glass. You get much better results when shooting at right angles to the glass.


This school of mackerel was taken blurry on purpose. I took a whole bunch of shots with flash, but the resulting shots looked like "Mackerel in Headlights" and didn't have any depth. So, I turned off my shot and took this 1 second exposure and tried to pan with the fish. What do you think? Good? Bad?


Here's a "typical flash shot" (left). Set the camera to Normal sync and blast the room with flash. Not so good is it? A better approach is to set the camera to Slow Rear sync and then dial down the flash power very low. This way, you can see the nice ambient light, but still fill in some of the shadows. The second one (right) is the same type of shot, except this time with Slow Rear sync on the flash.


Camera Checklist.

My camera checklist requires me to press any button that has a white colored label on it. QUAL, WB, ISO, etc.


When you push the white buttons, the resulting readout will appear on the top LCD of the camera.


Push the MODE, Exposure Compensation, Metering Mode.


Push flash button, Autofocus switch, etc.


March 2007 Newsletter

Out There Images, Inc. Newsletter - March 2007

Greetings folks and happy March! Can you believe that a new season is already upon us? For those in the Northern hemisphere, we are celebrating Spring and those of you in the Southern hemisphere, you are looking forward to Fall. Depending on where you live on the planet, Spring equinox is about March 21st this year. The term equinox is derived from the Latin words, aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night. In simple terms, on or around March 21st the sun spends equal amount of time below the horizon and above the horizon. Those who study this astronomical stuff know that true equinox happens a few days before March 21st, but who’s counting right? If you are interested in the astronomical explanation, here’s a neat article from www.space.com columnist, Joe Rao (http://www.space.com/spacewatch/050318_equinox.html).

What does this have to do with photography? Well, for me, I always take this time of year to reinvigorate myself towards outdoor and nature photography after a long winter. One of my annual traditions is to get outside on the first day of spring and take some great nature pics. I encourage you to do the same. Do you have a plan for photography that day? Make a plan and take some photographs! Use this as an official excuse to get outside and create beautiful photographs.

In other news, our workshops around the USA with the Nikonians Academy (www.nikonians.org) continue to be big successes. We’ve just finished up teaching in the San Francisco Bay area and in Los Angeles. This month, we’ll be teaching down in Houston and Dallas, TX. While there, I’m going to be sure to take a few days to do some photography for my stock files.

Our April workshops with Out There Images, Inc. are just about sold out, however, we still have seats available in our 4/20/07 iTTL Flash workshop in Seattle. Sign up now to reserve a seat!

Keep in mind that if you can’t make one of our flash workshops, we have written a great eBook on the subject called “Using the Nikon Creative Lighting System” and you can buy it here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.

Finally, I’m putting the final touches on three new Camera Setup Field Guides. These will be published for the D2X, D200 and D80 cameras. We already have the D70 setup guide here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html. You’ll be able to download these for free from our website, or you can send us some money and we’ll mail you a laminated copy. Check back in a few days for these to be posted. If they aren’t posted by March 6th, it just means that I took my kids hiking rather than doing my official business work!

February GOAL Assignment: Show the Motion
Last month, I asked you to Get Out And Learn by trying to take some photos that include deliberate motion blur. This is one of the toughest photographic assignments to tackle because it is so difficult to make motion blur look good. I promised I’d spend some time showing you some tips on motion blur, so here goes:

1. Pan at same speed as subject. In order to make the subject look sharp with the background blurry, you need to rotate your body at exactly the same rate as the moving object. Look at the photograph to the left of the bicyclists. This was a shot for a magazine assignment on athletes who were competing in the Nike World Masters Games. I took this shot at about 1/60 sec. and panned with the athletes as they rode by me. I shot the photograph out the window of my truck and used the window frame as a brace while I panned. You can see that even at 1/60 sec. the background blurred out nicely.

2. Have at least one element in the photo sharp. As long as something in the photograph looks reasonably crisp, then the photograph tends to “work”. If everything in the photograph is blurry, then it sometimes just looks like the photo was a mistake. For example, if the eyeball is sharp, but everything else is blurry, the photo tends to work. If everything is blurry, then the photo usually doesn’t work.

3. Choose the appropriate shutter speed. This sounds obvious, but actually getting the right shutter speed can be pretty difficult to nail down. There are lots of variables here that go beyond just taking the shot at the appropriate shutter speed. For example, a person running at 10 miles per hour isn’t just moving forward at that speed, he is actually moving forward and up/down and left/right. That might require a faster shutter speed to freeze their body motion while still allowing for a blurry background. At the other end of the spectrum, bicycle moving forward at the same speed isn’t moving up/down left/right, so you can probably get away with a little bit longer shutter speed as long as you pan correctly with its motion. Here are some rules of thumb, but as you know, rules are made to be broken. Just use these as a starting point and as you get better with your technique, you can choose longer shutter speeds:
   a. Person walking: 1/30 sec.
   b. Person jogging: 1/60 sec.
   c. Person sprinting: 1/125 sec.
   d. Slow dancing: 1/10 ~ 1/30 sec.
   e. Bicyclist: 1/30 sec. ~ 1/125 sec.
   f. Flying bird: 1/30 ~ 1/125 sec.
   g. Car @ 60mph: 1/30 sec. ~ 1/125 sec.
   h. Airplane @ 200mph: 1/125 sec. - 1/500 sec.

4. Use a flash with Slow Rear curtain sync. There are lots of times when you want to include action in your photo, but also want some semblance of sharpness. In these situations, I use my flash and set my camera to Slow Rear curtain sync. This allows the shutter to stay open long enough for the ambient light exposure, then pops the flash at the end to give the photo a “focused” look. The example photograph I have here was taken for a magazine assignment on tracking your fitness plan with a Pocket PC (handheld computer). The woman in the photo is the owner of the gym, and she wanted me to photograph her for the shoot. You can see that there is a little motion blur in her hand, but also that the rest of the photo appears sharp. This is due to the flash firing at the end of the exposure. I get the benefits of motion blur from a longer shutter speed and also the benefit of the flash that freezes motion.

5. For waterfalls, and flowing water, you generally want to leave your shutter open for at least ½ second or longer. I find that when taking these photographs, it is best to try a few different exposures at different shutter speeds. You’d be amazed at how different a waterfall looks at ½ second versus 2 seconds. The photograph of the waterfall was taken in the Columbia River Gorge at about 1 second from a tripod. At the ocean, you also want pretty long shutter speeds (1 sec. ~ 5 sec.) to get that silky look. However, you can get a little bit of motion blur with shorter speeds. The photo of the ocean wave here at Seaside Oregon was taken at 1/20 second as the waves moved in. I handheld the camera down low to the water and then quickly moved before the waves soaked my shoes.

6. Try to blur the clouds. Look at this photograph of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge taken at night. There was a fairly low layer of clouds moving across the sky that were lit up by a full moon. I set my exposure for a shutter speed of about 20 seconds so the moving clouds would add a sense of motion to the big bridge. I really like the look and feel of this photograph.

7. Blur automobile traffic. Since I’m on a bridge kick today, here’s another shot of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge taken right at civil twilight. Here, I set up my camera on a tripod and used an exposure of 20 seconds to blur all the cars as they crossed the bridge.

8. Toss your camera. Don’t throw it away, but throw it into the air! This is a lot of fun, but it isn’t for the faint of heart since it involves throwing your camera into the air while taking a photograph. You can create some neat, impressionistic photographs this way that really serve to get your creative juices flowing. I like to use a little digital point and shoot camera and set it for self timer. I trip the shutter, count down the seconds for the timer and then just before the shutter opens, I throw the camera into the air and hope for the best. Here are some shots I took this morning with my Nikon Coolpix 5600 (Actually, it is my son’s camera. Don’t tell him I did this with his camera or he’ll turn around and throw my D2X into the air for his own experiments). For some other neat camera tossing photos, go to www.flickr.com and enter the search term “Camera Toss”.

March GOAL Assignment: Photograph a stranger.
Photography is all about pushing your skills, boundaries and comfort level. The only way to improve your skills is to take pictures every day! So, my GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment for you this month is to take a photograph of a complete stranger. Yes, you heard me right … go up to someone you don’t know and ask to take their photograph. Just tell them that you are on assignment from Mike Hagen and are working on your photography. I think you’ll be surprised at the response you get! You may just find it addicting enough to do it a second time (and a third time and a fourth time).

In next month’s column, I’ll publish some photos I took of complete strangers and talk about some issues that may crop up such as model releases, how to photograph strangers, different approaches, etc.

Photo Techniques: Shooting at an Aquarium
Last week I had a great opportunity to spend a few hours at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport Oregon (www.aquarium.org). They have thousands of tanks, displays and live-animals to interact with. They even have an underwater viewing corridor called “Passages of the Deep” where you walk through a giant tank filled with sharks, fish, eels, sturgeon and a giant ling cod.

Taking great photographs in an aquarium can prove to be very challenging because most of the time you are photographing through thick panes of glass which can greatly distort the animals. Also, you are constantly fighting reflections from ambient light and from your flash. Here are some great tips for you to use when you go to photograph at your next aquarium.

- Push your lens up to the glass. This prevents unwanted reflections from the house lights as well as from your flash. Be careful that your font lens filter doesn’t scratch the surface of the aquarium or the aquarium staff might just throw you out on your ear! I typically remove any filters or lens hoods when doing this, so I can get my lens closer to the aquarium walls.

- Shoot directly through and at right angles to the aquarium glass. This prevents unwanted distortions from the glass that you’d get if you shot at an angle. Glass in some parts of the aquarium is 4” - 6” thick, so you’ll get significant softening unless you shoot perpendicular to the pane. Look at the photo of the yellow cod. The shot was focused properly, however because I shot at a fairly steep angle through the glass, I ended up with a blurry cod rather than a sharp cod! There’s nothing worse than a blurry cod.

- Use a macro or close up lens. Lots of the aquarium tanks are small and the fish are pretty close to the front glass. If you are going to push your lens up close to the glass, then you’ll need the ability to focus very close. I like to use Kenko (www.thkphoto.com) extension tubes for this purpose, however just about any macro lens will work great!

- Use a fast lens - f2.8 or 1.4. Many times, trying to hand-hold your camera with a slower lens (i.e. f5.6) means shutter speeds in the 1/10 second range or longer. This is a recipe for a blurry photo! If you have a faster lens like f2.8 or f1.4, then you’ll be able to get faster shutter speeds. Along with this, you might still have to increase your ISO. For most of the shots here, I used ISO640 and still achieved nice, pretty photographs.

- Include ambient light and flash to improve the look of the photo. Look at the two photos on the left of the Passages of the Deep viewing corridor. The first photo shows what an image looks like with just flash. The subjects are washed out and there is no view into the aquarium. The second photo shows the same shot with the camera set to Slow Rear sync and a very low power flash setting (-2.0). This setup allows the ambient light to burn in, but still uses a bit of flash to lighten the foreground.

- Use an off-camera flash. In the photos of the shrimp, jellyfish, black striped fish and orange anemones, I handheld a SB-800 flash away from the camera body. I set my camera for Slow Rear sync, ISO 640 and then dialed down my flash output to -0.7. Since I was using Slow Rear sync, my shutter speeds were down around 1/20 sec to 1/60 sec. This shutter speed is just at the lower limit of my ability to hand-hold my camera, so I was sure to brace myself against a wall or the aquarium glass to steady the camera system. Additionally, I watched the animals very carefully to make sure they weren’t moving when taking the picture. Finally, I was sure to keep the flash a long ways away from the camera, so I didn’t get any reflection off the glass.

Digital Tidbits: My Simple Checklist for Every Photo Shoot
After decades of amateur photography, 9 years of professional photography and 5 years of teaching digital photography workshops, I have come to the conclusion that photographers tend to forget camera settings every once in a while! That of course is the most obvious statement of the year, however it has profound impact on how we operate as photographers.

In just about every workshop I lead, someone invariably speaks up at the end of the day and says with exasperation, “Ugh. How do you remember all these settings!?” This just means that they have come to the fantastic realization that in digital photography, there are literally hundreds of settings, knobs, buttons, menus and dials to adjust in order to customize the camera. Also, every situation requires a different group of camera settings. This blessing is also a curse, because it is too easy to forget a single item from the list. Sometimes this item has very little impact on your photograph. Sometimes, the item has a huge impact on your photograph.

Speaking from personal experience, I have lost track of the number of times that I’ve messed up irreplaceable shots because my camera settings were incorrect. When I first started photography, I used an Argus C3 film camera that had a manual film advance. Unfortunately, the film advance wasn’t coupled with the shutter release so if you weren’t careful, you could keep tripping the shutter on the same frame of film. There were many trips where I thought I had taken a full roll of 24 images, only to have found that I actually had 18 shots with 6 of them double exposures! Back then, I set up a simple check list that I would always follow to prevent double exposures. My shooting sequence was 1. Take picture. 2. Advance film. 3. Cock shutter release. This simple checklist meant that the next time I took a photo, it would “land” on a new piece of film every time.

Years later, after I turned pro, I frequently found that I would put my camera down after a day of shooting with all my settings adjusted from my last shot. This usually meant that my last shot was late in the evening with a long shutter speed, high ISO and some exposure compensation dialed in. The next morning, I’d start my day taking photos and it would take me half a dozen pictures to realize that all my settings were off! After a near disaster with a corporate photo client (who will remain unnamed!), I made a pact with myself that I would no longer take photographs unless I followed a camera checklist every single time.

So here it is. My checklist is very simple to follow and if you have a Nikon SLR camera, it is even simpler to carry out. My checklist is to simply press each and every white-labeled button on the exterior of the camera. Pushing all the white buttons will quickly show you most of the important settings on your camera. I start with the lower left on the back of the camera and work my way around the top and front of the camera. Specifically, I press the following buttons: QUAL, ISO, WB, Autofocus Pattern, Exposure Mode, Metering Mode, Exposure Compensation, AF-C/S/M switch, Shooting Mode, Flash Mode and any other white labeled button that I forgot to mention.

When you push these buttons, the top LCD screen will show you how the camera is currently configured. For example, pushing the ISO button will show you what ISO value you have set in the camera. If you had just finished shooting a sports match at ISO 800, and you are now going to photograph a landscape scene, it would be wise to change it back to ISO 100.

If I have more time available before the shoot, then I will go into my camera’s menu system and check all my custom settings. This can be a real chore on a camera like the D2X or the D200, since there are literally hundreds of settings you can choose from. Rather than make changes for each situation I come across, I set up programmable menu banks that I can pre-set to general topics such as “Landscape” or “Sports” or “Portrait”. This makes it easy and quick to setup my camera for different shooting situations.

I run through my “white button” checklist every time I change location, lighting conditions or venues. This is important because the simple act of going from one room to the next can involve a change to white balance and ISO. Changing venues can mean changing the auto-focus system from AF-S to AF-C and then also changing the auto-focus pattern from single area to group dynamic. The act of pushing each white labeled button on the camera forces me to make a conscious decision about each camera setting. It takes less than ten seconds to do this in the field and the benefits are that I don’t have to go back and fix my mistakes later on. You know the famous 13th Century quote by Henry de Bracton, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” How true it is.

Workshop Updates:

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
Our next iTTL workshop is scheduled for April 20th in Seattle, WA and still has some seats available. After that, we have one scheduled on May 12th in Portland, OR. These are some of our most popular workshops and we’ve only set up a few of them for 2007. If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We are offering topics such as D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX and Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the www.nikonians.org. We’ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Throughout the year we’ll also be adding more topics and cities as we add qualified instructors. Our dates are posted here: www.greaterphoto.com.. If you are thinking of signing up, you had better hurry since we have already sold 50% of the seats for the entire 2007 schedule! There are a few workshops that are already completely sold out in various cities.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ve scheduled them in the Northwest for Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Our first D200 workshops in the NW are scheduled for January 2007. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have right now are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/26/07 ~ 4/29/07 and North Cascades NP/Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07. The Columbia River Gorge workshop in April is completely sold out and has a waiting list. The North Cascades workshop in September still has seats available. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Thanks for all your great emails and communication. Stephanie and I work hard to get back to each of you as fast as possible. We love this business and look forward to hearing of your travels, experiences and photo encounters. Now, get out this month and take some great 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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GOAL Assignment (see text)

January Answers: Seeing in Black and White.

Notice how the color image has nice separation between elements in the photograph. The B&W version is fairly flat because of a lack of contrast. Contrast in our photos is a key to great B&W photo conversions.
Nikon D2X, 70-200 f2.8, Gitzo CF Tripod



A photo like this with the leaf will make a better B&W conversion because it has a much higher contrast between the leaf and the background.
Nikon D2X, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.


Here's the Photoshop Channel Mixer dialog box.


This is one B&W conversion from Channel Mixer.


Here's the Alien Skin Exposure B&W conversion using T-Max 100 and a modified tone curve to darken the leaf.



Photoshop Elements 5.0 has quite a few easy B&W conversion tools.


Picasa is a free program and has numerous B&W converters too!


Nikon Capture NX method incorporates the ability to add a color filter to simulate the way we used to take photos. We'd use a Red or Orange or Yellow to try to highlight certain colors in the scene.


Your February GOAL assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to take photographs that include motion. I'll post lots more example photos and tips in next month's newsletter.




Flash Brackets (see text)

This is a very simple Side Mount flash bracket. You can find these very cheap at most camera stores. They are good for outdoor portraits, but not good for indoor photos since they cast a shadow to the side of the subject.


This flash bracket from Stroboframe rotates the flash rather than the camera. I like to set it up so the bracket handle is on the left side of the camera. I hold the bracket with my left hand and the camera body with my right hand. Also, you can see that you'll need to wrap the TTL cord around the handle of the bracket.


Here's the Stroboframe Quickflip when it is flipped vertically.


Sometimes when you buy a bracket you need to come up with your own mounting methods. Here, I had to buy a 1/4" x 20 wingnut to mount my SC-17 cable to the bracket.


I think the very best brackets on the market today are from a company called Custom Brackets (www.custombrackets.com). Shown below is the QRS-H2.




Product Overview: Nikon R1C1 Macro Flash System (see text)

Here's the system mounted on a camera. The top unit is the SU-800. The front flashes are the SB-R200 closeup flashes.


This is the box that it ships in. It is full of hidden treasure!


Below: the SB-R200 flashes can be mounted on your camera lens or on their own little stands.


Below: Here's a look at the back of the SU-800. It is much smaller than an SB-800, which lightens your load when you are out taking photographs.


The R1C1 kit ships with all kinds of accessories. Here is the gel pack that is included.


Here are some flower shots that I took today with the R1C1 system. Total setup time was about 45 seconds!


February 2007 Newsletter

Out There Images, Inc. Newsletter - February 2007

I hope you’ve been out taking lots of photographs this month. With all the snow and crazy weather here in the Northwest USA, I’ve been out trying to take some pics to capture the chaos! We’ve been inundated by lots of storms over the last few months and I’m very ready for Spring to come in like a lamb.

I’m leaving tomorrow to lead photography workshops with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) down in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It will be a fun couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to meeting up with the fine folks at Samy’s Camera in Hollywood, CA (www.samys.com). They always treat us well and are generous with their time and resources. If you ever get a chance to stop by their store, please do so!

The week after we return from California, we have two workshops in Seattle. The first, Digital Workflow on 2/16/07 still has some seats remaining. The second, D80/D70 on 2/17/07 is completely sold out!

Our eBook on the Nikon Wireless flash system continues to sell very well and we are grateful for the accolades we’ve received so far. People are writing every day talking about the book and how it has helped them unlock their creative potential with the SB-800 and SB-600 wireless flash systems. Thank you for your kind and generous comments. You can find the book here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.

We have a couple of new book titles in the works and I’m hoping to have the next one ready to go within the next two months. I wish I could write and format and edit faster because I have more topics than I know what to do with. These things take too much time!

Anyways, onto the newsletter. This month is packed with great information on black and white conversion, flash brackets and the R1C1 wireless macro flash system!

January GOAL Assignment: Thinking in Black and White
Last month, I asked you to go out and take some photographs with the intention of converting them to black and white. When you take pictures with a B&W print in mind as your final product, you should “see” the scene a little differently than just a color rendition. Black and white photography is all about tonal reproduction and not necessarily about color reproduction.

Tonal reproduction means that we are generally concerned with the brightness, or reflectance, of the object you are photographing. In color photography, you can use both tone and color to separate elements of the scene. In B&W photography, you only have tonality to separate elements.

Therefore, it is imperative that you understand which colors have the same reflectance values and which colors have different reflectance values. For example, the color red is almost the same brightness as the color green. If you do a black and white conversion of a red rose and green grass, the resulting image won’t have very much contrast! Look at the example here of some trees in the Olympic National Park forest. The color image is vibrant and alive because we can use color to separate elements of the picture. The black and white conversion is a bit drab because the browns aren’t that much different in tonality than the greens. The resulting image is a bit drab!

So, the key to great black and white conversion begins in the camera when you capture your image. Your job as a photographer is to find contrasting elements in the photograph that will look good when later converted to black and white. For example, find a green leaf in front of a dark background or white clouds against a blue sky. Black and white is a great place for high contrast images.

One of the easiest ways to understand brightness of an image is to use your camera’s spot meter and set your camera to “Manual” exposure mode. Point your camera’s spot meter at different parts of the image and pay attention to the different exposure values. Green grass and red flowers will have the same exposure value. These would be “bad” for a black and white conversion. However, a yellow flower in front of a shady area has at least a 3 ~ 4 stop difference between their exposure values. This would be “good” for B&W conversion. Keep in mind however that my “good” could be your “bad”, so just take these as a general approach.

In this digital age, converting images to black and white with software has become easier than ever. It is amazing to me that just about every software package out there has a B&W conversion tool available. Here are some ideas and examples for converting your images to black and white.

Photoshop Channel Mixer
Perhaps the best known method for black and white conversion is using Photoshop Channel Mixer. There are a couple ways to apply access the channel mixer tool. First is to go to the menu and choose Image --> Adjustments --> Channel Mixer. The second is to add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer from your “layers” palette.

Once the channel mixer dialog window is open, you then go about turning the photo into black and white by clicking on the “monochrome” box. Next, you make changes to the photograph by moving the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) sliders until you are happy with the results. The general consensus is that you want the resulting totals to be equal to 100%. However, I break this rule all the time. I’ll go below 100% to make the image darker or above 100% to brighten it up a bit. The great thing about this tool is that it allows you to just play around until you’re happy with the results. Look at the photos to the left of the green leaf adjusted with the channel mixer tool.

Photoshop Plug-ins
One of my favorite Photoshop plug-in is from Alien Skin, named “Exposure” (www.alienskin.com). This plug-in gives you an incredible amount of control when converting your images to black and white. The program’s specialty is how it allows you to emulate specific film types and then configure the results to your liking.

When I used to shoot film, one of my favorite Black and White emulsions was T-Max 100. I liked the contrast and overall look of the film. Therefore, I like to use Alien Skin Exposure to simulate that T-Max look I had before.

The program works similar to other filters in Photoshop and the interface is fairly straight forward. The program includes the ability to change the tonal curve and it has a built-in channel mixer function. Additionally, you can add grain/texture as well as a myriad of other great effects.

Photoshop Elements 5.0
For the money, I can’t imagine a better program! It is amazing to me that Adobe provides such a powerful program for just $69. I tell people all the time to start out with Photoshop Elements and then, once you determine you are ready for more power, plunk down the $650 and buy the full version of Photoshop CS3.

Elements has a great black and white conversion tool built-in. You get to the B&W tool from the menus by clicking Enhance --> Convert to Black and White (Alt+Ctrl+B). The interface is easy to use and shows a great preview of the choice you made. Additionally, Photoshop Elements has all kinds of ways to spruce up your image afterwards. For example, I added a sloppy border to the image from a big selection of border choices.

Picasa
Picasa is a free program from Google (http://picasa.google.com/) that has a lot of easy and quick photo editing solutions built right into the program. While Picasa isn’t a “professional” tool, I’m the first to say that it is a lot of fun. I’ve been using non-professional tools my entire career and find that it is frequently more fun to play around with the “click and go” programs than it is to futz around in Photoshop until I’m blue in the face!

Picasa has a bunch of black and white conversions such as B&W, Warmify, Tint, Sepia, Soft Focus, Filtered B&W. The interface couldn’t be simpler to use and I can get some results in Picasa faster than I can get in Photoshop. Try it and I know you’ll like it.

Nikon Capture NX
Nikon Capture NX (www.capturenx.com) has become an essential tool in my digital process just because of the power it affords me when working on digital files. I thoroughly enjoy using it for black and white conversions as it has a few ways to accomplish the conversion. The standard B&W conversion method is by using the “Black and White” conversion dialog. This is pretty ingenious and allows you to choose a filter color for the conversion just like we did back in the film days. We’d use a yellow, orange or red filter to bias the film to record only different colors of the color spectrum. I used a red filter on this image of the green leaf to increase the contrast. Beautiful!

Capture NX also has a “Photo Effects” tool that allows black and white conversion using a channel mixer-like interface.

February GOAL Assignment: Show the Motion
Most of the time as photographers, we are doing everything possible to freeze motion in our pictures. We like them to be sharp and crisp to show detail. However, some of the most creative photographs we can take are those that creatively show motion by incorporating blur.

Your GOAL assignment this month is to take some blurry photos on purpose. I would like you to try a few things such as:
1. Panning with a moving subject (car, bike, bird)
2. Moving your camera (rotating, twisting)
3. Zooming your lens during exposure
4. Incorporating blur from a plant blowing in the wind
5. Using slow sync flash
In next month’s newsletter, I’ll include some tips and tricks for great motion photography.

Photo Tips: Flash brackets.
I receive quite a few questions every month on flash brackets from photographers wondering how to exactly use them. Most of the questions revolve around sincere frustration that stems from folks who bought a bracket and never really got it working properly. Therefore I thought I’d write an article explaining their usage, different brands, types, and considerations you should take into account when buying one.

First of all, the general purpose of a flash bracket is to move the flash away from the camera body. Most professional photographers know that on-camera flash will generally result in a fairly “flat” photo. By flat, I mean that there is no modeling or shadowing on the subject. We generally strive to move the flash off the camera so we can create depth and dimension on the subject.

This is all well and good, however, there are many times in our photography that it just doesn’t make sense to run around with a bunch of light stands and umbrellas that are off camera. Weddings and events are typical places where you want to be free of the bonds of lighting systems and would like to have a portable lighting system attached to your camera.

A second thing that flash brackets do is to help eliminate shadows behind the subject when they are positioned near a wall. If you take a vertical photo with on-camera flash, you typically create harsh shadows on the wall behind your photo subject. These shadows are generally considered bad. Funny isn’t it? A shadow on the person’s face is good but a shadow on the wall is bad. Hmm.

So, the flash bracket does three things. First, it gets the flash away from the camera body to create modeling on the subject’s face. Second, it keeps the flash above the camera body so the shadow falls down behind the subject (the shadow is still there, it’s just hidden behind the person). Third, it helps prevent red-eye by moving the flash away from the lens. There are probably lots of other things flash brackets are good for (such as swatting at flies), but I only want to cover the photographic uses.

Now that you understand the basic reasons to use a flash bracket, let’s look at different types of flash brackets. There are generally three types:
- Side flash mount
- A bracket that rotates the flash
- A bracket that rotates the camera
A side mount flash bracket allows you to get nice modeling effect on the subject, but doesn’t solve the issue of shadows on the back wall. If you are photographing people/objects in the outdoors, then a side-mount bracket will work just fine because there aren’t walls to cast a shadow on.

A flash rotating bracket is used for indoor event photography where you want the shadows to fall behind and below the subject. This type of bracket flips the flash itself from horizontal to vertical when you change the orientation of your camera. I like these types of brackets because they are very light weight. They generally use just a simple bolt as a pivot. The drawback to a system like this is that it doesn’t securely hold your flash in a single position. The “flip” portion of the bracket tends to be loose. I use the Stroboframe Quickflip model (www.tiffen.com/Stroboframe_quickflip_page.htm) and have chosen it for its light weight rather than for its perfect functionality. If I photograph with my D2X, a 70-200 f2.8 lens, a flash and a bracket, then the whole contraption weights more than a Sherman tank! Ouch.

I think the very best brackets you can buy are the ones that rotate the camera rather than the flash. These keep the flash in the top position at all times, but allow you to spin the camera around the lens axis when you want to shoot vertical compositions. The upside is simple operation but the downside is weight. These types of systems require a ball-bearing mechanism or 4-bar linkage to rotate the camera.

Most of the time, you can’t just buy a bracket and then start using it immediately. There are probably some other parts you need to buy before the bracket will work with your system. Some brackets are set up with a “cold shoe” that allows you to just place your flash in the shoe. The problem with this is that you can’t connect a TTL cable between your flash and your camera. The TTL cable generally has a threaded nut on the bottom of it that accepts a ¼” x 20 bolt. Therefore, you’ll have to find a wing nut or other type of ¼” x 20 bolt to mount the TTL cable onto the bracket. Other brackets already come equipped with the screw, so you won’t have to worry about finding your own parts.

The next thing that comes into play is which side should you mount the handle of the bracket. For example, the Stroboframe Quickflip gives you the choice of mounting the bracket on the left of the camera or the right of the camera. I choose to always mount the bracket handle on the left of the camera so that I can hold the system with two hands while shooting. This also allows me to dangle the system at my side when I’m not photographing. I can hold the bracket in my left hand or the camera in my right hand, sharing the load during a photo event so that I don’t strain one arm over the other.

Finally, you will probably want to consider which TTL cable you want to use between the flash and the camera. I use an old SC-17 for my Nikon system and it works just fine. However, the cable is too long, so I have to wrap it around the handle of my bracket. There are a few companies out there that will shorten your cables for you, however if you are good with tools, you can do it yourself very easily. I choose to keep my cable long so I can use it for other purposes.

If you are looking to buy a bracket, then I highly recommend Custom Brackets (www.custombrackets.com). They make the best flash brackets I have ever seen. I’ve met the owner down at the PMA show and was impressed with his friendliness and honesty. His company makes a great product! I recommend the QRS-H2 model for a camera-rotation model and the CB Junior for a light weight system.

Product Overview: Nikon Wireless R1C1 kit.
Nikon’s wireless TTL flash system has revolutionized our concept of flash photography by making it possible to have a traveling studio system that is light weight and portable. I’ve been using the Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System) for a few years now and have grown to enjoy the flexibility and easy with which I can quickly set up lights, take the picture and then move on. My entire traveling light kit often times fits inside a small duffel bag!

About a year ago, Nikon started selling the R1C1 macro lighting kit and I was immediately intrigued. However, it wasn’t until a month ago when I finally purchased it for my own use. The R1C1 kit comes in a black box that is reminiscent of the Japanese Bento Box! It has little compartments for all the gizmos that ship with the kit. The first time you unpack it is like finding a box of treasure. Just the process of unpacking it is a lot of fun!

The R1C1 kit includes a bevy of products aimed at helping you create beautiful macro photographs. First, it includes the SU-800 wireless commander. This replaces your SB-800 commander flash or your camera’s pop-up commander flash. The SU-800 can only work as a commander unit as it doesn’t output visible light. It isn’t really a “flash” because it only outputs IR light signals for triggering the remote flash.

Second, the kit ships with two SB-R200 flashes. These are very small remote flashes that can be placed just about anywhere around your photo subject. They can mount on a ring directly to the lens or they can mount on small “feet” to be placed near the subject. These flashes can also be set on light stands or tripods for easy placement.

Third, the kit includes all kinds of lighting modifiers such as gels, a scrim clamp, a diffusion panel and miniature soft boxes for the SB-R200 flashes. Coming up with a creative lighting setup is simple and quick.

The kit is very well thought out and opens up a myriad of creative possibilities. Operation of the system is very easy. You simply turn the dials on the remote flashes to the correct channel/group. I wish all the other Nikon flashes were this easy to operate. The SU-800 is simple to use too. Just press the SEL button to make changes to each group/channel and then press the MODE and up/down buttons to change how the remote flashes are set for power.

While the R1C1’s purpose is shooting macro subjects, I have enjoyed using for all kinds of photography. I love using the SU-800 controller as a CLS controller for my “studio” SB-800 and SB-600 lights. Since the SU-800 is so much smaller than a SB-800, my camera weighs less and is easier to pack around. At the same time, the little SB-R200 flashes are great for adding a little kick to a portrait photograph or backlighting to an outdoor scenic.

At around $650, the R1C1 isn’t cheap, however, I love using it and it won’t take long for it to pay for itself with the new photographs I create. Another additional expense derives from the fact that the R1C1 uses CR123 lithium batteries. If you buy non-rechargeable CR-123s, they cost about $3~$7 each! I couldn’t stomach spending that much money every time I wanted to change batteries, so I found some rechargeable Lithiums at Thomas Distributing (www.thomasdistributing.com) for $10 each.

Look for more example photos, real world usage and updates on the R1C1 in future newsletter editions.

Workshop Updates:

Digital Workflow
Digital workflow is on everybody’s mind right now and I can’t recommend this class enough. The next Digital Workflow Workshops is scheduled for February 16th, 2007. This workshop covers topics that every digital photographer struggles with: questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
These are some of our most popular workshops and we’ve set up a few of them for 2007. If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We are going to be offering topics such as D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX and Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the www.nikonians.org. We’ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Throughout the year we’ll also be adding more topics and cities as we add qualified instructors. Our dates are posted here: www.greaterphoto.com.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ll be offering these in the Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Our first D200 workshops in the NW are scheduled for January 2007. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have right now are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/26/07 ~ 4/29/07. North Cascades NP and Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Keep shooting my friends. The only way to get better is to get out and learn!

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
253-851-9054 (office)
360-750-1103 (mobile)





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GOAL Assignment (see text)

December Answers: Finding the Picture Within the Picture.

Instead of settling for the traditional "Big Church Cathedral" shot, I waited for someone to walk down the aisle of St. Peter's Church to create the silhouette. I purposely tilted the horizon to help the photo look a little more off the cuff.
Nikon D200, 12-24mm, handheld.



I continued looking for more pictures and found this man lighting candles. It was a pretty boring shot actually, so I kept looking to find the picture within a picture.
Nikon D200, 12-24mm, handheld.



I think the best picture was the photo of just the candles. It shows a warm atmosphere and mood. I set the candles at an angle to create a more dynamic shot.
Nikon D200, 12-24mm, handheld.


Lunar Lander at the Smithsonian. The shot is pretty good, but I needed more impact somehow. So, I kept searching for the picture within the picture.
Nikon D200, 12-24mm, handheld.



After walking around the lander for a few minutes, I put on a longer lens to force myself to find other images. I found the picture within the picture by aiming my lens at the astronaut's helmet and noting the reflection of the other astronaut.
Nikon D200, 70-200 f2.8 VR, handheld.


I found some interesting patterns at one of our healthy trips to McDonalds! The moral of the story is to keep looking for images no matter where you are. Keep trying to find the picture within the picture.
D200, 28-70 f2.8, handheld.





Your January GOAL assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to take three photos with the intention of converting them to black and white. I'll post lots more B&W photos and tips in next month's newsletter.




Large Photo Shoot Images (see text)

Here's the classroom where I took the photos of the 162 students. You can see the "studio" I set up in a corner with the green background (butcher paper).


Another shot of the studio. The "X" on the floor is where I had each child stand for the portrait. The flash is an SB-800 connected with a TTL cord (SC-17).


Downloading and processing images after the shoot on my laptop.


Here's a screen shot of iView Media Pro where I entered keywords, captions and copyright information. Right after this, I burned the CDs so the teachers could take the photos and print them at the corner drug store.


The finished product. What mother wouldn't love a picture like this for Christmas?




Product Reviews (see text)

Eizo Color Edge 21" Monitor
Just one word. Awesome!


MAHA Battery Charger
The MH-C801D model will charge up to eight cells independently with its microprocessor controlled charging system. I love it and it has made my battery management much easier.


Lexar Pro CF Card reader.
If you need the speed, then it is hard to beat this model for downloading your images to your computer.


Photoflex Convertable 45" Umbrellas
I really like the ability to shoot with square or octagonal umbrellas. All in one easy-to-carry package!


Wacom Pen Tablet
The Wacom Intuos 3 pen tablet has brought a new dimension to my Photoshop work and I can't believe I've worked this long without it. The model I just purchased was the 4" x 6" unit so I can easily transport it to workshops, but I recommend a larger for easier use.


January 2007 Newsletter

Out There Images, Inc. Newsletter - January 2007

Happy New Year!

A whole new year is upon us and I am excited for the opportunity to continue taking photographs, continue leading workshops and continue challenging myself as a photographer. I hope that you do the same by reading this newsletter and putting into practice what you learn.

Our business continues to be good and we’ll be offering many more workshops in 2007, a few more books and lots of new learning opportunities. We are looking forward to the year and can’t wait to get started.

We’ve had a crazy December here in Washington State with a huge winter storm that knocked out power to 1 million people (including us). It also blew down thousands of big trees, with one of them knocking a big hole in our home and office! Additionally, our internet web host (based on the East Coast of the USA) was hit by its own storm and hasn’t been able to get our email service back online for a week now! If you have written an email to us, but haven’t received a reply, it is most likely because our email service is completely down. They assure me they are aggressively working on fixing it. Right!

GOAL Assignment:
December GOAL Assignment: The Picture Within the Picture.

Ok, all you over-achievers, how did you do at finding the picture within the picture? Our GOAL assignment for this month was to find photographs that go deeper than the “easy” photo. I wanted you to keep photographing a scene until you found something that was truly interesting. Forcing yourself to look hard for new photos is a skill that you can’t practice enough. I think it is one of the keys to great photography because it encourages you to seek out the essence of the scene.

I have three examples here where I worked to find the picture within the picture. The first is a series of photographs that I took at St. Peters’ Church by the World Trade Center in New York. I started taking photos of the interior of the church … you know the ones that show the ceiling arches and the pews. I wasn’t too happy with my results, so I began pushing myself to “find” a photo within the church that better showed the atmosphere. The first shot I kneeled down on the floor and waited for someone to walk down the aisle to get their silhouette. Next, I went to the back of the church by the candles to see if I could get a shot with someone lighting a candle. The picture was just ok, but I knew I wanted something a little more dramatic. So, I decided to take the pic with only the candles. I like that one best. You never know what might sell to a photo buyer, so be sure to photograph lots of angles.

The second set of examples I have here are from the Lunar Lander at the Smithsonian Museum. I took about five shots of the Lander from various angles, but it just wasn’t happening photographically. So, I changed lenses to a more telephoto lens and went for some tight shots. It was only then when I found a reflection in one of the helmet masks where I could see the rest of the module and the other astronaut. Perfect. My picture within a picture was complete. Sometimes in photography, less is more.

Finally, this last month I took my children to a McDonalds for a well rounded meal! While there, I noticed all the neat shapes on the ceiling and on the chairs. I took out my camera and started photographing to see if I could come up with a neat composition. I snapped off about 10 photographs and finally found two compositions that I liked. They are simple shots, but actually took a fair amount of searching and moving about to find. They may not ever sell, but I like them anyways. I like the s-curves, the colors and the textures. Fun stuff!

January 2007 GOAL Assignment
There is a big resurgence in black and white photography these days as people are finding newfound freedom with easy-to-use software conversion tools. My GOAL assignment for you this month is to take three photos with the intent of converting them to black and white. For the over achievers in the group, make some actual 8”x10” prints to see how well your conversions were. Here are some photographic subject ideas.
- Portrait
- Cloudy day
- Automobile
- Stairwell
- Sunrise
- Landscape
- Technology

Next month, I’ll give a number of things to think about when photographing for black and white. I’ll also include some great conversion tips to use various software packages that you can put into use right away.



Digital Tidbits: How to quickly put together a large photo shoot

(see photos to left)

In early December, my son’s teacher asked me to volunteer my Professional Photography services for a school assembly they were having called “Sharing and Caring.” The school puts on an annual assembly where they collect presents for homeless and underprivileged kids. This year, the school collected thousands of new toys, games, and presents that they donated to local relief organizations.

All the kids in the school were all dressed up in red shirts and the teachers wanted to give each parent a framed portrait of their child. That’s where I came in. My son’s teacher wanted me to take pictures of all the students from the Multi-Age Program classes and then immediately prepare them for printing. There were 162 kids, so that meant taking at least 162 portraits, processing them and burning them to disk in a matter of a couple hours. Here’s how I did it.

I had asked the teacher to put up green butcher paper on a wall somewhere in the room and to leave me about 15 feet of space in front of the background. I arrived about ten minutes before the school bell rang and set up my quick portable studio in one of the teacher’s classrooms. I used my Nikon D200 camera for the shots. On the right side, I set up one single SB-800 flash in a 32” white umbrella for the key light. Since I was going to take quite a few shots and I knew I didn’t have any time for missed shots, I hooked up the SB-800 flash to my camera through a dedicated SC-17 TTL cable. One the left side, I used a 42” white reflector to fill in the shadows. I balanced the reflector on a portable chalk board stand.

On the floor, I used masking tape to place an “X” where I wanted the kids to stand. I made sure to place the X about 5 feet away from the background so the shadow wouldn’t show up in the photograph. Then, I went through my pre-camera mental checklist to set up everything for the photos. First, I set my ISO to 200. Next, I set my image quality to JPEG Fine. Since I was going direct to print and I was going to do a good job with exposure and white balance, JPEG would do the job very well.

I stepped over to my flash and set it for Manual output at 1/16 power, then placed my Sekonic L-358 flash meter at the location where the kids would be standing for the photo. I aimed the dome of the meter towards the camera lens and then triggered the flash for a reading. The meter said to set my camera for 1/60 second at f5.6. Perfect. I set the camera for 1/60 sec at f5.6 and then began my white balance settings.

I dialed the D200 white balance to “Pre” in order to capture a custom white balance value. Then, I aimed the camera at my Lastolite gray card target to get a custom white balance setting. Done! I took a test shot of a kid who was passing through to make sure I had everything correct. Now I have my exposure, white balance, ISO and lighting all set and ready to go. Total time was about 8 minutes. I have two minutes to spare until the kids come in the room.

Once Kids started coming into the room, I had them all stand in a long line in order to queue them for the photos. One by one, they stepped into the “studio” and stood on the X on the floor. Since each kid was a different height, I adjusted the umbrella height in order to get a nice catch light in their eyes. The process moved very smoothly as I photographed each class.

After I finished with the first two classes, I removed my CF card from the camera to begin downloading the images. I downloaded the images to my portable hard drive which is a Western Digital Passport 40GB drive. It is tiny and perfect for situations like this. As those pictures downloaded, I continued taking photographs of the other classes.

It took about 40 minutes to photograph all six classes (162 kids). Once we finished moved my laptop to the back of the room where I complete downloading the images. After the images were downloaded, I did a quick review on the laptop to make sure all the kids’ eyes were opened and that we had nice smiles. I found that one of my images was corrupted due to a bad CF memory card, so I had to go track down that kid to take his picture again.

Once all this was done, I used iView Media Pro 3 to annotate and caption all the images. I added my copyright notice and keywords to all the images, and also renamed each of the images. Then, I burned the images to CD-ROMs for the teachers to keep. They told me before hand that they were going to do the printing themselves at the local Walgreen’s Drug Store. Since I knew this, I made sure to set my color space to sRGB, Mode Ia. This is important if you are printing at a commercial mini-lab like Walgreen’s since their machines natively print in the sRGB space anyways.

The total time elapsed from arrival to completion was about 1.5 hours.

After school that day, the teachers took the images to be printed at Walgreen’s and the images were turned around in one hour. They brought the images back to school the next day and handed the framed prints out to the parents for Christmas presents. The colors were excellent, the prints were sharp and exposures were perfect.

The elements that made this whole production come together easily were based on very sound digital workflow methods. Specifically,
1. Choosing the correct color space (sRGB).
2. Setting up exposure properly using a calibrated light meter (Sekonic L-358).
3. Using a custom white balance to nail the colors (gray card).
4. Using good lighting skills (Key and fill with appropriate lighting ratios).

Since all these steps were taken at the beginning, the photos were ready to print with absolutely no Photoshop work. I’ll take that any day!


Product Reviews
Eizo Color Edge CE210W Monitor
After years of working with CRT monitors, I finally decided to take the plunge and buy a high-end LCD flat panel by EIZO (http://www.eizo.com). I’ve been talking about EIZO monitors for quite a long time and was able to try one out at last year’s PMA show down in Orlando, Florida. I was very impressed with the colors, the brightness and the fidelity of the monitor I used at the show. EIZO makes a number of different models and I decided to buy the CE210W.

This is a fairly large 21” screen in 16:9 wide-screen format. It has a pixel resolution of 1680 x 1050 px and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. I especially like the wide viewing angle of 178 degrees. This means that I can look at the screen from high, low, left and right and still get the same brightness and colors. In the past, I have shied away from lower cost LCD panels just because they traditionally didn’t have consistent colors when viewed from different angles.

I paid about $1200 for the monitor. I’ve been very happy with it so far and I can’t recommend it enough. They work great with PC systems or with Macs as they have both analog and digital inputs. Color calibration is easy and straightforward.

CRT monitors are still a fantastic option for those who don’t want to spend all the money on a professional LCD. I still have my CRTs and will hold on to them just because I’ve been so happy with them over the years.

MAHA AA and AAA Battery Charger
I use a lot of AA batteries and seem to go through them like crazy. Most of the battery chargers I’ve owned over the years will only charge two cells at a time or four cells at a time. I finally got fed up with having to charge batteries in groups of two or four, so I purchased a MAHA microprocessor-controlled charger that will let you charge cells independent from each other. What this means is that the charger will individually charge each cell depending on its own full/empty status.

The model I purchased is the MH-C801D and so far I’ve found the charger to be reliable. It has given me consistent results every time. There are basically three modes on the charger.
- Fast charge mode where it charges AA batteries in about one hour. I haven’t used this mode, just because it is a pretty aggressive charge and can overheat the cells.
- Soft charge mode where it charges AA cells in a few hours. This is the mode I use most of the time since it maximizes battery performance and life.
- Conditioning mode. I use this mode about every ten charge cycles or so to recondition the cells and give me more capacity.

You can find this charger at Thomas Distributing (http://www.thomas-distributing.com/) for about $70 USD. You can also sometimes find discounts on www.amazon.com.

Lexar Pro CF Card Reader
Speed is king in digital photography and the faster I can get my images downloaded, the faster I can complete a job. Lexar has created a great line of CF card readers called the Lexar Pro Card Reader. Last month, I purchased this model for $70 and have been downloading with it ever since. I’m amazed at how much faster it is than my older readers. I can download my 133x cards in about ½ to ¼ the time. It even downloads my slower cards much faster.

The Lexar Pro CF reader isn’t the fastest reader on the market, but it does pretty well for the money. I’ll be using it for quite a while until I find something better!

Photoflex Convertible Umbrellas
I’m always looking for the most flexibility possible in my lighting equipment. Since I do so much traveling and I like to travel light, I generally bring along umbrellas for my location lighting needs. Umbrellas fold up very small and provide a great source of diffused light. However, there have been quite a few times where I wished I could have had a different shape of light for my subject.

Most umbrellas only give round catch lights or highlights. Recently, I found that Photoflex has been making “convertible” umbrellas that will give you the traditional shape (round) or a converted shape of square. The umbrellas work the same as any other umbrella, however the ribs can be repositioned to form a square shape as well. The resulting catch lights look like squares in the eyes and provide a nice departure from the standard round.

I really like photographic tools that serve more than one purpose and these fit the bill! I ordered two of the Photoflex ADW 45 units which are 45” diameter and white satin on the reflective surface. They were $29.95 each! The units are built pretty well and should stand up to lots of use. I liked the results of shooting with these umbrellas, so these will go on the road with me from now on!

Wacom Tablet
I never really believed all the hype about using a pen tablet for Photoshop work. I saw all the magazine ads and all the photographers who would say “Once you use this, your life will never be the same again!” Well, I had to see if the Wacom tablets were everything they were cracked up to be, so I broke down and bought the Intuos-3 4”x6” tablet.

Wow. That’s all I can say. This is a powerful tool for high-end Photoshop work. I’ve had a lot of fun with this pad since purchasing it and can’t believe how much more freedom it gives me in my editing process. It is also going to save me a lot of time in my Photoshop work because of how much more efficient it is to use than a standard mouse.

One of the most important features is the ability to vary the size of the brush depending on how hard I push on the pen. For example, last week I wanted to blur out some background elements in a photograph so I used a Gaussian blur on a duplicate layer. Then, I added a black layer mask to hide the effect. Finally, I started painting on the layer mask with white over the areas I wanted to blur. By varying the pressure of the pen, I could lightly paint next to the subject for fine detail work and then heavily paint far away from the subject to cover more surface area with the same stroke. When I was finished, the result was much better than I ever could have achieved with a mouse.

You can buy the Wacom 4” x 6” pad for about $229 from most retailers. Wacom makes a number of different sizes and I would recommend erring on the size of “bigger” rather than “smaller”. I’ve found a few times already where I wished I had a bigger pad for my 21” monitor. But for now, the 4”x6” will do just fine.

The first time you use the pen, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you figure out how to “click”, “double click”, and “right mouse click” things start falling into place. Now that I’ve been using the pad for a month or so, I can definitively say “Your life will never be the same again.” At least your Photoshop life will never be the same again.

Workshop Updates:

Our 2007 workshops are selling like crazy and I am very grateful for your enthusiasm to learn photography! We have a few seats remaining in our January iTTL flash workshops in Seattle and Portland. Also, even though we haven’t published all the details on the April Art of Travel workshop, we are almost sold out with people on the sign up list. We’ll have the details. Posted within the next few days.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
These are some of our most popular workshops and we’ve set up a few of them for 2007. If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We are going to be offering topics such as D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX and Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the www.nikonians.org. We’ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Throughout the year we’ll also be adding more topics and cities as we add qualified instructors. Our dates are posted here: www.greaterphoto.com.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ll be offering these in the Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Our first D200 workshops in the NW are scheduled for January 2007. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
The next Digital Workflow Workshops is scheduled for February 16th, 2007. This workshop covers topics that every digital photographer struggles with: questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have right now are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/26/07 ~ 4/29/07. North Cascades NP and Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Here’s wishing you a great 2007. My hope is that you work hard to achieve your photographic goals. Learn as much as you possibly can by getting out and taking some pictures!

Happy New Year!

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
253-851-9054





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

November Answers:

This photograph of Mt. Rainier over Gig Harbor was taken after a storm blew through which created crystal clear skies. Since the atmosphere was free of haze, the colors on the clouds is nice and saturated.
Nikon N90s, Kodak Ektachrome 100, 24-120mm lens, gitzo tripod.


These two photos demonstrate the big difference a polarizing filter can make in your image. The image on the left is without a polarizer and the image on the right is with the polarizer. The polarizer cut the reflections from the foliage, darkened the sky and also helped eliminate light scatter from atmospheric haze. Big difference!
Nikon D2X, 70-200mm f2.8 lens, Circular Polarizer (Moose Filter).



I wanted to get the neat colors in the boats in Tokyo Harbor but I photographed them from a long ways away. That almost always results in washed out photos. Bleh.
Coolpix 800, handheld.


Later in the day in a Rural area of Japan I found great colors in this red barn and green field. The key to getting saturated colors was to get close!
Coolpix 800, handheld.



Photograph your flowers on an overcast day to get the colors to pop!
Nikon D70, 24-120mm lens, Gitzo tripod.


Set your camera's Optimize Image settings to Color Mode III for more saturated colors.



Your December assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to find the picture within the picture. Take a photo of a great subject and then keep searching until you find more details. I'll post my "pictures within a picture" in next month's column.






Lightmeter Article Images (see text)

Sekonic L-358 Light Meter.
This is one of the easiest to use meters on the market. I highly recommend it.


This is a gray card target. It is medium brightness (18% gray).


This photo of the gray card was taken with the flash in TTL mode and the flash at 0.0 flash compensation. Notice the histogram is centered exactly in the middle - just what we would expect from a TTL flash when photographing a gray card. Note: this image is a screen capture of Photoshop and the histogram is almost identical to what you would see on your camera body.


This is a screen shot of a Nikon SB-800 flash in TTL Mode (or TTL BL). In this mode, you can't use a handheld lightmeter like the Sekonic L-358 to help you figure out your exposure. The reason why is that the flash outputs a pre-flash and a real flash. The light meter can't distinguish between the two.



The only way to use your handheld light meter with your flash is to set it up in Manual mode. Now your flash output will be constant from shot to shot and your handheld light meter will give you the correct exposure (shutter speed and aperture).



If you are using the Nikon wireless flash system, you can configure your Remote flashes to work in Manual output mode. However, in order for them to know when to fire, the Commander flash still has to communicate with them. It does this by putting out pulses of light. The photograph below shows an SB-800 Commander communicating with Remote flashes. I took a photo of the process by moving the Commander flash sideways while taking the image with a different camera body. These light pulses work similar to "Morse code" to communicate with the Remote flashes and I can identify at least 15 pulses of light in the sequence. It is obvious why you can't use a handheld light meter to judge the proper exposure for this setup. It has no way to identify which flash pulse it is supposed to measure!



December 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - December 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This is truly a season for joy and happiness and I hope this newsletter finds you enthusiastic about life. We have so much to be thankful for and my wish for you is that you take this time to express your thanks for all the good things in your life.

Many good things have been happening here at Out There Images, Inc. As lots of you already know, an organization called the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) has hired me to serve as their managing director for North American operations. This means that I’ll be creating their new workshops and operating a new training center called the Nikonians Academy (www.greaterphoto.com). This is an exciting opportunity and I am enthusiastic to take on this new challenge. My duties start on December 1st and will continue as long as they feel I’m doing a good job.

I will still be running and operating Out There Images, Inc. and will continue to run workshops in my own company. Anyone who has signed up for our 2007 workshops (flash workshops, camera workshops, digital workflow, Art of Travel, etc.) can still count on those events taking place. I guarantee they will be better than ever and will continue to be among the best workshops possible!

Are you looking for a great Christmas gift? Why don’t you buy your spouse or friend a workshop gift certificate! Contact us at mike@outthereimages.com to buy one or find out more details.

On another topic, if you are looking for a place to print your Christmas photos, I’d like to give a plug to a great photo printing lab called Color Incorporated (www.colorincprolab.com). The owners, Tim and Deanna Kasberger have a great business philosophy and treat their customers with ultimate respect. They print with the newest technology equipment and will help you solve just about any problem you come across. Their website is easy to use and they offer fast turnaround with excellent professional quality.

GOAL Assignment:
I’m sure you all did your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment from last month, right? The only way to learn is to practice, so my hope is encourage you do something every day to keep learning.

November’s GOAL assignment was to come up with some methods to get saturated colors in your photographs. I wanted you to take photographs of a flower, a landscape and a person while ensuring that your photos were fully saturated with color.

What a lot of photographers don’t realize is that colorful photos take a lot of work to accomplish. Most snapshots just don’t have the pizzaz that we expected to see. There are many reasons for this, so let me go through some of them and provide some solutions as well.

1. One of the first reasons for flat colors in your images has to do with atmospheric haze. The more atmosphere (air) you shoot through, the lower the contrast and color intensity in your photographs. In the little town where I live we have a great view of a mountain called Mt. Rainier. It is perfectly situated so that it forms a magnificent backdrop over the small harbor full of fishing boats, sail boats and yachts. It is the quintessential travel shot, however I’ve had a heck of a time getting just the right combination of light and haze-less days to take the photo. During the summer months, there are many cloudless days, but there aren’t that many haze-less days.

Haze is frequently the most common shot killer and almost always robs the scene of its saturated colors. So, what are the solutions to this? Quite simply, the answer is to wait for a haze free day. This normally happens after a big rain storm blows through or after a major shift in weather. I know from experience that the day after a rain storm will produce crystal clear skies. I also know that I have to act fast to take my photos, because two days after the rainstorm, the haze levels in the sky increases to the point where I can’t get great colors. So, the next time you see a shift in the weather, get out and take your mountain photo!

2. A decent workaround for hazy days is to use a polarizer filter. A polarizer does a number of things for your photographs. The first (and most obvious) is to give more contrast between a blue sky and white clouds. The second use is to reduce reflections from surfaces such as plants, windows and water. The third thing a polarizer does is help eliminate the effects of atmospheric haze. I recommend adding a circular polarizer to your camera bag right away. I personally use B+W brand and the Moose filter (http://www.thkphoto.com/products/moose/index.html). For those of you who want a more detailed look at polarizers, I recommend this site: http://www.mat.uc.pt/~rps/photos/filters_uv_pol/.

3. Another recommendation to saturate your photographs is to get closer. Frequently when I’m traveling, I’ll find a great building or landmark to photograph, but I know that I can’t photograph it from a mile away if I want the colors to be saturated. Rather, I need to get right up close to it. For example, I was in Japan a few years ago and was taking photos of Tokyo harbor (see images to the left). I wanted to capture the environment and some of the boat colors, however I was quite a distance away from the greens and reds of the boats. They just didn’t come through in the final image. Later in the day, I found a nice red building in front of green plants and decided to get close them for the shot. Notice how the reds and greens really pop! Think “30mm lens” rather than “300mm lens.”

4. It is well known to many professional photographers that if you want to saturate the colors in your image, then under expose a little bit. In the Mt. Rainier photograph to the left, I metered for the clouds but decided to under expose them by about 2/3 of a stop from where they should have been exposed. If I had exposed 2/3 of a stop brighter, the shadow detail might have come out a little better in the trees, but the nice pink sky would have been washed out.

5. Photograph flowers on an overcast day. Macro photographs really benefit from the light on overcast days. If you allow direct mid-day sun to fall on your flowers, parts of it will be totally blown out and parts of it will be lost in shadows. Overcast lighting illuminates everything evenly and help your colors really shine through.

6. Optimize your camera’s menu settings for saturated colors. Most cameras have a menu item in them called “Optimize Image” which allow you to change the Color Mode and Saturation levels. Typically you can choose from Color Mode I, Mode II or Mode III. Each of these Modes relates to color saturation. Mode III is the most color saturated of the three choices, so use this one if you want that color to come through. Beyond that, your camera frequently will allow you to choose “Enhanced Saturation” in the optimization menus. Use this to add even more punch to your colors.

There you have it! Six simple ways to add saturation to your images. Now get out and take some saturated color pics!

December 2006 GOAL Assignment
Whenever I photograph a new subject, I like to force myself to find the picture within the picture. I try to not be satisfied with my first shutter click and always force myself to look for more. I look for more detail, better lighting, better composition and better backgrounds. I do this by changing my lenses, changing my position, changing my height and even waiting until a different time of day.

For example, on a recent trip to an outdoor museum, I found this old Ford sitting under a carport. I photographed it in its environment and the shot came out pretty well. However, after a little bit of searching, I found a shot I liked better. The second photograph here is of the front grille. I like the colors, the saturation and the simplicity. This is what I call finding a picture within a picture.

Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment for December is to find three pictures within a picture. Look in your backyard. Look at the Christmas tree. Look on your favorite hiking trail. I’ll post the results of my “picture within a picture” photo adventure in next month’s newsletter!



Photo Techniques: Why Won’t My Hand-held Light Meter Work with My TTL Flash?

Over the last few months I’ve led six workshops that deal with flash photography. In every workshop there has been quite a bit of confusion about how to properly meter for flash photography. More specifically, people want to know how to meter for TTL flash photography. Lots of people are noticing that TTL flash doesn’t always give the best final exposure. In fact, many folks are finding that they are getting very dark images or very bright overexposed images when they use their TTL flash.

Understanding flash photography can be a daunting challenge. I remember when I first started photography, I’d put my flash on my camera and hope that somehow the camera would figure everything out. I also remember doing early assignments for magazines where I would show up for the photo shoot and confidently hook my flash up to a cable, place it behind an umbrella in TTL mode and snap away. On the outside I exuded confidence, but on the inside, I was biting my finger nails because I had absolutely no idea how my flash was working. I didn’t know if I should expect overexposed, underexposed or perfectly exposed photos.

Now, many years down the road (and lots of embarrassing photos later), I have come to the conclusion that there is no room in professional photography for winging it and hoping that the camera gets it right. Winging it is a quick path to the poorhouse. Flash photography is like anything else in life, if you want excellent results, then you have to work hard at achieving excellence.

Since TTL flash photography can be confusing, many people have asked why you can’t just use a handheld light meter like a Sekonic L-358 (see image to left) to figure out the TTL flash exposure. The answer is, you can’t! It is not possible to use your handheld light meter to tell you the correct shutter speed and aperture for your camera when your flash is in TTL (or TTL BL) mode. Why?

The first thing you have to understand is that TTL flash mode is an automatic flash mode where your camera tries to figure out the correct flash output for every scene. The TTL exposure system’s purpose in life is to give you a medium brightness exposure. In other words, if you were photographing a medium brightness scene like a granite rock or a small patch of green grass, then the flash exposure system would work really hard to expose it for medium brightness. In other words, it would give you a histogram in the middle of the graph. Look at the photo to the left of the gray card. You can see that the histogram is smack dab in the middle of the graph. The TTL meter did a great job!

In fact, the TTL system will try to expose most everything as medium brightness. For example, if you photograph a brighter object like a Caucasian’s face, then the TTL system will sometimes expose it as medium brightness (gray). If you photograph a dark brown suit, then the TTL system will sometimes expose it as a medium brightness brown suit.

Now that you know the TTL system automatically tries to figure out the exposure, you need to understand how it figures it out. Most TTL systems do this by sending out a preflash before the camera’s shutter opens. This preflash bounces off the subject (Uncle Fred) and then back to the camera’s metering system. The camera’s exposure system measures the brightness of the reflected light before the shutter opens and then uses that to quickly recalculate how much flash it needs for the real photograph. At this point, the shutter opens and the camera fires the real flash. If everything went well, then your TTL system gives you a properly exposed photograph. More precisely, it gives you a medium brightness photograph.

It is the preflash that throws a wrench in the hand-held light meter’s decision process. Let’s say that you want to use the hand-held light meter to perform some flash measurements. In TTL mode, the camera sends out the pre-flash and then the real flash. In other words, it sends out at least two flash pulses. The handheld light meter doesn’t have any way to determine which of those flashes it was supposed to measure. So, it just adds all the flash pulses together. All the light that the flash meter “saw” was added to its calculation. In camera’s final picture though, only the secondary pulse of light from the flash was added to the picture.

Also, since your camera is working in TTL mode, every shot that it takes it is trying to modify the flash output to give you a medium brightness photograph. In other words, the flash output changes from shot to shot depending on your composition. Even small changes in the scene can result in changes in flash output. Let’s say that you are taking a photograph of Michael Jackson for his new Christmas music album. On the first shot, Michael’s hand with the white glove is showing but in the second shot, all you see is his black dance outfit (no glove). Since the photograph with Jacko’s hand reflects more light than the photo without his hand, then the flash output will be less on the “hand” shot and more on just the dance outfit shot.

You can see how taking a light meter reading on one photo and then hoping that is the correct meter reading on another photo is just not plausible. If you were able to take the TTL meter reading and then set your camera to the aperture and shutter speed that the meter tells you to, and then Michael Jackson pulls his hand out of his pocket, you’ve got problems because the camera recalculates a new baseline for medium brightness.

Long story short: you can’t use your handheld flash meter when your flashes are in TTL mode. The only way it really makes sense to use your meter is when you are in Manual flash mode. In this setting, your flash only puts out one pulse of light and the flash meter will then give you the appropriate shutter speed and aperture. (There are some other applications for using the flash meter when your flash is set for Auto Flash or Auto Aperture mode, but we won’t go into that here.)

In Manual flash mode, the flash output is always constant, so you aren’t chasing a moving target. The assumption is that your flash is fixed in a single spot and your subject is the same distance away from the flash for every photograph. In this situation, when you take your meter reading from the handheld light meter, you can set your shutter speed and aperture and be done with it. This is very accurate and probably the best way to meter a scene, but doesn’t allow any movement. TTL allows for quick, automatic exposures, but they aren’t the most accurate.

One more discussion point for flash meters. Those of you who use the new Nikon wireless flash system might know that you can set your wireless flashes to operate in “Manual” mode. What this means is that your Commander flash is telling your Remote flash to always put out a fixed amount of power. For example, if your Commander flash told your SB-800 Remote flash to fire at 1/64th power, then the Remote flash would fire at 1/64th power. Simple right? So, since we can set up a Nikon wireless flash in manual mode, then it should follow that we can now use the handheld flash meter to judge the exposure. Right?

Wrong!

The Nikon wireless flash system uses pulses of light to communicate between flash units. It operates kind of like a Morse code system and each flash in the system sends signals back and forth between the Commander and Remote flashes. If you look at the picture to the left, you will see the firing sequence of the Commander flash as it “speaks” to the Remote flashes. If you were using a Remote flash in manual mode, then it still sends out the Morse code communication to hand shake with it and get it to fire. You can see that a handheld light meter again wouldn’t be able to figure out which pulse of light to measure and would end up just adding up every pulse of light to give you a shutter speed and aperture.

Again, a hand-held flash meter is only operable if your flashes are in the most basic Manual mode. Not wireless manual or TTL mode. Manual. Manual. Manual!

For more information on using your Nikon flash, I encourage you to take a look at our Nikon flash book here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html


Workshop Updates:

We have finalized our 2007 Out There Images, Inc. workshop schedule and are looking forward to another year of great photography and even greater workshops!

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
These are some of our most popular workshops and we’ve set up a few of them for 2007. If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We are going to be offering topics such as D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX and Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the www.nikonians.org. We’ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Boston, New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Throughout the year we’ll also be adding more topics and cities as we add qualified instructors. Our dates are posted here: www.greaterphoto.com.

D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ll be offering these in the Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I’ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Our first D200 workshops in the NW are scheduled for January 2007. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
The next Digital Workflow Workshops is scheduled for February 16th, 2007. This workshop covers topics that every digital photographer struggles with: questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have right now are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/26/07 ~ 4/29/07. North Cascades NP and Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
We love photography and are happy to share our passion with you. If you ever have questions or need any assistance, please feel free to contact us at any time! We are always happy to help.

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

October Answers:

I made the background nice and smooth by photographing these flowers about 5 feet away from green grass.
D80, 28-75mm f2.8, handheld.



Blue sky makes for a great uncluttered background in this photo of the Statue of Liberty taken last month.
D200, 70-200 f2.8, handheld.



We have a family of raccoons in our backyard who like to frequent the garbage can area! A photo taken like this is very cluttered and fairly ugly.
D200, 70-200 f2.8 VR, handheld.


By waiting a while for the raccoon to move to an uncluttered area and by using a teleconverter on the lens, I was able to make the photo look much better. D200, 70-200 f2.8 VR, 2.0 TC, handheld.


The leaves of the maple tree were in the shadow and I thought this might be a good silhouette shot. However, the background is very bright and cluttered which ruins the shot.
D2X, 24-120mm, f2.8 VR, Gitzo 1327 tripod.



I moved my position a little bit and used a longer lens to silhouette the leaves against a smoother background and remove the clutter. This results in a nicer photograph.
D2x, 70-200mm f2.8, Gitzo 1327 tripod.


Your November assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to find at least three ways to saturate the colors of your photograph when you take the picture in the camera (i.e. not in post processing). Take a picture of:
- Flower
- Outdoor Landscape
- Person

I'll post "answers" in next month's column.




Photoshop Shadow/Highlight Tutorial (see text)

Menu for Shadow/Highlight Tool.

Here's how to access the tool from the Photoshop menu.



This is the dialog window for the tool. Be sure to check the "Show More Options" box.


This photo of Crescent Lake in Olympic Mountains NP was taken right at sunrise. Notice how the rocks in the foreground are very dark while the sky is extremely bright. The left photo is the shot as I took it. The right photo is after using Shadows/Highlights tool to brighten up the rocks in the foreground.
D2x, 12-24mm, Gitzo 1327 tripod, 2 stop Graduated ND filter.



For many years I've wanted to get a shot of New York's Grand Central Station. Last month, I was finally able to get a shot with light streaming through the windows at sunrise. The shot on the left is "as shot" and the shot on the right is after using Shadows/Highlight tool. Notice the difference in the detail you can see on the ceiling and the flag.
D200, 12-24mm, handheld (braced on a handrail).



The Smithsonian Air and Space museum is a great place to take photos. However, many times the lighting conditions are not ideal. In this photo of the Bell X1, the overhead lighting is from incandescent lightbulbs but there isn't much light down below. I photographed the scene so I wouldn't blow out the highlights (top photo) and then used the Shadow/Highlight tool in Photoshop to brighten the shadows (bottom photo).
D200, 70-200 f2.8, handheld (braced on a handrail).


November 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - November 2006

Hello friends -

I hope you’ve been able to get outside to photograph all the beautiful fall colors this season. The holidays are also right around the corner and it is time to focus our attention on family, friends and festivities. I’m very much looking forward to spending time with cousins, nieces and nephews this Thanksgiving and I also know that Christmas is coming faster than I want it to!

Our most recent workshops on the east coast were a big success. We taught in the New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC areas and had a great time. It is always fun to meet so many new people and photograph in new locations. I can’t wait to get back for next year. Additionally, I just returned from Chicago for our last Nikonians.org workshop of the year. All of the Chicago workshops were completely sold out!

Our new 2007 schedule is very close to being completed. We are still coordinating with a number of organizations and cities to bring you many new topics and locations. We have a few dates set right now for Out There Images workshops, and here they are:

- D200 Seattle, WA, Jan 12th, Jan 13th , Jul 13th, July 14th
- D200 Portland, OR, Jan 19th, Jan 20th
- D80/D70 Seattle, WA, Feb 17th, Apr 19th
- D80/D70 Portland, OR, May 11th
- Nikon iTTL Flash, Seattle WA, Jan 11th, Apr 20th
- Nikon iTTL Flash, Portland, OR, Jan 18th, May 12th
- Art of Travel, Mazama, WA Sep 20th - 23rd
- Art of Travel, Columbia River Gorge, Apr 26th - 29th
- Digital Workflow, Seattle, Feb 16th.

I’ll be updating our website with the new dates over the next few days.

We’re going to be adding a large number of cities with the Nikonians.org and those are still being ironed out. These workshops will include topics such as Nikon D200, Nikon D2X, Nikon D80, Capture NX software, Wireless Flash (iTTL system), travel photography, and other topics. I’ll send a second workshop update email later this month to announce the new workshop dates and locations with the Nikonians.



GOAL Assignment:
October 2006 GOAL Solutions:

Last month’s GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment was to find at least three ways to make your background clean and uncluttered while keeping your subject in clear, sharp focus.

Here are six solutions to the problem:
1. Photograph your subject in front of a large blank area such as grass or a wall. Make sure your subject is at least 5 feet away from the background so that it becomes out of focus.
2. Use a narrower depth of field such as f2.8 or f1.8 to blow background out of focus.
3. If photographing people for portrait work, position them at least six feet away from background so any wrinkles on the sheet or muslin will be out of focus.
4. Carry along a black piece of felt that you can place behind your flower or subject to eliminate the background.
5. Walk to a different position to eliminate bright and cluttered background elements. I typically will wait to set up my tripod until I have found the best spot for a clean background. Once I’ve done this, then I set up the tripod.
6. Make the background contrast significantly with the subject. For example, make the background all black if your subject is light colored. Or, if your subject is blue, then make the background yellow or orange.

November GOAL Assignment:
One of the frequent questions I receive at workshops is how to achieve saturated colors in your images. Many people mention that their camera’s images don’t just pop right from the camera. So, this month’s assignment is to set up your camera for saturated colors. Take a picture of the following subjects and try to make the colors pop:
- Flower
- Outdoor Landscape
- Person

Here are some things to consider when doing this:
1. Camera setups (i.e. optimize image settings, exposure)
2. Lighting and environment
3. Atmospheric conditions
4. Proximity to subject (i.e. how close you are)

Now, go take some pictures and get out and learn!



Digital Tidbits: A Detailed Look at the Shadows and Highlights tool in Photoshop

As photographers, one of the common problems we come across is lack of detail in our shadows. One of the reasons for this is that our digital cameras have a fairly narrow exposure latitude of about 4.5 ~ 5.5 stops. What that really means is that your camera has a hard time maintaining detail in the highlights while also maintaining detail in the shadows. If you expose for your highlights (in other words, don’t blow them out), then you frequently have blocked up or dark shadows.

I’m always a proponent of getting the photos correct in the camera, so when I’m photographing on location, I work hard to fill in the shadows with fill flash or with a reflector. However, there are many times when that just isn’t appropriate or possible, so we are left with fixing it later in Photoshop.

One of my favorite tools to do this in Photoshop is the Shadows/Highlights tools. To access this tool in Photoshop CS or CS2, follow this path from the menus: Image --> Adjustments --> Shadow/Highlights. Photoshop Elements also has this function under Enhance --> Lighting --> Shadow/Highlights. If you are using CS or CS2, then you’ll need to click on the “Show More Options” box to access the entire tool set.

The purpose of the Shadow/Highlight tool is to allow you to selectively brighten the shadow detail or darken the blown highlight detail. Most of the time, we suffer from blocked up (dark) shadows and we need to pull out some more detail there. There are a number of controls on this tool, so let’s explore each one.

The first control is the Shadows Amount. You use this to brighten up just the shadow information by moving the slider to the right. The Photoshop default is 50% and I find that value to be a pretty good starting point. Sometimes I choose to go a little bit higher and sometimes a little bit lower. You’ll adjust it until it looks good to your eye. Be careful that you don’t move the slider too far and start creating an inordinate amount of noise. It is common for people to try to really brighten up those shadows, but you don’t get something for nothing! The more you brighten it, the more likely you are to get noise.

The second control is Shadows Tonal Width. This adjusts the brightness range of shadows that you’ll be affecting with the Amount slider. What? Ok, in English - if you use a very small tonal width like 10%, then you are only going to brighten the very darkest parts of the image. On the other hand, if you set your tonal width to 75%, then you’ll brighten the shadows as well as the midtones. A tonal width of 100% will adjust brightness even into some of the highlights.

The third control is Shadows Radius. This is a difficult adjustment to grasp since it isn’t really adjusting brightness at all. Rather, it affects how large of an area around a transition between shadow and highlight you can adjust. For example, in the photograph of Grand Central Station, there are areas where there is a stark transition between the deep shadows of the people and the bright sunlight on the floor. The radius function allows you to vary how much Photoshop brightens the area around this dark/light transition. If you want, you can create a halo around this transition or prevent a halo around this transition depending on your radius. There is no best answer for every photo, so I encourage you to adjust it until you are happy with the results. The Photoshop default of 30px seems to do a good job most of the time. However, sometimes I get pretty cool results by cranking the radius all the way to the right.

Now for the Highlights area of the tool. All the adjustments under the Highlights are the same as for the Shadows, with one important difference. The Amount slider doesn’t brighten the highlights, but rather it darkens the highlights. Use this tool when you’ve blown some of the highlight detail and want to try to regain it. In the Bell X1 airplane photo to the left, I set the Highlights Amount slider to 100% to try to regain some of the lost detail on the top of the plane from the overhead lighting. Tonal width and radius work exactly the same as above.

Finally, we have the Adjustments section to contend with. These can be very important to the resulting image, so let’s learn about them. The Color Correction slider is to add saturation back into the image. Most of the time when we brighten a photo, we also lose some of the nice color saturation. So, Photoshop has kindly given us the ability to re-saturate the image. The default of +20 seems pretty good most of the time, however, feel free to bump it up to +30 or even +40 if your image needs some more color.

Midtone contrast allows you to take the portions of the picture that are middle brightness (reds, greens, faces, plants, etc.) and increase their contrast without really changing the contrast of the highlights or shadows. Hmm. I don’t mess with this slider very much. If I want to change the contrast of the image, I’ll use curves to do that, so I leave this slider at default.

The last two adjustments are used to tell Photoshop what percentage of the highlights and shadows you want to clip (or lose) when you use this tool. Typically, I like to clip just a little bit of both the highlights and the shadows so that we have good contrast with true whites and true blacks. If you clip too much, then clouds lose all their detail and shadows block up too dark. So, I recommend leaving these set at 0.01%. If you want to clip these even more, do so by using the Levels tool which gives you much more control.

Look at the example photographs on the left to see how I used the Shadow/Highlight tool to improve these photographs.


Workshop Updates:

As mentioned above, we are very close to finalizing our 2007 workshop schedule. We have two remaining workshops in 2006, which are the Digital Portrait Photography workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR (see below for more details).

If a workshop isn’t listed below, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be scheduled, it just means that we’re still planning final dates and logistics.

Portrait Photography Workshops
Our most recent Portrait Photography workshop in Seattle was last month and we had a ball. If you are interested in learning how to take great portraits, this two-day workshop is for you. We’ll spend a lot of time covering lighting setup, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. This is a great hands-on workshop with lots of time dedicated to taking photos. Our final Portrait workshops for 2006 are scheduled for 11/10 - 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 - 11/18 in Seattle and we still have a couple seats available in each class. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

D80 Workshops The replacement camera for the D70 is a fantastic system. I’ve purchased a D80 for my own use and will be leading new workshops in 2007 on this great camera. Check here for more information and future dates: www.outthereimages.com/D80_Workshop.html.

Nikonians Workshops
Nikonians Workshops We are going to be offering topics such as D80/D70, D200, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon iTTL wireless flash, and D2X through the Nikonians.org. We’ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Boston, New York, Washington DC, San Diego and Chicago. We’ll be adding more topics and cities as the year progresses. I expect to have all these dates and topics ready to go within the next couple weeks.

Digital Workflow
We’re scheduling more Digital Workflow Workshops for 2007. This workshop covers topics that every digital photographer struggles with: questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details:
www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html


D80 and D70 Workshops
We’ll be combining our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We’ll be offering these in the Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we’ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? The Art of Travel Workshop in September 2006 was some of the most fun I’ve had in photography. Our premier Art of Travel workshops will be expanded for 2007 and will include new locations in the USA. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. At these workshops, we divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll have many more D200 workshops scheduled for 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions or need assistance with your photography. We work hard to get back to you as soon as possible and provide the very best information possible.

Take some great photos of your family this month and Get Out And Learn!

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
360-750-1103





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GOAL Assignment (see text)

September Answers:
The first image was underexposed by the matrix meter. A better approach would be to use the spot meter on the subject's face like the second photo. Additionally, you could use the AE-L button to lock the exposure when using an auto metering mode like Aperture Priority.


Another approach is to just use "plus" exposure compensation. This image was taken with +0.3 to compensate for the bright background.


There's another way ... use fill-flash. This image was taken at the beach with bright clouds in the background. I used the D200 and Sb-800 flash for this photo.


The most accurate way to meter for backlit scenes is to use a hand-held light meter like the Sekonic L-358. It is accurate, but not really fast!


Your October assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to find at least three ways to make your background clean while keeping your subject in clear, sharp focus. I'll post "answers" in next month's column.




Gear Reviews (see text)

Nikon D80 Digital SLR.


Sunstar photographed with D80.
I used the spot meter aimed at the water to hold detail in the shadows. Lens was 12-24mm f4. Tripod was Gitzo 1327 with Markins M20 head.


Sunrise above Rainy Lake.
Nikon D80 and 70-200mm f2.8 VR. Gitzo 1327 and Markins M20 ballhead.


Wagon Wheel in Winthrop, WA.
Nikon D80 and 70-200mm f2.8 VR. Handheld.


Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR


Nikon 50mm f1.8


Tamron 28-75 f2.8


Think Tank Photo's Airport Security


Loaded with my stuff


Think Tank Photo's Speed Racer


Using the speed racer at a soccer game.
Photo by Stephanie Hagen.


October 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - October 2006

Hello friends -

I’m leaving tomorrow for a three week workshop series in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org). It’s going to be fun seeing the other side of the country for a while and I’ll be sure to take lots of photographs while I’m there. Looking ahead to November, we have one more workshop with the Nikonians in Chicago, and then two remaining portrait photography workshops in Seattle and Portland (www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html).

Last month we held our Art of Travel Photography workshop in Mazama, Washington and had a fantastic time photographing in Washington State’s North Cascades. Ten people spent four days with me in one of the most beautiful locations on planet earth. Many times we woke up at dawn and photographed well past sunset. Some folks even stayed up all night long to shoot star trail photos. The energy and enthusiasm at this workshop was contagious and I can’t wait to do more like these in 2007.

This newsletter is going to be dedicated to some new gear reviews. I went on a spending spree last month and purchased a bunch of new lenses and a Nikon D80 camera from Samy’s Camera (www.samys.com). I also have purchased two new camera bags from Think Tank Photo (www.thinktankphoto.com) that I think you’ll be interested in. I’ll review them below after the GOAL solutions and new GOAL assignments.

GOAL Assignment:
September 2006 GOAL Solutions: Last month, your assignment was to find three different methods to expose for a subject that is in front of a dark background. The photo I used as an example was taken in front of a bright window. In this scenario, it was a person, but the technique is the same if you are photographing a flower, a vase or even a landscape.

Here are a number of solutions to the problem:
1. Spot meter on the subject in Manual exposure mode. Set your light meter to spot. Set your exposure mode to Manual. Now, aim your camera’s light meter at your subject and take a meter reading. Dial your exposure so that it is properly adjusted for your subject (i.e., their face). If you are photographing a Caucasian (lighter tonality) face, then set exposure to +0.7. If photographing Latino, Persian or Indian (medium tonality) face, then set exposure to 0.0. If photographing African American (darker tonality) face, then set exposure to -0.7.

2. Using the AE-L button. In an auto exposure mode like Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program you have to lock the exposure on your subject. To do this, decide the proper tonality of your subject (see above) and dial that into your exposure compensation control. Next, fill the camera’s light meter with your subject’s face and press the AE-L button with your thumb. Keep holding the button with your thumb and then step back to your shooting position. Now take the picture. If you are using the spot light meter, then it is easy to fill the light meter with your subject. If you are using center weighted light meter or matrix meter, then you need to zoom your lens or physically walk closer to your subject to properly meter.

3. Just overexpose using Matrix Meter. In the example to the left of the raccoon, I didn’t have a lot of time to specifically meter in the raccoon’s face. Since I was using matrix meter, I dialed in plus exposure compensation to prevent the background from biasing the exposure too dark.

4. Use fill-flash. This method allows you to balance the subject and background by using flash. Set the camera for Slow Rear sync and Matrix (multi-pattern) meter. Set the flash for TTL and then dial down the flash output power to -1.0 or so. The camera generally will do a good job of automatically balancing the subject and the background. The photo at the left shows how fill-flash worked very well for a photo at the beach with the bright background of the sky.

5. Use a hand-held light meter such as the Sekonic L-358. In this situation, you hold the light meter in front of the subject and aim the dome of the light meter towards the camera. You then take a meter reading and set your camera to that exposure value in Manual mode (i.e. f4 at 1/30s). This is the most accurate way to set your exposure, but not necessarily the fastest!

6. Fix it later in software. Most of you know that I work extremely hard to get the photograph perfect in the camera, but sometimes you miss the shot and have to fix it later on your computer. I’ve been using Nikon Capture NX (www.capturenx.com) lately for a lot of my post-processing fixes and have been really impressed with its easy interface. To fix an underexposed face, just click on the face with a “Control Point” and brighten it up. It’s that easy!

October 2006 GOAL Assignment:
This month we are going to work on our backgrounds. As you know, the background of your image is sometimes more important than the subject itself. For example, if you take a photograph of a flower against a cluttered background, then it will be difficult to visually distinguish between the two. Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn!) assignment is to find at least three ways to make your background clean while keeping your subject in clear, sharp focus like the flower photograph to the left. There are lots of ways to do this, so get going! I’ll post answers in November’s newsletter.

New Gear Reviews:

I’m a big advocate of using what you have until you find an actual need for new gear. Lots of photographers get into the trap of thinking “If I only had that lens, then my photos would be better” or “that newest camera body will make my photos better.” The unfortunate truth is that the single most important thing to invest in is your knowledge. Once you reach a certain aptitude, then the gear starts to make a bigger difference.

Even though I subscribe to this train of thought and continually push myself to learn new methods and techniques, I still like to mess around with new gear just as much as the next photographer! With that in mind, I purchased a bunch of new gear in September and have spent some time putting it through its paces. Here are some thoughts on the new Nikon D80 SLR, the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR, The Nikon 50mm f1.8, the Tamron 28-75 f2.8, the Think Tank Airport Security and the Think Tank Speed Racer .

Nikon D80
My first Nikon digital SLR was the D70 and since then I’ve purchased the D2X and the D200. The D80 started shipping in September of 2006 and I purchased mine the first week it was available from Samys Camera in Los Angeles (www.samys.com).

The D80 is physically smaller than the D70 yet packs a powerful imaging system into that small package. In fact, it has the same image sensor as my D200, so the resulting quality is fantastic. I took the D80 into Washington State’s North Cascades to see how the camera would respond in the real world. In short, I was very impressed with how easy it was to use and configure for my style of shooting.

One of the gripes I always had with the D70 was that you had to go into the menu system (CSM 02) to change the autofocus from single servo to continuous servo. My D2X and D200 have a switch on the outside of the body that allow me two toggle between the two modes. The D80 solves this problem by placing a button on the top of the camera that allows me to go between AF-S, AF-C and AF-Auto. I haven’t used the AF-Auto function yet (it is supposed to automatically determine if your subject is moving), but am very pleased with the ability to quickly switch between AF-S and AF-C. This places the D80 into the realm of semi-professional use as far as I’m concerned.

The battery of the D80 is the same as I use in the D200, so that means I don’t have to carry another battery charger around in my camera bag. Battery Life in the D80 is better than the D200, but not as good as the D70 or D2X. I find that when shooting with the D200 I have to change batteries about once every 4 hours. With the D80, I went almost an entire day on one battery. Pretty good, but still not as good as the D70 or D2X. With both of those cameras, I can shoot 1 1/2 to two days on one battery.

If you are looking at buying a D80, be sure to know that it uses SD memory cards rather than CF cards. Some folks think that’s a demerit for the D80, however I disagree. I purchased some 1 GB SD cards for a very low price and they are so small that they fit just about anywhere in my camera bag. Now that I’ve been using the SD cards for about a month, I find that I like them a lot! I actually hope that more cameras start using this smaller format. It makes for a smaller camera body and you don’t have to dedicate as much space in your camera bag for CF cards.

The D80 has all the same metering and exposure modes that the D70 and D200 have, with the exception of the matrix meter. Nikon has installed the 420 element matrix meter rather than the 1005 element matrix meter found in the D70, D200 and D2X. I don’t think it is a big deal and enjoyed great results with the D80’s metering system last week. The great thing about the D80 is that it uses the 2nd generation matrix meter (matrix meter II) and does a superb job judging exposure.

The viewfinder on the D80 is large and bright compared to the D70. Any of us who are getting older (that’s all of us, right?) know how valuable it is to be able to accurately focus and compose our photos. The D80 makes this so much easier with the larger viewfinder. Thank you Nikon!

The playback screen is nice and large with good color and fidelity. One of the new features I like is the zooming function. To zoom in on the picture with other Nikon bodies, you have to push one button and rotate the command dial in order to zoom. Now with the D80, all you have to do is press the “Plus Zoom” button to go in closer or the “Minus Zoom” button to zoom out. It is intuitive and easy.

One of the neater things about the D80 is that it has a programmable Function button like the D200. Specifically, you can program this button to do one of many things such as activate your spot meter, turn off your flash, change your autofocus mode or display your ISO inside the viewfinder. Right now, I have mine programmed so it changes my meter to spot meter mode when pressed.

Finally, the only major flaw I see on the D80 is that I can’t immediately change aperture or shutter speed on the camera after taking a photo. The reason for this is that the command dials allow you to quickly jump through the different playback screens (histogram, highlights, etc) and photographs by rotating them left and right while the picture is being shown on the camera. There are two ways around this. First, you can just press your shutter release button to clear the playback screen. Second, you can turn off the playback function all together in CSM 06. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is frustrating since all my other Nikon digital cameras allowed me to do this.

All-in-all, I am very impressed with the D80 and have already recommended it to lots of people. In fact, the D80 that I just purchased is going to be used by my wife in her photography. She finds that the smaller body size fits perfect with her hands. I’ll be stealing it from her when I need a super-light-weight camera that packs a punch!

Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR
Oh man, what a nice lens this is. I’ve owned the 80-200 f2.8 lens for a number of years and have always been impressed with it. However, even with the f2.8 speed, I was always finding situations where I needed to operate without a tripod and hand-hold the shot. So, succumbed to the pressure and purchased the new 70-200 f2.8 VR.

VR stands for Vibration Reduction and allows you to hand hold the photograph at a shutter speed much lower than you normally would be able to. For example, in the past, if I was handholding my lens at 200mm, I’d need to make sure my shutter speed was at least 1/250sec or faster to ensure a sharp picture. Since purchasing this new lens, I’m routinely taking shots down to 1/60sec (sometimes slower) and getting good results.

This lens also works very well with the Nikon Teleconverters. I have the TC1.4E and the TC2.0E. The 1.4x makes this lens behave like a 100 - 300mm f4 and the 2.0x makes it behave like a 140 -400mm f5.6. Of course, you still get the VR capability and the fast focus of the AF-S (silent wave motor). I photographed some snowy plovers flying around on the Oregon Coast last month and the lens focused very well when they were in flight.

This lens is awesome.

Nikon 50mm f1.8
For the price, this has to be the best lens deal on the planet. I paid somewhere around $110 and haven’t regretted it since. There are many times in photography when you need an extremely narrow depth of field or you need photograph in very dim ambient light. This lens does both of those very well due to its f1.8 aperture.

In the few weeks I’ve owned it, I’ve taken some great portraits as well as some nice street photos. It is incredibly small, and when placed on the Nikon D80, it makes for a camera that feels like a point-and-shoot after lugging around a D2X all day!

The optical quality is superb and the autofocus is fast. The only thing that might get in the way of consistent results is that the front of the lens barrel rotates when you are focusing. That’s nothing new, but since the lens is so short, it is sometimes difficult to hold the camera with your left hand and not impede the auto-focusing system.

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8
I like to travel as light as possible but I also like f2.8 lenses. For me, I’ve always tended to opt for the lighter weight lens over the f2.8 lens just so I don’t have to pack as much weight around. For many years, I’ve been using the Nikon 24-120mm lens as my main travel lens, but I’ve missed quite a few shots because it wasn’t f2.8.

Nikon has some superb f2.8 lenses in the 17-55 and 28-70 range too, however they are very large. For example, the Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 weighs two pounds!

I’ve always wished someone would find a way to make lighter f2.8 lenses. Now with the APS sized CCDs used in Nikon’s cameras, lenses don’t have to have as much glass in them to cover the image plane. Tamron recently has created a new 28-75mm f2.8 lens that weighs just 1 1/4 pounds and uses a smaller 67mm front filter. I tried the lens out at the store, and then bought it to see how it works in the real world.

So far I’ve been impressed with its optical performance and its fast focusing speed. It is a great lens for traveling and the f2.8 speed is excellent. I’ve replaced my older 24-120 with this new 28-75 and have made some great low-light shots that I normally would pass by.

However, from a build quality perspective, Tamron has some homework to do. The lens feels cheap and the lens shade is difficult to take on and off. But, for the price ($380) and weight, I’ll put up with some of the inconveniences as long as it continues producing excellent quality results.

Think Tank Airport Security Camera Bag
I travel a lot and have been looking for a camera case on wheels for quite some time. I’ve also been using Think Tank Photo’s products for a while now and have been extremely impressed with their quality. So, I decided to spring for their Airport Security camera bag.

After working with it for a while, calling it a camera bag seems trite. Really, it should be labeled a “gear transport system.” The design that went into the bag is phenomenal and I’m still discovering its secrets. Think Tank creates their products with the knowledge that everyone has different needs and therefore offers infinite ways to configure the gear compartment. It was delivered with around 30 divider panels that can be swapped in and out and rearranged to your heart’s content. I spent about twenty minutes setting up the pack to fit four camera bodies, a bunch of lenses, batteries, filters, three flashes, chargers and storage devices and I still have space available inside! I guess I need to go buy more gear.

So far, I’ve been impressed with the strength of materials, the excellent zippers and the fit/finish. The best part about the Airport Security is that it doesn’t look like a camera bag! You can’t distinguish between the camera bag and my regular luggage. It all looks the same.

Some of the things I like about this bag are:
- Lockable zippers and an integrated steel cable to allow locking to immovable objects.
- Cavernous interior, yet the bag still fits in the airplane carryon compartments.
- Retractable handle for pulling the case.
- Large rolling wheels.
- The interior of the bag can be totally removed so I can use the case for other purposes.
- Exterior tripod storage.
- Handles on all sides to allow for easy manipulation of bag when stowing it.
- Waterproof nylon cover to protect contents when it’s raining!

Think Tank Speed Racer
For the last decade, my Lowe Pro Orion AW has been a staple for me on my travels. It has done an excellent job of holding a camera body, three lenses and a flash. Now that my 70-200 has come into the picture, it is longer than my older 80-200 f2.8 and doesn’t fit in my Orion AW.

So, off to Think Tank Photo I go! The Speed Racer is designed to hold the 70-200, along with a camera body, two other lenses and a flash. I used this setup last weekend when photographing my son’s soccer match and was impressed with the fit of the bag and how quickly I could access my gear. A lot of times when you are photographing on the sidelines of a game, you need to get up and quickly move to another spot. Since I like to move around, I keep the bag attached to my body most of the time. In this situation, it is important that the bag is comfortable. The Speed Racer has a large waist belt and fits superbly. It didn’t sag low and it moved well as I traveled up and down the field.

The Speed Racer also has the ability to accept all the modular cases from Think Tank’s lineup. Since my Pro Modulus bags work with the Speed Racer, that means is I can add extra capacity just by attaching additional cases to the belt. It is a very nice design.

By the way, if you want to buy any Think Tank products, enter this code on their order page: WS-015 and you can get a freebie modular case if you buy something worth $50 or more. You can buy their stuff at www.thinktankphoto.com or you can also find it in most higher-end camera stores.


Workshop Updates:

Portrait Photography Workshops
Our most recent Portrait Photography workshop was last month and we had a ball. If you are interested in learning how to take great portraits, this two-day workshop is for you. We’ll spend a lot of time covering lighting setup, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. This is a great hands-on workshop with lots of time dedicated to taking photos. Our last Portrait workshops for 2006 are scheduled for 11/10 - 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 - 11/18 in Seattle. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

D80 Workshops The replacement camera for the D70 is a fantastic system. I’ve purchased a D80 for my own use and will be leading new workshops in 2007 on this great camera. Check here for more information and future dates: www.outthereimages.com/D80_Workshop.html.

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. We just finished up the Seattle and Vancouver, BC workshops in July and are looking forward to the Autumn workshops in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture NX
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:

Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Photoshop Workshops
2007 will bring a whole new series of Photoshop instruction. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Digital Workflow
The last Digital Workflow workshop for 2006 was September 14th in Seattle, WA. We’re scheduling more for 2007. This workshop covers topics that every digital photographer struggles with: questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
We have D70 workshops still scheduled for New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago in the months of October and November. After that, we’re done until 2007 for these workshops. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? The Art of Travel Workshop in September 2006 was some of the most fun I’ve had in photography. Our premier Art of Travel workshops will be expanded for 2007 and will include new locations in the USA. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. At these workshops, we divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll have many more D200 workshops scheduled for 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Keep getting out there and taking photos my friends. The best place to learn about photography is in the field, so I encourage you to Get Out And Learn!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


GOAL Assignment (see text)

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to find three ways to properly photograph and expose for a subject like this. I'll post "answers" in next month's column.




New Product Highlights (see text)

Light Box from Harbor Digital Design.
10% Discount Code = OTImages

Part of the Pro-Pack with bounce card attached.


Small Diffusion Dome


Nikon D80


Eddie Tapp's Photoshop Workflow Setups book




Digital Tidbits Article Images (see text)

Photo after working in Capture NX
Here, I added two control points. One to adjust the blue sky, the other to adjust the clouds above the ridge.


Photo before Capture NX
Nikon D2X, 12-24mm, North Cascades National Park


Capture NX Screen Shot
Here's the user interface for Capture NX. You can see one of the control points I was working on in the lower left blue sky.


Harley Davidson photo before and after Capture NX
The left image is after I worked on it in Capture NX and the right photo is before. I was pretty happy with this photo right out of the camera, but I thought it would benefit by slightly brightening up the motorcycle. Nikon D2X, 12-24mm, Winthrop, WA


Capture NX Screen Shot
Here you can see the size of the control point that I used and also can see that I adjusted the "B" slider a little bit brighter. B stands for brightness in this case.


September 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - September 2006

Hello everyone! Welcome to another edition of the Out There Images, Inc. Newsletter. September is here and we are getting ready to send the kids back to school and preparing for all the beautiful Fall photography. I enjoy shooting the Fall colors and always look for interesting compositions of color and shape. As always, I’ll be outside photographing as much as possible during this season.

After a beautiful summer, (with some much needed downtime and R&R) we are ramping up for a very busy autumn workshop schedule. We’ll be leading workshops in Seattle, Washington’s North Cascades, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and Portland. Yes, it’s going to be fun and we’ll be putting a few airline miles on those frequent flyer cards! I look forward to seeing many of you in the upcoming workshops.

Our eBook on the Nikon Wireless Flash System (www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html) continues to sell very well and I sincerely thank you for your orders and referrals to others. More often than not, we ship the book on the same day you order, so you hardly have to wait for the package to arrive in the mail.

GOAL Assignment:
A few weeks back I was leading a workshop in Seattle, WA and one of our participants suggested a great new idea for our newsletters. He suggested that since I’m always encouraging people to “Get Out And Learn!” that why don’t I give monthly assignments that engages readers to try their skills in the real world? I thought his suggestion was excellent, so this month I’ll start with a new “assignment”. The way it will work is that I’ll send out a photographic problem/dilemma and then present my solution (and other’s solutions) in the next month’s newsletter.

Since I sincerely feel that practice is the best way to learn, I’ll be crafting new assignments each month. As you know, Out There Images’ tagline is “Get Out And Learn” (GOAL) so I’ll call our monthly photographic adventures “GOAL Assignments”. These assignments will cover photographic technique, flash methods, Photoshop, and other fun topics. Hopefully, you’ll learn something from these exercises, so here goes:

September, 2006 Photographic GOAL Assignment
This month, I’d like you to use three different methods to properly expose a dark foreground subject that is situated in front of a bright background. For example, a person in front of a window, a flower in front of the sunset, a moth in front of a flame, a person in the shade of a tree or an object against a bright cloudy sky. The goal is to expose the subject perfectly.

Those of you who have attended my camera workshops (D200, D70, etc.) already know at least one way to accomplish this (Hint: AE-L button), but there’s more than one way to skin a cat! In these backlit situations, our camera’s metering systems tend to expose for the bright background and make the foreground very dark. So, I want you to come up with three different methods to solve this problem. I have included a sample photo of the “before” situation and will show a number of solutions to the problem next month.

New Product Highlights:

There are three new products that I wanted to bring to your attention:
Light Box System
The first is from a new company called Harbor Digital Design, LLC (www.harbordigitaldesign.com) that manufactures flash diffusion products. I’ve had the opportunity to try out their diffusion boxes myself and I also met with the owner, Michael, a couple weeks ago. I wanted to learn about his design theory and understand exactly how the diffusion dome works.

Harbor Digital Design manufactures a variety of products from a small light diffuser to the complete “Pro Pack”. I tried out the Pro Pack and liked the results very much. It is well-built and should stand up to the rigors of daily use. Additionally, the product is very configurable, complete with a large bounce card, diffusion box, black box, and colored gels. His diffusers fit most flash models such as the Nikon SB-800 and lots of other manufacturer’s flashes too.

Harbor Digital Design is selling the Pro Pack at an introductory price of $99.95 for the month of September ’06. Additionally, he is giving Out There Images, Inc. customers an additional 10% off of any order over $25 if they use this code: OTImages. Enter the code at checkout to receive the discount.

Nikon D80 Camera
The second product I want to cover is the new Nikon D80 digital SLR. Lots of people have been writing to ask my opinions on the camera body, so here goes! I think this camera is going to be an awesome camera and I’ll be buying my own as soon as they are available. In fact, I’ve already put my order in with Samy’s Camera (www.samys.com) and should receive it by the end of September. One of the big reasons I want to buy it is because it has many of the same features as my D200 in a body about the size of the D50. There are lots of times when I want a very small camera, but I still don’t want to compromise image quality.

Other features I will enjoy are the 11 area auto focus, iTTL wireless flash capability, large 2.5” LCD monitor. Additionally, the viewfinder is larger than the D70, so I won’t have to squint as much when framing my photographs! It will have the same battery pack as my D200, so I won’t have to carry around a different charger. It will also have provision for a cable release (MC-DC1) and will also support a wireless remote like the ML-L3!

The D80 will be available later this month and I’ll definitely be offering D80 workshops next year all around North America. Once I receive my D80, I’ll be doing a quick review and will post it on our website.

Photoshop Workflow Setups book
The third product I want to cover is a new book I’ve been reading, titled Photoshop Workflow Setups by Eddie Tapp. As you know, I’m always encouraging you to keep learning and I do the same myself. Even though I teach a variety of Photoshop Workshops here at Out There Images, I’m continually looking for ways to speed up my digital workflow. Eddie Tapp’s new book shows numerous ways to do just that and he has dedicated this book to helping folks organize their Photoshop workspace so it is efficient and quick.

His book is less focused on Photoshop techniques and much more focused on setting up Photoshop so that it works better for your needs. For example, he has an entire chapter just on customizing keyboard shortcuts and menus. Other chapters include setting up pallets, arranging your workspace, and setting important preferences. In each chapter, Eddie outlines the Photoshop default settings and then explains how you might want to change them to increase your performance.

In the Tools chapter, he explains each of the tools and then shows how to change the default preferences so that they better suit your use. As you know, there are a million and one brushes you can select for the painting tools. He explains how the different brush settings affect the tool’s usability. The book is well laid out and easy to understand. It is in full-color and provides ample illustrations to help you follow the text.

Photoshop Workflow Setups is published by O’Reilly and can be purchased from their website (www.oreilly.com) or from other book retailers for $29.99 USD.


Digital Tidbits: Nikon Capture NX Adjustments

This month’s digital tidbits column is dedicated to showing off Nikon’s new Image editing software called Nikon Capture NX. I have been leading workshops over this last year on Nikon’s previous software, Nikon Capture 4.4. The new NX software is a vast improvement over their older software and it is totally changing the way that I edit my images.

Most folks who attend my workshops know that I work very hard to try to get the photograph as close to perfect as possible in the camera. I make money when I’m taking pictures and I lose money when I’m plunked down in front of my computer “fixing” images. If I had my way, I’d never have to process another photo again. My dream may come true some day, but until then, I still have to process quite a few of my images later in the computer. Most of the time, my computer work is limited to a little bit of tone enhancement (curves) and then sharpening for printing.

I, along with most other people, enjoy being creative and Nikon Capture NX allows me to be creative in a fast way. So, what is it about Nikon Capture that has me all excited? It is a new photo editing method called “U Point Technology.” It is simple, yet profound in its approach to working on images.

The concept behind the approach is that you simply click on the region of the photo you want to work on, and then the software gives you a myriad of options for affecting that region. For example, in the example photos I show of the sunset over a mountain ridge, I wasn’t happy with the way my D2X rendered the colors of the scene. I remember being in the moment and thinking about how blue the sky was and how much I liked the colors of the clouds. When I returned to my computer, I was disappointed to find that the colors weren’t as vibrant as I remembered.

So, I fired up Capture NX and used two control points to work on the image. The first control point was on the blue sky on the left. I simply clicked on the sky and then adjusted the size of the area I wanted to work on. You do this with a simple slider bar. Next, I changed the hue so that the sky was a little bit more blue. Finally, I bumped up the saturation a little bit. For the second control point, I clicked on the clouds on the right side of the photo and simply adjusted the saturation to better match my memory of the real scene.

The motorcycle photo was taken in Winthrop, WA and I was struck by the perfect placement of the bike next to an old Dance Hall building. I framed the shot tightly, exposing so that the blue sky was nice and saturated. When I was back at my computer, editing my photos I really liked the image, but thought that it could be improved by lightening the motorcycle a little bit. So, I fired up Capture NX and placed a control point directly on the Harley. I modified the diameter of the circle until I was happy with the size, and then changed the “B” slider to increase brightness a little bit. This helped bring out a little bit of the shadow detail in the bike as well as a subtle amount in the shadows of the building.

Fundamentally, Nikon’s new software is a very powerful RAW (NEF) processing program, but it also works extremely well for JPEGs and TIFFs. I’ve used it on all these file formats with excellent results. If you are a Canon or Sony shooter, then you might even consider Capture NX for use on your JPEGs.

I am finding that Capture NX is totally changing the way I approach my picture processing. In the past, I would head into Photoshop and try to select certain regions of the image to modify. However, even the best selection tools take time to master and implement, and I’d frequently find myself settling for something I didn’t really want. Now with Capture NX, it is as simple as clicking on the region of the photo I want to “fix” and then fixing it. Nothing complicated, just a simple approach. Now, with a click, I get what I want. What could be better?

Nikon Capture NX can be purchased from most camera stores or downloaded from www.capturenx.com. If you already own Capture 4.4, then you can just purchase the upgrade to NX.

Workshop Updates:

Photoshop Workshops
Our next Photoshop workshops will be in Seattle during September 7th - 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Digital Workflow
Our next Digital Workflow workshop is scheduled for September 14th in Seattle, WA. This workshop covers topics that every digital photographer struggles with: questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Portrait Photography Workshops
If you are interested in learning how to take great portraits, this two-day workshop is for you. We’ll spend a lot of time covering lighting arrangements, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. Our Portrait workshops this year are scheduled for 9/15 - 9/16 in Seattle, 11/10 - 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 - 11/18 in Seattle. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
We have D70 workshops still scheduled for New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago in the months of October and November. After that, we’re done until 2007 for these workshops. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? Attend the Art of Travel Workshop this September. Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. We just finished up the Seattle and Vancouver, BC workshops in July and are looking forward to the Autumn workshops in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture NX
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:

Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll have many more D200 workshops scheduled for 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I appreciate your enthusiastic emails and am always encouraged by your excitement for digital photography. Keep shooting and get out every day to photograph. The only way to improve is through regular practice!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


Photo Techniques Images (see text)

Bad Exposure!
This image of the sailboat was taken without changing exposure compensation. The camera's light meter was heavily influenced by the bright white of the boat and the clouds.
Nikon D2x, SB-800 with diffusion dome set for -1.0 EV, 12-24mm lens.


Better Exposure
By adding +0.7 exposure compensation, the camera then exposes the ambient light brighter by two-thirds (0.7) stops.
Nikon D2x with +0.7 exposure compensation, SB-800 with diffusion dome and -1.0 output compensation, 12-24mm lens.


Too bright Exposure
This picture shows how adding too much exposure compensation can make the photograph too bright. Since the image isn't 100% white, adding +1.0 EV is too much and blows out the highlights. A better exposure would have been +0.7.
Nikon D2x with +1.0 exposure compensation, SB-800 with diffusion dome and -1.0 output compensation, 12-24mm lens.


Exposure Compensation Button
This is the exposure compensation button on your camera body. It affects ambient light exposure.


Flash Compensation
The + and - keys on the flash control flash output. In this case, the SB-800 is set for -2/3 (-0.7) stops of output compensation. You can see the value in the upper right corner of the flash.


Other pics from the day
Amazing Grace Tall Ship, D2x, 80-200


New decks for the Narrows Bridge, D2x, 80-200


A nice yacht in Gig Harbor, D2x, 24-120




Digital Tidbits Article (see text)

Moire pattern on a window screen.
You can see the wavy lines throughout the image. The anti-aliasing filter tries to prevent moire, thereby making your digital images look soft.
D70, 80-200mm lens


Airforce C-17 Cargo Planes in front of Mt. Rainier. Here's what the entire image looks like. I printed this image as a 12x18 for a test print and it looked great! It'll easily blow up to a 20"x30" print with no problems.
D2x, 24-120mm lens


Here's a 100% crop from the tail. This shot is unsharpened from the camera and looks a little bit soft. Almost all (unsharpened) images from digital cameras look soft.


This is the same 100% crop as above, but now it has been sharpened in Photoshop using the Unsharp Mask filter. Just about all digital images need to be sharpened, regardless of camera model.


August 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - August 2006

Greetings folks! We are in the throes of summer here and thoroughly enjoying the nice warm days. It is great fun getting out to photograph in the early morning and late evening, chasing that elusive perfect light.

Our new Nikon wireless flash eBook is selling very well and it is fun to hear your stories of how you are using the book to improve your flash photography. Here’s the link to the book: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.

By popular demand, I have created a new D70 setup guide. It is a 4” x 6” card printed on front and back with information such as color mode, auto focus, optimize image settings, etc. Feel free to download it for free and print it out on your home printer. Or, if you want, you can buy a laminated copy for $4.50 (includes shipping to USA and Canada) and we’ll mail it to you right away. Here’s the link for download and/or purchase: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.

We are receiving a lot of emails about our future workshop schedule. Primarily, people are asking for more D200 workshops and more Nikon flash workshops! We are in the process of planning our 2007 dates and should have that schedule out sometime within the next two months.

Photo Techniques: Outdoor Photography with Fill Flash - Use Exposure Compensation for Ambient Light

A few weeks ago we went sailing with a bunch of family in Washington State’s beautiful Puget Sound. We sailed out of Gig Harbor and spent a few hours enjoying the afternoon sun. I wanted to take some new sailing photographs for my files, so I brought along my Nikon D2X and my 80-200 f2.8 in order to be able to photograph other boats on the water.

I was busy photographing other boats when I noticed the kids were poking their head out of a little hatch door on the bow of the boat. I thought it would be a great photograph, so I ran (actually stumbled) over to my camera bag and quickly switched my lens to my 12-24mm. Additionally, I placed my SB-800 flash with the diffusion dome on my camera’s hot-shoe.

In order to get a decent photo of the kids, I knew that I needed some fill flash since the sun was out. If I didn’t use fill flash, I would get some pretty nasty dark shadows on the kids’ faces and eye sockets. Since kids never sit still for very long, I snapped my first photograph before I made any adjustments to the camera’s exposure system. The camera was set for matrix metering and 0.0 exposure compensation. This means that the camera will expose the ambient light in the scene for medium brightness. Since the photo was of a white sailboat and white clouds, I should have anticipated that the scene would be dramatically under exposed, and it was! You can see the results of this picture on the left.

The ambient light was obviously exposed too dark, but what about the flash? I did use fill-flash and it was set for -1.0 EV. This value was programmed into the flash by pressing the “minus” button on the back of my flash until it read -1.0 EV. Setting the flash compensation for -1.0 EV effectively decreases the amount of light from the flash so that it is one stop lower than the ambient light. My standard outdoor fill flash technique is to dial down the power on the flash to somewhere between -0.7 and -1.7. If I had exposed my ambient light properly, then the fill flash would have also been just about perfect.

The reason why this first image is so dark is that even the best camera metering systems in the world get faked out by bright subjects; I should have used my camera’s Exposure Compensation to brighten up the ambient light. After seeing the disappointing result of my first photo (and rolling my eyes), I made a change to my camera’s exposure compensation for the second photograph.

This next photo shows how much of a difference it makes when you use exposure compensation to increase the ambient light exposure a little bit. Since the photograph has quite a bit of white in it, I added exposure (add light to a bright subject). In this case I added +0.7 stops because the scene included some dark water and some white sailboat/clouds. If the image was 100% white, like a snowy field or a white sandy beach, then I would have added about +1.7 stops of exposure compensation.

At the same time, I still don’t want my flash to appear as though it is the predominant light in the scene. So, I kept the SB-800 flash compensation dialed down to -1.0 so the fill flash effect is subtle. The fill flash provided just enough light to brighten the eye sockets and shadows.

So, the basic approach for fill flash in the outdoors is to use your camera’s exposure compensation for the ambient light (background) and your flash’s output compensation for the subjects in the foreground. You can see how important it is to think of your flash photography in terms of two exposures. One exposure for the ambient light (background) and a second exposure from the flash (foreground). If you do this well, you can get great outdoor photos with your flash.

Finally, I want to show you what it looks like when you use a little too much exposure compensation for a photo. The third image was taken with the camera set at +1.0 exposure compensation and the SB-800 flash set at -1.0 output compensation. You can see that the boat deck and the sail are obviously too bright because there isn’t any texture or detail. They have both been blown out (clipped). Since the image consists of white boat and dark water, a better exposure compensation would have been +0.7. That extra 1/3 of a stop makes a huge difference!

The last three images in the series are some of the other photos I took that day. These were the images I had originally set out to get. The tall ship is called the Amazing Grace (http://www.amazinggracetallship.com/) and operates out of Gig Harbor. The orange cargo ship is holding the new bridge decks for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The yacht is moored in Gig Harbor.


Digital Tidbits: Why Do My Digital Images Look Blurry and Soft?

Over the last month I’ve received numerous questions from folks about why their digital images don’t look sharp and crisp. In a few situations, people have wondered if their cameras are broken or if their lens is a factory reject. As people start scrutinizing their images more closely on their computer monitors, they are seeing that their shots look soft when viewed at 100% zoom.

There are two predominant reasons why your digital images look soft. The first is from something called an “anti-aliasing filter” and the second is from your technique. Let’s start with the anti-aliasing filter.

The cold, hard truth about digital photos is that they are always a bit soft because of the way the camera’s sensor is designed. You see, a CCD or CMOS sensor is prone to a problem called moiré. This is a weird wavy pattern that happens when taking a photograph of something that exceeds the resolution of the camera’s sensor. For example, if you take a picture of a typical screen door (like you’d find on your house) from a far distance, you might get a funny wavy pattern in the image. This wavy pattern occurs because the screen pattern is smaller than the CCD pixels when projected onto the CCD. You can see this moiré pattern in the image at the left. It is a crop from an image of a screen door and the patterns are vertical wavy lines.

To try to prevent moiré, most camera manufacturers have added something called an anti-aliasing filter in front of the CCD to reduce the effect. Unfortunately, this filter also makes the image look soft. Really, an anti-aliasing filter just softens the edges of your subject by averaging out the pixels at the edge. You can think of the anti-aliasing filter as a smoothing filter.

Ok, enough mumbo jumbo. What does this mean in real life? It means that we have to add sharpening after we capture the image using software. Even the sharpest, most expensive lens in the world will render your subject a little bit soft on a digital camera. There are lots of ways to sharpen your images after you’ve captured them. My most common method is to use Photoshop, but there are many other options such as Nikon Capture NX, Nik Sharpener Pro 2.0 or even just using your camera’s own sharpening settings in the custom settings menus. I work hard to try and get my images perfect in the camera, but I have resigned myself to the fact that all my photos will have to be sharpened later in Photoshop.

The airplane photograph here demonstrates how an image will look soft initially, but then cleans right up when sharpened in Photoshop. This image was taken at McChord AFB in Washington State. A little bit of sharpening goes a long ways towards making the image usable.

The second reason why your shots look soft has to do with your camera technique. For many people, the higher the resolution their camera is, the softer the image appears to be. For example, if you photograph with a 6 MP (megapixel) camera like a Nikon D70 or Canon Digital Rebel, you may have been happy with the perceived sharpness. However, many people who upgrade to a 10MP or 12MP camera are suddenly noticing that their shots look much softer.

The higher resolution cameras demand much more out of a photographer when it comes to getting sharp images. Since they have many more pixels in the same sensor area, they have a tighter pixel pitch. That just means that the spacing from pixel to pixel is much tighter. For example, a D70 has a pixel spacing of 7.9µm (microns), a D200 has a spacing of 6.1 µm, and a D2X has a pixel spacing of 5.5µm.

Since the pixels are packed so much tighter on a higher resolution camera, there is less forgiveness if you jostle the camera during the shot. What I mean is, a blurry photo is caused when detail on the subject moves between pixels on the CCD. For example, the edge of a tree will look blurry if it moves from pixel to pixel while the shutter is open. Conversely, the tree will look sharp if the edge doesn’t move from pixel to pixel while the shutter is open. If you have big pixel spacing like on the D70 or a Digital Rebel, then the edge of the tree is less likely to move to a different pixel than on a camera that has tighter pixel spacing like a D2X.

Since this is a fact of digital life, the D200 and the D2X require much better technique than a D70. The same thing holds true for any camera (Canon, Pentax, Sony) that has a higher resolution CCD.

How do you combat this “problem?” It all comes down to your camera technique. If you are a sports photographer, then you’ll need to be using faster shutter speeds and higher ISOs. Also, you’ll need to use very solid hand-holding technique. Of course, the very best way to improve sharpness is to plunk your camera down on a nice sturdy tripod to prevent camera shake (I like the Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripods the best). If you like to photograph close-ups and macro shots, then I’d recommend using your camera’s mirror lock-up function to even further prevent camera shake. The goal is to keep that camera still!

Ok, now you know two of the most common reasons for “soft” digital images. The first reason, the anti-alias filter is something you can’t change and therefore we must sharpen our shots later in post-processing. The second reason has 100% to do with you, the photographer. Your technique is critical when it comes to getting tack-sharp images, especially when using higher resolution cameras.



Workshop Updates:

Digital Workflow
Our next Digital Workflow workshop is scheduled for September 14th in Seattle, WA. These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Portrait Photography Workshops
If you are interested in learning how to take great portraits, this two-day workshop is for you. We’ll spend a lot of time covering lighting arrangements, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. Our Portrait workshops this year are scheduled for 9/15 - 9/16 in Seattle, 11/10 - 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 - 11/18 in Seattle. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
Our next Photoshop workshops will be in Seattle during September 7th - 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? Attend the Art of Travel Workshop this September. Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. We just finished up the Seattle and Vancouver, BC workshops and are looking forward to the Autumn workshops in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture NX
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:

Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Nikon D200 Workshops
Our first D200 workshop on June 3rd went very well. Our next workshops are scheduled for August 19th in Seattle and August 26th in Portland. We’ll also have many more scheduled for 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s newsletter. As always, feel free to write if you have questions or need more information about a topic you’ve read about here.

I encourage you to get out, take some photographs and keep learning!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





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Airliner Article Images (see text)

Mt. Rainier, Washington State
Nikon D2X, 24-120 lens, f5.6, 1/1000 sec
Converted to black and white in Photoshop


Houses in Chicago, Illinois
Nikon D2X, 24-120 lens, f4.5, 1/1000 sec
Contrast was increased by using Photoshop Curves


Lake Tapps, Washington State
Nikon D2X, 24-120 lens, f4.5, 1/500 sec
The sun is at my back in this photo which helps prevent window reflections.


Puffy white clouds over Florida
Nikon D2X, 24-120 lens, f3.5, 1/1000 sec
This shot was from about 30,000' and the morning clouds provided a great subject. The wide angle lens helps distort the horizon making this shot almost look like it was taken from space.
Black and white coversion was completed in Photoshop.


Highway Interchange, Tennessee
Nikon D2X, 24-120 lens, f5.6, 1/500 sec
Always be on the lookout for interesting patterns and shapes on the ground. Contrast and saturation were increased a bit in Photoshop because of the atmospheric haze.



Data Storage Article (see text)

Graphic of my current storage system:


July 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - July 2006

Greetings everyone. At long last, the Nikon iTTL Flash eBook is finished and ready for delivery the week of July 10th. We’ll begin taking orders right away and will start shipping once the CDs have been burned, labeled and packaged.

I have ordering information posted here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html. The price is set at $29.99 plus shipping. The eBook will be packaged on a CD-ROM and will only be available via regular mail. We don’t have a file download system set up from our web server, so you’ll have to live with the old-fashioned snail mail method.

June was another great month for workshops and we have a few more in July with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle WA. We are also looking forward to the rest of this summer, especially the Art of Travel Workshop September 21-24 and our two-day Portrait Photography workshop in September 15th-16th.

This month’s newsletter covers two topics: photographing from airliners and storing your digital images. I hope you’ll be able to put these tips to good use!


Photo Techniques: Photographing From Airliners

Over the last few months I’ve done quite a bit of traveling around the country and have enjoyed the view from my airline window seat. I’m always on the lookout for great photos no matter where I’m at, so I’m pretty diligent about keeping my cameras out whenever I travel. I thought I’d take some time to discuss photographing from an airliner.

Taking pics from an airplane is always a lot of fun and I have some great shots in my files taken from Boeing’s finest. Here are some of the things I think about when flying that help maximize my photo potential.

Seat Position: When I’m booking my ticket, I always try to get a window seat that is in front of the main wing. I have a couple of reasons for this. The first is that I have an unobstructed view of the terrain below. Secondly, I don’t have to photograph through the exhaust from the engine like I would if I was behind the wing. You’d be surprised how blurry your photographs come out when photographing through exhaust.

Side of the Airplane: The next thing I try to do when booking my ticket is to figure out what side of the plane I want to sit on. Primarily, I want to be on the side of the plane where the sun won’t be shining. This is so the sun will be “behind” me when I’m taking photos out the window. If I have chosen the sunny side of the plane, then I frequently get obvious reflections off of the windows from things inside the cabin. Picking the correct side of the plane takes some planning because you have to figure out what time the plane is taking off, where the sun will be at that time of day and finally, what direction the plane will be flying. If I made a mistake and picked the sunny side of the plane, then I just live with it and try to take great photos anyways.

Wear Dark Shirts: Dark shirts reflect less light that white shirts and therefore don’t cause reflections in the windows when you are taking photographs. Also, if something in the cabin is causing a reflection in the window, then you can use your shoulder to block the reflection and still get a usable shot.

Time of Day: Invariably, your images will look best when they are taken just after sunrise or right before sunset. At these times, the sun is low in the horizon and creates dramatic shadows on the landscape. Shooting when the sun is higher in the sky typically leads to hazy, low contrast images unless you are photographing in Northern latitudes where there isn’t much atmospheric haze. You can’t always choose when your flight leaves, but knowing that the best photos happen in the morning and evening can help you bias your flight times.

Lens Choice: I have found that a zoom lens that has a range of 24mm on the wide angle side to 80-100mm on the telephoto side is a great choice for airplane photography. The 24mm gives me decent coverage for landscape shots, but isn’t so wide that I get the window of the airplane or the wing into the photograph. The 80-100mm range allows for some interesting detail shots such as mountains and rivers.

ISO: I tend to keep my ISO around 100 or 200 for most of my shots. If we are closer to the ground, then I will sometimes increase my ISO to 400 to allow for faster shutter speeds. This helps prevent motion blur.

Aperture: Since you are taking most of your images from very high in the air and don’t really have to think about depth of field, your aperture choice is much less important. I take a most of my aerial images between f2.8 and f5.6.

Shutter Speed: When you are low to the ground, it is very important to have high shutter speeds. For example, even a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. will result in landscape blur when you are below 1,000 ft. For these situations, try to use a speed of at least 1/500 to 1/1000 sec. I will also pan my camera with the landscape when I am down low to further prevent motion blur. When you are above 10,000 ft., shutter speed is less of a factor, so I will shoot with speeds as low as 1/30 second if necessary. Most important here is that I can steadily hand-hold the camera. If it is bumpy from turbulence, then I will increase my shutter speeds accordingly.

Autofocus: I turn my autofocus off when I’m up in the air and just manually set the focus for infinity. The reason for this is that sometimes the autofocus system has a difficult time resolving landscape features from 30,000 feet and will hunt back and forth.

Window Cleaning: A clean window is important to getting good shots. Unfortunately, airline windows can be very messy due to all the people that press their faces up against them. To get around this, I always carry some type of cotton cloth in my pocket so I can wipe down the window before we take off. Also, if pay close attention, you’ll see that most airplanes actually have three “windows” between you and the outside. Sometimes all three are dirty and I just have to live with it. Shooting at an aperture of f4 or larger will also help eliminate some of the window grime from showing up in your photographs.

Contrast: A lot of images will come back with low contrast because of atmospheric haze. There are a couple ways to remedy this. The first is to use a polarizer, which will help bump up contrast. Be careful though, because the polarizer can also make the sky turn completely black. The second way to increase contrast is through post-processing. I frequently have to bring my photographs into Photoshop and use a standard s-curve to punch up the contrast.

Think Black and White: Sometimes, it is hard to come up with a color image that looks good due to the low contrast and muted hues. When this happens, I try a black and white conversion to see what it will look like.

As with most things in photography, you’ll get better photographic results by putting some effort into planning and preparation ahead of time. Using some of the tips above will also help get better results.


Digital Tidbits: Archiving and Backup Strategies for Digital Storage

In this digital age, it has become more and more difficult to manage our digital images and files. It doesn’t take long to accumulate tens of thousands of images to store, catalog, file, backup and archive. I converted to 100% digital photography in late 1994, and in that time I’ve amassed over 25,000 digital files, which represents hundreds of gigabytes of data storage. Lots of people I talk to have hundreds of thousands of images representing terabytes of data! Let’s talk about storing all those digital files in a way that is fast, safe and efficient.

In the early days of my digital photography life, I didn’t really appreciate the complexity that would come along with storing and saving digital images. Like most people, I kept my original digital images on my desktop computer’s primary hard disk and then simultaneously kept backup CD-ROMs of all my images. It didn’t take long until my computer disk drive was completely full and I had a closet full of CD-ROMs.

Since I make my living from my photos, I quickly realized that I had to come up with a better system to physically store my most important assets. So, I changed my ways and now I currently utilize three external hard drives to store, back-up and double back-up my files. Recognize however that technology is continuously changing and my system changes from year to year. This system serves me well for now, but I’ll probably change to the latest and greatest as I find better methods.

Here is an outline of my current system (see the diagram to the left):

Drive 1: This is always connected to my computer and is my working drive. I keep all my image files on this drive as well as all my business records. As I need to access images, I pull them up from Drive 1, bring them into Photoshop or Nikon Capture and then save them back to Drive 1. This drive is generally spooled up and connected to my computer. It is important that Drive 1 have very quick read/write times because I am working from it so frequently. I recommend that your primary drive come equipped with USB 2.0 or Firewire. Additionally, do a little bit of research to determine if it has a fast disk rotation speed (RPM) and a fast data access speed.

Drive 2: This drive is a clone of Drive 1. I copy all the new contents from Drive 1 over to Drive 2 once per day. The only time this drive is hooked up to my computer is when I’m copying new files from Drive 1. The rest of the time, Drive 2 is spooled down and unplugged to prevent drive failure or power spikes from damaging it. If Drive 1 fails, then I’ve only lost about 24 hours worth of data. Additionally, since it is not connected to the computer, it is much harder for viruses to infect this drive.

Drive 3: This drive is also a clone of Drive 1; however I don’t store it in my office. Rather, I keep this drive off-site and copy all the contents from Drive 1 about once per week (actually, I probably do it more like every two or three weeks because I’m lazy, er … busy!). I keep this drive off-site because that helps me prevent a catastrophe should something bad happen to my office like a burglary or fire.

I expect my drives to fail, so that is why I back-up so frequently. Since I am fairly diligent with my backups and off-site storage, I can remain in business even if my house burns down. If this horrible event should happen, then I can literally be in business the next day by just grabbing Drive 3 that’s stored off-site. At most, I’ve only lost one week’s worth of work (and my house).

I don’t recommend storing any of your images on your desktop or laptop computer’s primary hard drive. The reason for this is that you should use your primary drive for software and system operation. If you let your primary hard drive fill up with images, you’ll soon find that your computer will slow down and will also crash much more frequently. If you don’t want to mess with external hard drives, then get yourself a tower computer box and install extra hard drives right inside the computer box. In this scenario, your primary drive has your software (Photoshop, Operating system, etc.), Internal Drive 1 has your images and Internal Drive 2 is a copy of Drive 1. I would still recommend having a third drive stored off-site.

Some day, probably sooner rather than later, there will be new media storage solutions that will supersede the external HD systems I’m currently using. When that happens, I will migrate my files over to the new media and will relegate my old drives to the scrap bin. I plan for this and know that my existing storage solutions are only temporary.

Here are some common questions I receive from folks about backup and storage:
Q: Which hard drive manufacturer to you recommend?
A: I have found Seagate and Western Digital drives to be most reliable. I recommend buying 250 GB drives to start off with and then buying larger drives once the smaller ones fill up. I buy my drives from computer supply stores like Fry’s and Office Depot.

Q: Should I use CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs for backups?
A: I don’t like to use CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs just because they take too much space in my office. Additionally, they are another thing I have to organize, catalog and file. I much prefer to keep my files on hard drives.

Q: What about Gold archival CD-ROMs?
A: The archival CD-ROMs will provide additional longevity for your files. However, I don’t expect the CD-ROM to be a viable storage solution for the next millennium. Probably, sometime in the next 5-10 years the CD-ROM will fade away and the next storage solution will be available.

Q: Do you recommend online storage solutions?
A: There are a few good online storage locations where you can upload your images and their servers will store them for you. I really like www.photoshelter.com since they are so focused on helping the professional photographer make sales. However, it can be very expensive to backup your entire archive online. For example, 200GB of storage costs about $100 per month. This is worth it if you need access to your files from any place on Earth, however, you can buy a lot of hard drives for $100 per month.

Q: What do you think about RAID Storage?
A: I think RAIDs (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) are a good idea if you have the money. They tend to be a bit pricey and are difficult to setup and manage, but if you need to make sure that you are back up and running immediately after a drive failure, then a RAID is the best alternative. I have chosen not to use a RAID because most of my work doesn’t require immediate delivery. For example, if I ran a news service, then a RAID is the only solution that makes sense. However, my redundancy comes from having multiple, separate hard drives.

Q: How do you keep track of your digital images?
A: I use iView Media Pro 3 for my DAM (Digital Asset Management) software. It is a great program and very capable. One of the neatest things about it is I can take the catalog file with me on the road and still search through my entire archive while traveling. Additionally, this program has a whole host of features that make my life easier such as bulk meta data tagging, creating meta data templates, robust keywording utilities and a very powerful search utility. I have a link on my website where you can buy it at 15% off retail: www.outthereimages.com/news.html




Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? Attend the Art of Travel Workshop this September. Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Portrait Photography Workshops
If you are interested in learning how to take great portraits, this two-day workshop is for you. We’ll spend a lot of time covering lighting arrangements, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. Our Portrait workshops this year are scheduled for 9/15 - 9/16 in Seattle, 11/10 - 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 - 11/18 in Seattle. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. The workshops we held in Houston and Dallas were great fun. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:

Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Photoshop Workshops
Our next Photoshop workshops will be in Seattle during September 7th - 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Nikon D200 Workshops
Our first D200 workshop on June 3rd went very well. Our next workshops are scheduled for August 19th in Seattle and August 26th in Portland. We’ll also have many more scheduled for 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I have the honor of meeting a lot of photographers throughout the USA and I am continually amazed at the creativity I see out there. I appreciate your enthusiasm for photography and hope that this newsletter helps you create beautiful photographs.

Until next time

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


Silhouette Article Images (see text)

Ft. Lauderdale Palm Trees
Nikon D2X, Hand-held SB-800 from SC-17 cable
12-24 lens, f5.6, 1/15sec
Camera was laid down in the grass.
Meter was set for Matrix Metering at 0.0EV.


Moon and Rock Silhoutte, Yosemite, CA
Metering was taken from the purple sky and set at 0.0 (medium brightness)


Donner Pass Bridge, Lake Tahoe, CA
I had the subject stand sideways and separate his legs in order to make him recognizable.


Cactus at Sunset, Phoenix, AZ
The nice sunset sky provided a perfect background for this silhouette. Metered off the brightest spot and set that at +1.7EV or so.


June 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - June 2006

Greetings folks! It has been good to talk to so many of you via email and telephone over this last month. I sincerely appreciate your comments and encouraging words.

I just finished up leading a series of workshops down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with the Nikonians organization. We had a great time learning about digital photography, software and wireless flash systems. I am writing from my hotel room and have just spent a couple days taking photos of the great beaches and pretty palm trees. Since this is Memorial Day weekend, the beaches are just packed with people! It is quite an amazing sight to see so many beach blankets, umbrellas, towels and people.

We are ramping up for another big month of workshops in June. There are still a few seats remaining for the Seattle D70 workshops on June 16th and 17th (www.outthereimages.com/workshops.html) as well as some slots available for the Phoenix Nikonians workshops (www.greaterphoto.com).

Also, I’ll be working very hard to complete the iTTL wireless flash eBook by June 30th. I’ll have ordering information posted here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html when we are ready to start shipping CD-ROMs.


Photo Techniques: Creating Compelling Silhouettes

There are many times when we are photographing on location and nothing really pops out as an interesting photograph. Maybe the light is dull or the clouds are out. Whatever it is, we just don’t feel like the images are really popping. When this situation crops up, I think “Silhouette”. When a silhouette photograph is done well, it almost always evokes a powerful mood and can make a mediocre scene come alive!

For example, while down here in Ft. Lauderdale, I wanted to get a great travel photo of the beach and the palm trees. My hope was to find a nice area with deep blue sky, a vast sandy beach and some pretty palm trees overhanging the ocean. I looked around for quite a while, but all I could find was flat light, some ok looking palm trees and millions of people. I snapped a few photographs with my Nikon D2X, but was unimpressed with the result. Rather than just giving up, I decided to wait a little while longer for the sun to set and then try to create an interesting silhouette with the palm trees and the sky. (see images at left.).

In my opinion, creating compelling silhouettes requires just a few good elements; a simple background, good separation between subject and the background and an instantly recognizable shape for the silhouette. Let’s talk about each of these independently.

Background: The background should be fairly even in tonality. Remember that the word tonality means brightness and doesn’t really have anything to do with color. A blue background can be exactly the same tonality (brightness) as a red background. Even and consistent tonality is important here because you don’t want the background to be chaotic. For example, a background of busy city lights might cause the silhouette of a person to be completely lost in the clutter of the lights. Good choices for backgrounds are blank blue skies, puffy clouds, sunset skies, a white bed sheet or the well-lit wall of a building.

Separation: For good silhouettes, it is important that the background is brighter than the subject. The very definition of a silhouette requires that the view of the object consists of the outline with a featureless interior. Obviously, this requires that the background is generally much brighter than the subject. Finding a bright background like the sky is generally fairly easy. Sometimes it is much more difficult to make your subject dark. I have found that it helps tremendously if you keep the subject in the shadow of a building, the shade of a tree or deep in a valley after the sun sets.

Shape: All great silhouette subjects have instantly recognizable shapes. If you are photographing people, then make sure you can make out individual’s arms and legs. Consider turning the person sideways so your can see their face profile. If you are photographing a tree or a plant, then make sure the tree doesn’t intersect with anything else like a building or other trees, but rather has perfect outline against the sky. The key is to create the photo in such a way that there is no question about what you are looking at.

A variation on a standard silhouette is the hybrid silhouettes (I made this term up just now). This is where the object you are photographing has been “kind of” lighted, but still forms a nice silhouette against the background. The photo example I have here of the palm trees against the blue sky was taken a couple days ago in Ft. Lauderdale about 25 minutes after sunset (not quite civil twilight). If I waited until true civil twilight (about 40 minutes after sunset), then I would have had much less ambient light to work with.

I mounted my 12-24mm lens on my Nikon D2X and laid it on its side in the grass. I then mounted my SB800 speedlight to a SC-17 flash cable and held the flash with one hand, far above my head. I mounted a diffusion dome to the fill flash to soften the light. The camera’s flash sync mode was set for “Slow Rear” and I dialed the flash power down to -1.3. Since the camera was lying on the ground and I couldn’t look through the viewfinder, I had to take about 15 shots before I got the perfect combination of level horizon, all the trees and the appropriate amount of light onto the grass/trees from the flash.

The fill flash lit up the foreground which added some nice color, but also subtly lit up the palm trees to provide a little bit of detail in their trunks and palm fronds. By not allowing too much flash to hit the tree, I created a “hybrid silhouette” that still has excellent contrast against the blue sky.

Finally, metering for good silhouettes is fairly straight forward. You’ll need to point your camera at the lightest portion of sky and set your exposure so this is about +1.7 stops or so. You’ll want the darkest portion of sky to drop out at about -1.7 to -2.0 stops and the area around the silhouette to be about medium brightness (0.0). If the sky is even tonality (like the photo of the moon and rock), then set your exposure so the sky is medium brightness (0.0).


Digital Tidbits: Preparing Your Images for Online Printing

There are more and more questions coming up these days from folks who are printing their images online at commercial labs. Questions like “What color space should I send them in?” or “How do I prepare for resolution and file size?” Since so many people are asking, I thought I’d take a moment to answer some of these questions.

First and foremost, when it comes to getting excellent prints, you need to have excellent camera technique. If your digital files are soft, blurry or underexposed, you will get very poor results from even the best commercial labs.

Many people also ask “how big can I print?” There is no easy answer to this question, but know for a fact that you can get amazing enlargements from 1 megapixel files if your technique is perfect. I routinely get very nice 12”x18” prints from “small” 6MP files and am not afraid to print at 20”x30”. It is true that you can print larger with more pixels; however it really comes back to camera technique and the quality of your digital file. Spend less time worrying about megapixels and more time perfecting your knowledge of exposure, composition and camera technique.

Here are my tips for printing online:
   1. Color Space. The vast majority of commercial printing labs use machines that print in the sRGB color space. Make sure to convert your images to this space before you do any significant color work on your computer. This will prevent any surprises that may come from color shifting during the printing process. Also, make sure that you are sending the files as RGB images and not as CMYK images.

   2. Calibrate your monitor. One of the most important things you can do to ensure excellent results when printing online is to calibrate your monitor using a colorimeter tool. You can buy these tools from many companies and they all work pretty much the same way. I currently use a Monaco Optix XR to calibrate my monitors.

   3. Brightness/contrast. Fix exposure, brightness and contrast as your first Photoshop step. Use Levels or Curves and/or Shadows & Highlights tools to make sure exposure is perfect.

   4. Fix Colors. If your colors need to be fixed, then now is the time to do it. I like to do my color correction using the Curves tool in Photoshop, however there are lots of other ways to do it such as using “Auto Color” or “Auto Levels”.

   5. Blemishes. Repair blemishes such as dust, zits and imperfections with Clone Stamp or Healing Brush tools. You’ll need to do a good job here, otherwise your mistakes will be magnified when you finally print out at the lab.

   6. Size for print. If you are taking images with a modern day digital SLR with at least 3 to 4 MP, then you can just about send your file to the lab with no sizing changes. They have very sophisticated interpolation (resizing) algorithms that do an excellent job of upsizing digital files. I generally just send the lab my file without having re-sized it for output myself (using Photoshop). For example, if I send a file to them from a 6MP camera and ask for a 12”x18” print, I have them do the resizing using their equipment and software. If the lab is using newer printing equipment like a Fuji Frontier or a Noritsu, then their resampling tools are very good. Leave the resizing to them unless they ask you to do it in your computer.

   7. Sharpening. Just about every digital camera file needs to be sharpened and this should always be the final step before saving your file for print. If you are using Photoshop USM (unsharp mask), then use a fairly subtle amount of sharpening to do the job. Somewhere around 100%, 1px and a threshold of 1 or 2 is a good start for portraits. 150%, 1px and 1 threshold is more appropriate for detailed scenes and landscapes. Note that some laboratories ask that you don’t do any sharpening. If this is the case, then skip this step because they know how to properly sharpen for their own print output.    8. Saving Files. In general, you’ll need to send the laboratory either a JPEG or a TIFF file. I have found very little improvement by sending TIFFs, so I always opt to send my files as JPEGs. This also helps with my productivity since JPEGs are much smaller than TIFFs and take much less time to upload. When saving JPEGs, make sure to format them as 8 bit files and save them as the highest quality file possible (i.e. “quality 12” in Photoshop).

   9. Uploading. Most labs have a very easy web user interface for uploading your images. This process can take a long time if you don’t have a fast internet connection. Most digital files you send them will range in size from 2 MB to 50 MB, so your downloading step can take anywhere from 1 minute to multiple hours. Another alternative is to burn your images to a CD-ROM and then deliver it to the lab. Obviously, this removes the convenience of “online” printing.

   10. Auto Correct. If you have gone through the process of calibrating your monitor and you’ve also spent a fair amount of time correcting colors, then make sure to turn off the auto color correction feature during the order sequence. Most online printing houses have a check box on the order screen that says “Turn autocorrect off” or something along those lines. Please do this, or the lab will apply its own color correction to your digital images.

Make sure to test your lab by making prints before you finally commit to a large order. This is always a good idea for a number of reasons. First of all, your monitor may be out of calibration and you’ll receive bad results. Second, your lab may be producing poor results and you might just need to fire them and find another lab that actually produces consistent results.

Not all labs are consistent with their products or services. Unfortunately, some labs are staffed by people who just don’t understand printing or calibration. Here are some good labs that I can personally recommend through my direct experience:
   - Pictage (www.pictage.com). Excellent results, fantastic service, excellent quality. Very high end prints. They cater primarily to wedding/portrait photographers.
   - MPix (www.mpix.com). Great results, excellent quality, fairly quick turn around. They seem to cater more towards landscape/travel photographers.
   - Costco (www.costco.com). Good results, great prices, very fast turn around. Not designed to be “high end”, but I’ve never been disappointed. Also, I can have the prints available for pickup at my local Costco in less than an hour or have them mailed to me.
   - Photoworks (www.photoworks.com). Lots of printing options such as cards, photo books and calendars.
   - Your local camera lab (i.e. www.samys.com or my local lab www.photoproimaging.com). The great thing about shopping at the local camera lab is that you can speak face-to-face with someone who knows the process very well. Most local labs will also mail your prints to you.



Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? Attend the Art of Travel Workshop this September. Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. The workshops we held in Houston and Dallas were great fun. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:

May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jun 8-11 Phoenix
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Photoshop Workshops
Our next Photoshop workshops will be in Seattle during September 7th - 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll be offering workshops on this camera beginning on June 3rd, 2006 and extending into 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I hope this newsletter has helped you take better photographs and that it provides some motivation for you to try new things. Keep photographing and feel free to send me your comments, emails and questions. I’m always happy to help.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!


Photoshop Article Images (see text)

Channel Mixer Menu


Channel Mixer Dialog


Channel Mixer in Action. Notice "Monochrome" box has been selected and blue channel is set to -150 range.


Original Image
Nikon D2X, 12-24 lens, Gitzo CF tripod


Final Image after channel mixer


Fall Colors shot before
Nikon N90s, Ektachrome E100 film


Fall Colors shot after channel mixer


Travel Article Images (see text)
All images taken with Nikon D200 and 12-24, 24-120 or 80-200 lenses.

Colorful Fishing Pier in Galveston


Historical building in old town Galveston


Traditional homes in Galveston


Pelican in Galveston next to fishing boats


Outdoor cafe in old town Galveston


Galveston hotel on the Gulf of Mexico


Wildflower from Galveston Island State Park


Cargo Ship in Galveston Bay


May 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - May 2006

Greetings folks! I’m writing this newsletter from Galveston, Texas while in-between workshops in Houston and Dallas. Texas is a great state and has earned its reputation for being hot! It is early spring and the temperature is 85 degrees with 95% humidity. All the locals say “just wait until it really warms up”.

Each month this year has brought new and exciting growth to our business. Workshops continue to thrive both in the Pacific Northwest as well as around the USA. April had us leading Photoshop, Digital Workflow, Digital Photography and iTTL Flash workshops in Seattle, Portland, Houston and Dallas. In between those times, I was able to take the family out for some rest and relaxation to the Oregon coast where we played on the beach, swam in the pool and did some photo exploring.

I will be spending the month of May leading workshops as well as working hard to complete the Nikon iTTL wireless flash system book. It is our goal to have this eBook ready for sale by the end of June. We’ll post updates on the book here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.

Also, I wanted to point out that I have posted a link to the iView Multimedia software site on our News page (www.outthereimages.com/news.html). If you are interested in purchasing iView MediaPro 3, you can save 15% by clicking on the link from our site. This is a great cataloging program for all your digital photo needs.


Digital Tidbits: Powerful Black and White Conversions in Photoshop

One of the neatest things about digital photography is how easy it is to convert your vibrant color photographs into compelling black and white photographs (see images at left). There are literally hundreds of programs and methods for converting images into black and white, but those of you who have attended my Photoshop workshops know that my favorite black and white conversion method is using the Channel Mixer tool.

Most of my B&W conversions for portraits and people are done with the Channel Mixer tool, but I also like to use this tool for creating very dramatic “Ansel Adams” type B&W landscape images that evoke power and drama. The starting point for an image to be created in this genre requires that your photo has both a deep blue sky and bright white puffy clouds.

The channel mixer tool allows you to modify the original color image in the background, while seeing the result as a black and white image in real time. In order to use the channel mixer for black and white conversion, it is important that we first understand what it does on a color image.

All digital images that you take with your camera are RGB images. This means that they are a composite of Red, Green and Blue (RGB) pixels. The red pixels in your image constitute the “red channel”. The same goes for the green and blue pixels as. They get their own channels called the “green channel” and the “blue channel.” If you put all three channels together, you get the full-color image.

Now to the “Channel Mixer.” To find this tool, click on Photoshop’s “Image” menu, then click on “Adjustments” then “Channel Mixer.” This allows you to change the ratios of each channel independent from the other channels. Say for instance, you wanted to make the red channel “less red”. You could go into the channel mixer and move the red slider to the left to take out some red (or add cyan).

Now that you see what happens on a color image, it is time to make a dramatic B&W conversion. Open an image that has blue sky and white clouds and then open the channel mixer tool. Next, click the little box in the lower left corner that says “monochrome.” This will change the image to a grayscale image, but will still allow you to mix the ratios of each channel behind the scenes. Try moving the sliders around until you find a combination you like. Traditionally, I mix the channels so that sum total of the three percentages equals approximately 100%.

Creating an Ansel Adams type conversion takes going a little more extreme with the sliders. First of all, take the blue slider and move it down to -150%. Next, take the Red and Green sliders and move them up to about 130% ~ 160%. This new image is very dramatic and results in a dark, ominous sky with incredibly white clouds. The contrast range on this conversion is huge and definitely evokes a feeling of power and awe if you start with the right image. The two photographs I show here are great candidates for this conversion because they started out as blue sky photos with bright white clouds. The end result from each image is much more powerful as a black and white than they ever would be in color.

Try this on your own photos, and you too, can become Ansel Adams for a day.


Photo Techniques:Photographing a New Location

Capturing great images while traveling is always a difficult proposition at best. We all want to come home with amazing photos, but frequently come home with something far less. Like you, there are more times than I care to remember where I came home from a trip empty-handed and wished I could go back to shoot more pictures. What is the secret to getting great travel shots? The truth is, it just takes a lot of gumption … and a bit of planning. That’s the topic for this month’s Photo Techniques article; taking great photographs in new locations (see images at left).

As I mentioned in the introduction to this month’s newsletter, I am writing from Galveston Texas while in-between workshops. I had two days to kill between Houston and Dallas, so I thought I’d spend it in this coastal resort area on the Gulf of Mexico. After all, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Hang out at the ocean in sunny, warm weather and try to take some decent photographs.

I tend to be a “planner” and like to read about a new location before I arrive. One of my favorite methods for learning about places is to go to www.google.com and do a web search about that area. I can usually find just about everything I need, such as paces to stay, places to eat, sights to see and areas to avoid. By reading up on the area first, it helps me understand how I want to photograph it.

After I’ve researched the sights, I find a local map of the area to help understand which way is up. Here in Galveston, I planned my day around which side of the island I wanted to be on for sunrise and sunset. Usually, I want to be on the east side of a location at sunrise and on the west side for sunset. This way, I can capitalize on the golden light for the day.

Once I arrive on the scene, I grab a city newspaper and thumb through it to see what the current events are. I also like to spend some time talking to locals. I’ll go into a coffee shop, a restaurant, or just sit down next to someone on a park bench and pick their brain about the area. You’d be amazed at what you can learn just by having a simple conversation.

Finally, I will take a quick visit to the local tourism office and talk to the volunteers there. I’ll ask them if they know how to access certain spots or if there are any special photographic locations that I shouldn’t miss.

My goal in each new area is to try to photograph some of the iconic shots while also working to capture something new and different. For example, here in Galveston most tourists come down for the miles and miles of beaches, so I will be sure to take some iconic beach shots. There are also thousands of private residences as well as acres and acres of undeveloped wild lands. My plan for photography was to capture beaches, interesting homes, interesting people and wild spaces.

When it comes time to start taking photos, one of the mistakes we all make is being too timid initially. A lot of photographers find that they need to “slowly work into it” by keeping their camera in their bag and only taking it out when a photograph appears. I get over this early inhibition by taking my camera out of the bag right away. This gets my mind into the photographic groove from the get go. Almost always, my initial shots from a trip are weak, so it makes a lot of sense to get those out of the way immediately. My shots invariably improve as the day goes on, so the more I take early in the trip, the quicker I get better photos.

One way that helps me keep my gear out and ready is by using the right camera bags. During this trip to Galveston, I used a modular photo belt system from Think Tank Photo called the Pro Modulus Speed System (www.thinktankphoto.com/ttp_product_ProMod.php). It was fantastic to use on the fly, as it allowed me to quickly change lenses between my camera bodies. Also, since it was hot and humid, the light-weight harness didn’t cause me to get sweaty in the 95% humidity.

Along with this approach is another recommendation: Don’t be afraid to use your gear and get it dirty, wet, humid, sweaty and grubby. This week, I took pictures while kneeling down on the beach, standing in the surf, getting bit by horse flies and swatting mosquitoes. Your camera gear is durable and is built to be used. You spent good money on a camera in order to come home with fantastic photographs, so don’t keep it all wrapped up and protected. Use common sense though - if it is pouring down rain, you might want to keep the camera under your coat between photos. However, I’m never afraid to take the camera out and expose it to the elements to get the shot.

I like to photograph in the morning and in the evening. These times of day provide the best light and are also the most active. If the area I’m going to has a nature preserve or a wildlife park, then I’ll go to this spot in the morning. Typically, animals are more active in the morning, so it makes sense to focus my time there. I’ll spend my evenings in the city, photographing people and city life. Typically, beaches and tourist districts don’t even begin to get really populated until after lunch, so it makes sense to photograph these spots in the evening.

During the middle part of the day, when the sun is high and the light is harsh, I’ll generally drive around, scouting for great sunset spots. If it is overcast, then I’ll keep on shooting throughout the middle part of the day.

Great travel photographs incorporate bright and bold colors. I search out anything and everything that has bold blues, reds and greens, and then work at composing that subject into a great photograph.

Taking great photos in a new location can be a bit daunting. However, with a little bit of planning and some forethought, you can go from mediocre to magnificent in no time!

Tips for Photographing New Locations
- Read the local newspapers event pages.
- Get a good map of the area.
- Do internet searches on the area (google.com, yahoo.com).
- Drive around the city at high noon (during the bad light) to scout out sunset shots.
- Get off the main road and onto the dirt roads.
- Get out of the car and walk down the street.
- Smile and talk to people while you are photographing (shake some hands).
- Photograph at sunrise and sunset.
- Look for bold colors to incorporate into the photograph.
- Get close to your subject. Get closer. Closer still.
- Tell a story. Wide, medium and small pictures.
- Spend some time in the region. Three hours won’t cut it.


Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? Attend the Art of Travel Workshop this September. Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (http://www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. The workshops we held in Houston and Dallas were great fun. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.
The dates and cities will be:

Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jun 8-11 Phoenix
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Photoshop Workshops
Our next Photoshop workshop dates are May 19, 20 in Portland. We have additional Photoshop workshops in Seattle during September 7th - 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll be offering workshops on this camera beginning on June 3rd, 2006 and extending into 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
Thank you very much for reading this month’s newsletter. I sincerely appreciate your support and I hope you will be able to apply some of these learnings to your own photography. Keep shooting!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Article Images (see text)

D200 Top


Nice Big Screen on back of camera


Red Plant
Great colors and simple background.
D200, Mirror lockup, 80-200mm f2.8 lens with Kenko Extension tubes, Gitzo CF tripod


Water Droplet
D200, Mirror lockup, Photoflex 12" Reflector, 80-200mm f2.8 lens with Kenko Extension tubes, Gitzo CF tripod


Photoflex reflector, handheld


Kenko Extension Tubes


April 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - April 2006

Our workshops during the month of March were a great success. We were able to meet up with photographers in Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. It is truly great to see so many enthusiastic photographers all around the USA. The digital photography revolution is marching forward and lots of people are hanging on for the ride! There is a large need for quality instruction and I am grateful that you have chosen Out There Images, Inc. as your photographic training headquarters.

Spring brings along so many photographic opportunities that it is a favorite time of year for me. I love watching the trees blossom, the flowers bloom and the grass turn green. I’ll be outdoors taking as many photos as possible during the next few months and will also be enjoying the warmer weather and longer days. In this month’s newsletter, I spend some time talking about macro photographic techniques for spring flowers while also covering one of Nikon’s new cameras, the D200 digital SLR.

Over the next few months, I’ll be meeting up with many of you in Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Portland and Florida. I look forward to meeting all the new faces and also refreshing old acquaintances.

A bit of news: we’ve just entered into a great new business arrangement with two companies that provide excellent products for photographers. The first is with iView Media who produces excellent digital asset management software for photographers. We are able to offer their new product, iView Media Pro3 for 15% off of retail. Also, we have partnered with Think Tank Photo to offer free products for workshop participants who buy $50 or more through Think Tank. These programs will be rolling out during April. Watch our website News (www.outthereimages.com/news.html) page for updates.

Digital Tidbits: Nikon D200 Digital SLR Overview

Nikon’s newest digital SLR is the D200 is an amazing piece of technology. Somehow, Nikon has managed to pack in most of the D2X camera’s capability into a camera not much bigger than the D70. The street price for the D200 is currently somewhere around $1700, and in my opinion is well worth it.

My early test shots with the camera have so far proven that Nikon has created another camera system that I can fully trust. It has a beautiful image processor and great resolution at 10MP. See the macro test shots below that were taken on March 28th, 2006 with the D200. The images are shown directly out of the camera with absolutely no Photoshop manipulation - just sized down for display on internet.

The D200 fits my hand just perfectly and has all the control buttons in exactly the right places. I especially like the fact that the exterior buttons are nice and big. Also, the rubberized coating on the body makes gripping the camera very easy and reassuring.

One of the features of the D200 that I appreciate is the built-in commander flash unit. Many of the people who have attended my workshops know that I definitely don’t advocate the use of the pop-up flash. However, in the case of the D200, the pop-up flash can be used as a commander unit to control two separate groups of remote flashes. The D70 will only allow control of one group of flash on Channel 3 Group A, but the D200 allows two groups on four different channels. Also, the D200 comes with a “repeat flash” option that will allow stroboscopic effects. Cool.

Just like the D2X, the D200 comes with its own programmable FUNC button. On my D2X, I like to assign the High Speed Crop (HSC) mode to the FUNC button. The D200 doesn’t have this HSC mode, so I have programmed the FUNC to activate the spot meter. This means that I can keep the camera in Matrix meter mode for most of my shooting, but then when I need the precision of spot meter, I press the FUNC button and briefly activate the spot meter.

Autofocus on the D200 is very quick and the 11 autofocus regions will be a big boon for action photography. As with the D2X, the D200 has four different AF modes: Single area, Dynamic area, Group dynamic area and closest subject. I typically use Group Dynamic for general shooting and then switch to single Dynamic when I need precise focusing.

The camera will photograph at 5 frames per second which is just great for most action photography. It will also photograph up to 100 images in a row during the shooting sequence, which is a boon for people who need to shoot long action sequences. Also, the camera has a mirror lockup function to allow for reduced vibration during critical photos such as close-ups or telephoto pics.

The playback screen on the back of the camera is nice and big! It is a pleasure to look at the images and zoom in to check the sharpness of your images. Also, the menu screens are very easy to read, with nice big letters. That’s a good thing for those of us who are optically challenged (i.e. wear glasses). However, one drawback of the big screen is the low battery life that results from it. Most people are finding that they only get about 200 to 250 shots per battery charge out of the D200 in real world shooting. You’ll get a lot more life out of the camera if you don’t chimp, but those of us who shot with the D2X and the D70 have been spoiled with much longer battery life.

Another neat function on the D200 is the ability to shoot in black and white mode. While this isn’t a new feature for digital cameras, it is kind of nice to be able to photograph directly in black and white rather than convert it later in Photoshop. I haven’t had enough time to really explore the capabilities of the black and white mode, but in the limited shooting I’ve done, this mode looks to hold some promise for rich blacks and subtle tonal gradations.

The last item I wanted to cover is the excellent white balance options available. As most of you know, I look don’t recommend using Auto WB for critical shooting. Rather, I suggest that you either choose a WB setting (like Cloudy -1 for travel) or do a Preset WB (for studio work). The D200 has no less than 5 (five!) preset memory locations that will allow you to save WB data for recall in the future. This capability is great for photographers who frequently return to a shooting location and want the ability to recall the best WB setting for that location. Add to this, the additional ability to dial in a Kelvin value, and you have a camera worthy of joining the professional ranks!

I am very impressed with the D200. It is fast, it is light and it is accurate. This is a recipe for success as far as I am concerned. The fact that it also produces great images means that it will travel with me in my camera bag for a long time.

Photo Techniques - Spring Flower and Plant Photography

Spring is a fantastic time of year to take outdoor photos. There aren’t many things I enjoy more than getting outside to explore the new plant life while endeavoring to capture it on film. Getting great macro shots of plants requires some specialized equipment and some basic compositional rules to make the photo work out.

Equipment is almost always the first thing that people want to know about when it comes to macro work. I like to keep my system as simple as possible. I don’t own any macro lenses, but rather use extension tubes. I own the Kenko extension tubes that come in a set of three thicknesses. You can find the entire set at just about any camera store for around $150. The reason I purchased the Kenko tubes is because they allow full auto focus and metering with all my Nikon lenses. For some reason, Nikon didn’t design their tubes to allow metering and auto focus. Go figure.

I use the extension tubes on almost all of my lenses and consistently get great results. I especially like to use the tubes on my 80-200 f2.8 as the depth of field can be very narrow.

Next, you’ll need a good tripod that will allow you to get low to the ground. I really like the Gitzo Mountaineer series of carbon fiber tripods because of their great strength to weight ratio. Their tripods are very well thought out and very durable.

One of the simplest, but most effective tools I use is a 12” Photoflex light disk. It folds up nice an small so that I can store it in my bag, but then opens up to 12” diameter when I need additional light on the subject. One side is gold and the other is silver. I love to add in an extra amount of light that frequently gives a photo the punch it needs. See the photo for an example of how I use it in my photography.

Finally, the last piece of gear that I recommend is a cable release or a self-timer. You’ll find that camera shake will ruin your best efforts unless you do everything possible to prevent it. I like to use mirror lockup and a cable release for my critical macro shots. I use the Nikon MC-30 shutter release cable for my D200 and D2X. When I’m shooting with the D70, I will use the camera’s self timer and set it for a 2 second delay. This allows me to trigger the camera and then take my hands away while it shoots.

As for macro technique, I like to align the film plane of the camera to the plant that I’m photographing. If you aren’t careful, then you’ll find that just one segment of the plant will be in focus and the rest will be out of focus. By aligning the back of the camera to the plant’s stem, you’ll get more of the leaves or petals in detail.

When composing the photograph, try to place the flower or leaf off to one side of the image. Also, don’t be afraid to make the stem a compositional element by running it diagonally through the image. All the traditional compositional rules apply to macro photography, such as the rule of thirds, leading lines and appropriate use of negative space.

Get the background to be consistent in color. The more cluttered it is, the less the shot will work. I like to use solid green grass or blue water or dark shadows for my backgrounds. I move around with my camera to make sure that the background looks nice and smooth. Next, I’ll press the Depth of Field Preview button on the camera to make sure that there isn’t anything that will show up and detract from the composition.

Another great tip is to make sure that your background is as far away as possible. I like it when I can get my subject at least 5 feet away from the background and feel even better when the background is 10 to 20 feet away. A clear blue sky can also be a great background if you don’t mind photographing “up” at flowers that are on the ground. One of the most difficult situations you run across in macro work is when your flower is on the ground right next to an ugly bunch of ground cover. If that situation arises, then get your camera lower to the ground and shoot at a low angle to try and provide some additional separation.

Finally, be on the lookout for water droplets on your plants, because they can really help your macro work go from mediocre to fantastic. Everyone loves to look at lush photos of foliage, so try to include some water in the photo. If you can’t find it naturally, then bring along a spray bottle and douse your plant with some H2O.

I encourage you to have patience and be persistent with your macro work. Hold yourself to a high standard and don’t give up until you achieve it.

Workshop Updates:

Nikonians Workshops
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. The workshops we held last month in Los Angeles at Samys Camera (www.samys.com) and in the Bay area were great fun. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:

Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jun 8-11 Phoenix
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

The Art of Travel Workshops
Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (http://www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
Our next Photoshop workshop dates are April 5, 6, 7 in Seattle and May 19, 20 in Portland. We have additional Photoshop workshops in Seattle during September 7th - 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can’t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll be offering workshops on this camera beginning in June ’06 and extending into 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We’ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
I greatly appreciate your kind words of encouragement and enthusiasm to learn. Keep shooting and keep learning. I hope to see you out in the field or in one of our exciting workshops.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





PMA Images Photographs (see text)

Nikon 105mm f2.8 VR Macro


Matt Kloskowski's Photoshop CS2 Speed Clinic Book


iView MediaPro 3


Peter Krogh's The DAM Book


Alien Skin Software


Think Tank Speed Racer Camera Bag


LowePro Specialist 85 Camera Bag


Eizo Monitors


Negative Space Photographs (see text)
Cluttered Space, No Balance


Better Balance of Negative Space in Sky


Lots of Negative Space in Sky


March 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - March 2006

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - March 2006

I’m down in sunny Florida at the annual Photo Marketing Association trade show. It is exciting to see the digital photography market blossoming and maturing so quickly. The variety of products shown at this show is simply amazing. I have reported below on some of the products that I think you’ll enjoy. Check out the “PMA Update” section below.

After the PMA show I’ll be leading workshops in Los Angeles (at Samy’s Camera Store, www.samys.com) and San Francisco with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org). We’ll be teaching four days in each city on Photoshop, Nikon Capture, Nikon iTTL Flash and Nikon D70. It’s going to be great fun.

Also, be on the lookout soon for our new book on Nikon iTTL Flash System. It is titled “Using the Nikon Creative Lighting System - A Step by Step Guide to Using the SB-600 and SB-800 Speedlights” Our first publishing run will be as an e-Book and then later we’ll be offering it as a print edition. You can follow updates here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html

PMA Update
Every year the Photo Marketing Association puts on one of the biggest shows in the country to show off all the new photographic products and trends. I have included here some of the things I think are great from the show.

Nikon has announced a new image editing software package to replace Nikon Capture. The new software is called Nikon Capture NX. I lead a Nikon Capture workshop through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) so it will be neat to incorporate this new version into my workflow. Some of the highlights with the new software are marquee tools, U Point technology (ability to make local changes), and a better image browser function with IPTC editing capability.

Nikon also had their new 105mm f2.8 VR macro lens at the show. It was simply stunning! If you are in the market for a new closeup lens, this is one you shouldn’t pass up. I used the lens on my D2X and D200 and was impressed with the speed and responsiveness. Great lens.

The Nikon booth was a lot of fun to watch over the show. They had great presentations from lots of photographers like Joe McNally, Annie Griffiths-Belt and Bob Krist. All of them talking about how they are using digital in their professional workflow.

Canon’s new EOS 30D is an upgrade to their existing 20D system and is also lower in price. Many of our customers are Canon shooters and I recommend this new camera for them. One of the upgrades that makes this camera worth while for me is the addition of a spot meter.

Photoshop Speed Book. I met up with the Matt Kloskowski, the author of the brand new Photoshop book called ““The Photoshop CS2 Speed Clinic”. His book addresses so many of your concerns as photographers about spending hours behind the monitor processing images in Photoshop. He shows literally hundreds of ways to work fast in Photoshop like using actions, automating RAW, batch processing and editing scripts. Matt is a great guy and has produced a great book. You can buy it from Amazon (www.amazon.com).

Software: There were a variety of software packages that I was able to try out. One of my favorites was iView MediaPro (www.iview-multimedia.com). Their product is aimed at managing your digital files in a very efficient way. While there, I was able to meet and talk with the author of “the DAM Book”, Peter Krogh (www.thedambook.com). His book on Digital Asset Management for Photographers is state of the art and should be required reading for all digital photographers.

Another great piece of software is by Alien Skin (www.alienskin.com) and is called “Exposure”. Exposure is a Photoshop plugin that makes digital images look like they were shot on film. You can use it to get the “Velvia” look or apply special effects like sepia toning. However, the best utility of this software is the ability to do some stunning black and white conversions. I’ll be testing this out on my own very soon.

Hoodman (www.hoodmanusa.com) was at the show with a range of products for digital photographers. They have started selling new flash card with 150x speed ratings. Additionally, they have improved upon their LCD hoods with a new LCD Loupe for viewing your photos on the back of your camera in sunny conditions. It was just released at the show and will provide a 1.2x magnification for those of us who need a bit of optical help!

Think Tank Photo (www.thinktankphoto.com) was showing off their line of excellent camera bags. They have a great modular system specifically aimed towards the traveling photographer and airport warrior. Check out their “Speed Racer” bag for ease of use and quick access.

LowePro (www.lowepro.com) had a great booth there and displayed all of their camera cases. One of my favorites is the Specialist 85 AW. It has a waist belt and a shoulder belt for easy carrying ability. Also, it has an all weather cover (AW) to keep your stuff dry. I like it because it will easily fit a large digital camera with 80-200 f2.8, a 12-24mm and a midrange lens. I can also put one or two flashes in it and easily travel around.

Adobe (www.adobe.com) had an impressive booth with quite a few presentations from folks like Rick Sammon. They were really pushing their Lightroom product as well as their Photoshop Elements and CSII software.

EIZO (www.eizo.com) had a great booth and was showing off their excellent LCD monitors. These are the best of the best and are really the first LCD monitors that can show the entire Adobe RGB gamut. They are very pricey at around $3,500, but worth it for those of you who do high end color work. If you want something a little more palatable, they have just released two new ColorEdge monitors called the CD240W and the CE210W. They are priced in the $1,500 range, but perform very very well.

Portable Storage. There were quite a few new portable data storage products that I saw. One product was from Jobo (GigaVu Pro - www.jobo.com/usa/products/gvpe/index.html) and the other one from Vosonic (MVP 9000 - www.vosonic.com).

Finally, I met up with Bert Sirkin of www.PhotoCheatSheets.com who showed off some of his new laminated cheat sheets for Nikon and Canon digital cameras. He has cheat sheets for the D70, D200, D2X, Flash products, Photoshop, composition, and lots of other items too. He sent some samples home with me to review that I’ll also be bringing to our workshops.


Photo Techniques: Negative Space
One of the rules I follow in photography is to fill the frame with my subject. I sound like a broken record in my travel photography workshops, but I’m always telling people to “get closer”. Many a great photographer has said “If your photo isn’t good enough, then you aren’t close enough.” There is a lot of wisdom in those words.

In this discussion, I want to talk about doing the opposite of “getting close” and discuss how to create far away photos that have nice balance and great negative space. Negative space is defined as the space around the subject. Compositionally speaking, the negative space in your photograph is the area outside your subject, but inside the frame (edges) of the photograph.

For example, negative space is the area surrounding Aunt Matilda in the photograph or the sky around an airplane. Often times, negative space is more important to the composition of the photograph than the positive space, or subject.

If you are thoughtful in your composition of the photograph, then you can include a lot of negative space and still end up with a pleasing result. If you are not thoughtful, then the negative space in your photograph is just clutter and detracts from any meaningful composition. As an artist, you need to plan for your negative space as much as planning for your subject. We want to somehow balance the negative space with the positive space.

Let’s put this concept into practice.

The photo examples I show here (see images at www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html) are of a new bridge under construction in the area where I live. It has been a lot of fun to watch and photograph this engineering marvel during construction. As I began photographing the bridge, my first inclination was to shoot tight photos that convey a sense of drama and power. I took quite a few tightly cropped shots, but I got to thinking about what it would look like if I included a lot of negative space in the photograph.

To make good use of lots of negative space, you want to have clear delineations between the subject and the negative space. This means that you shouldn’t have branches from a tree intersecting the edges of a building. Rather, you want some sky between the building and the tree. The sky is the negative space and should be homogeneous in nature. You want a nice, unobstructed sky. You want nice clean lines around the building. You want the tree to stand alone and be well separated from the building.

To further perfect your use of negative space, you need to think of it as having shape and form -just like your subject has shape and form. Plan your picture so that the negative space shape/form balances the subject’s space. Areas of the picture that contain absolutely nothing provide the best balance in a well composed image.

Some tips on negative space:
1. Make it homogeneous tonality
2. Make it homogeneous color
3. Make it homogeneous texture
4. Reduce clutter in the negative space (simplify)
5. Design the negative space so that it draws your eye to the subject

Some examples of “good” negative space
1. Blank blue sky
2. Grassy field
3. Patterned clouds in the sky
4. Brickwork behind a portrait subject
5. Blank walls
6. Bright colored background that compliments your subject’s color


Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (http://www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
We have had numerous requests to increase our Photoshop workshops in the Seattle, WA area and in the Portland, OR area. So, we’ve added two additional weekends between now and June 2006. The new workshop dates are April 5, 6, 7 in Seattle and May 19, 20 in Portland. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information:www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll be offering workshops on this camera beginning in June ’06 and extending into 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have teamed up with The Nikonians again for 2006. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:
Mar 2-5 Los Angeles (at Samy’s Camera Store)
Mar 9-12 San Francisco
Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jun 8-11 Phoenix
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your referrals. Many people have signed up based on word-of-mouth contact from you and I want you to know how much I truly appreciate your kind words.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Lighting Photographs (see text)
Key with Fill




Key and Bounce Reflector




Flash and Gold Reflector




Key Light and Fill with Reflector




Multiclamp




Sharpening Illustrations (see text)
Completed Photograph




Good Sharpening




No Sharpening




Bad Sharpening - large radius and large amount




February 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - February 2006

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - February 2006

The month of January has found us busy leading workshops in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve just finished up a number of Photoshop, Digital Workflow, Nikon D70 and Flash workshops and we are looking forward to the new Nikonians North America workshops kicking off in March in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Also, we’ll be down at the big PMA (Photo Marketing Association, www.pmai.org) trade show in Orlando at the end of February. I’m really looking forward to this trip as it will take me away from the record rainfall we’ve had in Washington State over the last month.

2006 is shaping up to be better than ever. We have committed to teaching more workshops in more cities this year and have created a few exciting new workshops as well. We have some important changes to our workshop schedule that we will detail below. For example, by popular demand we have added additional Photoshop workshops in Seattle and Portland for April and May. Also, we will begin offering D200 workshops to support this fantastic camera system. It is truly an amazing camera and a lot of fun to shoot too!

Stay tuned for more exciting developments as we publish our Nikon iTTL Wireless flash book and provide new products in the near future.

Photo Techniques: Simple Portrait Lighting Tools
It seems like whenever I teach a portrait workshop or flash workshop, most of the people are very interested in the gear I use. Mostly because people know that studio equipment is very expensive and everyone is looking for ways to reduce the costs. A big part of my workshops is showing people that it is fairly easy to put together a lighting system that won’t break the bank. With almost no equipment, a person can do a phenomenal job with simply a large daylight window and a large reflector. At the other end of the equipment spectrum, a photographer can spend tens of thousands of dollars on gear. Most of us can’t afford to break the bank on lighting equipment, so I submit to you some innovative and simple ways to create a lighting system that works for you.

The single most important thing you can do for portrait lighting is find a way to diffuse your light source. If you take a picture with direct flash, then you can expect a harsh result. In some cases, a harsh light is desirable because it gives a gritty feel for the resulting photo. You should use harsh light for tough looking people or very serious portraits. However, using a non-diffused light is kind of like drinking out of a fire hose. It’s fun for a while, but quickly becomes overwhelming.

So, what are the best ways to diffuse the light? I have two favorite diffusion tools – the reflector and the umbrella. I’ve chosen them both because of their effectiveness as well as their compact portability.

Let’s talk about the first of these tools: the reflector. I have quite a few reflectors for all sorts of purposes, but my favorites are a 42” white/gold disk reflector and a 12” silver/gold disk reflector. Both of these fold up nice and small into a smaller package that fit into my travel bags and camera bags. In my opinion, a 42” reflector is the minimum size you should use for portraits. Any smaller and you just can’t adequately light up a large enough area on your subject. In photography, larger is better!

I use the small 12” reflector to illuminate smaller items such as flowers and table-top objects. This little one folds up nice and tiny and will fit into every one of my camera bags. Don’t use a 12” reflector as a diffusion panel for portrait work unless you are photographing newborn babies.

There are thousands of ways to use reflectors but I’ll list just a few of those ways here (see the lighting diagrams). The simplest way is to prop up the reflector on the shadowed side of your subject. The main light (key light) is used to provide most of the light for the scene, and the reflector bounces light onto the shadowed side of the face.

The next way to use a reflector is to use it as the main light diffusion source. I do this by pointing the flash at the reflector and then having the subject on the other side of the flash (see diagram). This provides a very nice, even light with hardly any shadows. I own and use Photoflex reflectors, but there are numerous brands that work equally as well. For portrait work, I like the gold/white reflector. I use gold when the person needs a bit more color and white when the person doesn’t need more color. Simple.

There are lots of other ways to construct reflectors using your own hands too. I often will use a large 4-foot by 4-foot white piece of card stock (matting board stock works well too). Additionally, you can buy foam core in various colors to modify the hue of light. I have also taken aluminum foil and taped it to foam core to work as an intense reflector. You can apply the foil smoothly or crinkle it up a bit to diffuse the light even more.

The key to using reflectors is to get them as close as possible to the subject. You want as large a surface area as possible to help hide and mask those laugh lines, crows’ feet and wrinkles!

My next most favorite lighting tools are flash umbrellas. I like these because they are so portable. I can pack them into just about any piece of luggage and take them on location everywhere. They work very well with small speedlights like the Nikon SB-800 or Canon 550 EX. Of course, they also work well with higher end studio equipment like Broncolor, Elinchrome and Profoto strobes/monolights.

For portrait work, the larger the umbrella the better. I think that the smallest umbrella size you should own is 32” diameter. Larger 40” umbrellas are better and 60” units are great! Remember that the bigger you go, the harder it will be to fit it into your portable bags. If you never do any portraits outside of your home studio, then buy the biggest units you can afford and I guarantee you won’t be sorry. I like Westcott and Photoflex, but any brand will do. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

To make the umbrellas work, you need to have an umbrella mounting bracket – also known as light stand adapters or swivels or multiclamps. These can be purchased from just about any camera store that carries lighting supplies. The brackets can be mounted on any number of photographic stands such as tripods, light stands, Bogen superclamps, etc., and allow you to mount a flash and umbrella together to a light stand. I recommend owning at least two umbrellas for your burgeoning studio.

So now that you’ve purchased two umbrellas and a reflector, you have the beginnings of a portable lighting studio. I can do quite a bit with just these tools. The variations are unlimited. Use one umbrella/flash as the key (main light), place the second a bit lower and to the side for fill then set up the gold reflector to add some color to the scene. The point is that for a limited investment, you now have a great portable studio.

Digital Tidbits: Sharpening - When, How and Why?
I don’t think I’ve taken a digital photograph in my life that didn’t need a little bit of sharpening. Even the softest baby portrait in delicate window light needs a bit of sharpening! Let’s talk about how to sharpen and when to sharpen.

Since all digital photos need a bit of sharpening, it would seem to make most sense to sharpen in the camera so you don’t have to spend unnecessary time at the computer later, right? Wrong. Most people know that I am a strong proponent of getting just about everything perfect in the camera, and for the most part, that is the best approach. However, when dealing with sharpening an image, you have to be very careful because most sharpening software actually “damages pixels” during the process. Also, different types of photographs need different amount of sharpening. For example, a photo of a brick building can stand up to a lot of sharpening while a photograph of a person might need just a little bit of sharpening. Also, we as photographers sometimes choose to selectively sharpen portions of our photographs. For example, we might want to sharpen just the eyes in our portrait while leaving the rest of the face untouched.

For these reasons, and many more, it makes sense to do your image sharpening in the computer rather than in the camera. There are, however exceptions to this rule. For example, a photojournalist might choose to do in-camera sharpening because she doesn’t have time to Photoshop the photographs before going to press. Also, an individual who doesn’t want to worry about computer processing of images (it is more common than you think!) will also choose to sharpen in the camera so they can go direct to print. By the way, in-camera sharpening is a custom setting on most camera systems. You have to turn it on or off. Additionally, you can choose the level of sharpening for each photo.

Ok, so let’s assume you want to use your computer to sharpen your images. In that case, remember that sharpening should always be the very last step before printing. For example, if you took a photograph of some airplanes on a tarmac that was a little underexposed, then you would want to fix the exposure first using levels or curves then do the sharpening last. There are more ways to do sharpening than I could possibly cover here, so I’ll just give a few examples using Photoshop (see the example screenshots). Recognize that there are quite a few other software options available to you that can probably do a better job, but I think you’ll find Photoshop to be quite capable for most of your needs.

Here’s the process. Open up your photo in Photoshop and complete all of your improvements such as levels, brightness, color correction, spot fixes and saturation. Now, open the sharpening filter by clicking Filter --> Sharpen --> Unsharp Mask. This opens up a new dialog box with three sliders and a preview window. Most people get very confused when trying to understand what the three sliders do, so I’ll try to simplify them a bit.

The Amount slider controls the amount of sharpening. 150% is more than 100%. The Radius slider affects how many pixels from a line of contrast are impacted by the tool. For example, if you are sharpening wire-rimmed eyeglasses, then a radius of 5 pixels will impact pixels up to 5 pixels away from the edge of the glasses. Most of the time you want your radius to be somewhere between 1 pixel and 2 pixels; any more than that and it looks too unnatural. Finally, the threshold slider controls the photograph’s resistance to the sharpening effect. For example, if you have a threshold of 5, then the sharpening tool won’t affect any pixels that are more than 5 brightness levels apart. If neighboring pixels are close in brightness (i.e. less than 5 levels apart), then they will be sharpened. What’s the best value for threshold? Somewhere around 1.

If you are looking for a simple answer that will apply to most of your sharpening needs, then use Amount 70% ~ 125%, Radius = 1 ~ 1.5 px, Threshold = 1. From here on out, I’ll abbreviate the settings as 125, 1, 1 (i.e. 125%, 1px, 1 threshold).

As you can see in the airplane photos, when your sharpening is around 100, 1, 1, you can get pretty nice results. Compare the 100, 1, 1 screen shot with the first shot and you can see the difference between an unsharpened photo and a sharpened photo. The unsharpened photo looks a little soft, but the correctly sharpened one looks just right.

If you aren’t careful and try to over sharpen, for example 120, 4, 1, you get obvious sharpening halos. These appear in the transitions between dark and light areas and look like light fog. Look around the windows or propeller of the airplane or above the stand of trees on the horizon and you can see this haze effect. Not good. The moral of the story here is to keep your radius low so you avoid the halos.

Finally, everyone has different preferences when it comes to sharpening. I encourage you to practice with the tool and then print out some pictures. With digital printing being so inexpensive these days, you can complete an entire printing experiment for less than $10. Try some prints at zero sharpening, some at 75, 1, 1, some at 150, 1, 1 and some at 200, 1, 1 and compare. It won’t take you very long to find a result you like.

Workshop Updates:

The Art of Travel Workshops
Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (http://www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We’ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Please note that we have cancelled the St. Croix Art of Travel Workshop which was previously scheduled for May 31st – June 4th.

Photoshop Workshops
We have had numerous requests to increase our Photoshop workshops in the Seattle, WA area and in the Portland, OR area. So, we’ve added two additional weekends between now and June 2006. The new workshop dates are April 5, 6, 7 in Seattle and May 19, 20 in Portland. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction – Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information:www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

Nikon D200 Workshops
We’ll be offering workshops on this camera beginning in June ’06 and extending into 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have teamed up with The Nikonians again for 2006. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:
Mar 2-5 Los Angeles (at Samy’s Camera Store)
Mar 9-12 San Francisco
Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC
Nov 3-6 Chicago area
TBD: Phoenix

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your referrals. Many people have signed up based on word-of-mouth contact from you and I want you to know how much I truly appreciate your kind words.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Simplify Photos (see text)
Cluttered Forest Photograph




Simple Forest Photograph




Cluttered Dock Cleat Photograph




Simple Dock Cleat Photograph




January 2006 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - January 2005

Mike Hagen - Out There Images Newsletter - January 2006

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year's Holiday. We spent our Christmas with family and friends and were able to enjoy this season of giving and celebration.

We've been hard at work creating new digital workshops, writing a how-to book on the Nikon SB-600 and SB-800 flashes (www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html) as well as firming up details for our 2006 Nikonians Tour that will bring us to many major cities in the USA, Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We work extremely hard to bring you the very best in digital training by cutting through all the rumors, random commentary and incorrect information. All of our workshop in 2006 will be specific, focused and to the point so that you learn what you need to know in order to succeed as a digital artist. We have an exciting year ahead of us in 2006 and we hope you can join us in one of our workshops!

Photo Techniques: Simplify
There are many truths in photography that should generally be followed. One of these truths is that “simpler is better.” You have no doubt seen photos you liked and were impressed by the powerful colors or drama created by the strong lines. More often than not, the photographer worked very hard to eliminate distracting elements that would otherwise take away from the dramatic composition.

I approach all my photos thinking not only about what I should include, but also about what I should eliminate. In fact, I frequently will look at a composition and the first thought into my mind is “what doesn’t belong in this photo?” This decision is just as important as deciding what does belong in the photo.

All of my compositions are boiled down to the essential elements of the scene. For example, if you are shooting a photograph of a forest, then you need to ask yourself: what are the critical elements that define a forest? In my case, I imagine a forest consisting of trees. It is easy to run into a grove of trees and snap a picture, but it is much more difficult to boil down a forest to its basic element – trees. The photo examples I included here show a progression from a cluttered image to a fairly simple image.

This stand of trees was in a local park about two miles from my house. The land was donated to the community by a long-time resident and has three or four miles of trails accessible to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. A few weeks ago, I took my children for a hike through this small forest and was impressed by its simple beauty. I promised myself that I would go back again on a foggy day to try and capture a shot that said “forest.”

I decided that my final image was going to be trees in the fog, and nothing else. A nice foggy day in December arrived, so I started taking photos of the forest with my camera. The initial shots were “ok” but many images contained too much clutter like brush and broken limbs. After hiking around for a few hours and searching the forest to find an uncluttered stand of trees, I finally had my composition. I slowly walked to the left and right until I found a spot that had a minimum number of trees that overlapped each other. At that point, I set my camera on my tripod and took a horizontal composition and a vertical composition. I liked the horizontal photo best, so I cropped it in Photoshop to further simplify the photograph. It isn’t perfect and I think there is still room for improvement, but I like its simplicity.

The second set of examples I have to show how simplifying your composition can help the image are the dock cleat photos. The first photo was taken while standing up with a 24-120mm lens. I saw the red rope and thought it would make a nice photo, so I tried composing the cleat at a 45 degree angle to add drama, but in the end, the photo doesn’t really work. So, I thought about how to further simplify the composition and I immediately decided to eliminate the dock all together.

I attached an 80-200 f2.8 lens and laid my camera down on the dock. I shot with an aperture of f3.2 to make sure the background boats were completely blown out of focus. Now you can see the loops of the dock line as they zigzag around the cleat. The photo illustrates the simple beauty of a modern tool.

Digital Tidbits: Calibrate Your Monitor
One of the most frequent complaints I hear in digital photography is “my prints never match my computer monitor!” I hear this in just about every single workshop I lead, whether it is for Photoshop or digital SLRs or Travel Photography. I find that all across this beautiful country of ours, people are frustrated with their prints.

Take heart my friends, it doesn’t have to be this way! There is a very simple solution that will greatly improve your prints whether you are printing at home or printing at the local lab. The answer to most (not all) of your frustrations is to calibrate your computer monitor. This simple act will solve 90% of all your color problems and will save you countless hours of headache.

One frequent comment that people make to me is that get good results printing on their home printer, but bad results printing at the local lab. When I ask a few more questions, I find that these individuals have run enough tests at home to know how their printer will respond. For example, they might know that the printer will render everything a little bit redder than they see on the screen, so they add a little blue color correction to all their photos to compensate. They are managing their colors the hard way – manually!

The best way to manage your colors is to calibrate your monitor to a known standard. This way, when you see a certain shade of blue on the screen, you know that it is the same blue as everyone else should see on their monitors and their printers. Calibrating your monitor with a calibration tool ensures that all colors, not just blue, are showing at the correct brightness and hue.

A good monitor calibration kit will help you adjust your monitor’s brightness and contrast while also creating a new “profile” for the colors. This profile is specific to your monitor and is loaded every time you fire up your computer. The computer uses this profile to tell the monitor how to display the colors accurately. These profiles are actually called “ICC Profiles” and are named after the International Color Consortium (www.color.org). When you create the new profile, the colors are based on an international standard. As long as everyone uses this standard, then we can be pretty confident that your colors will match my colors and the lab’s colors.

Since all monitors slowly degrade over time, it is important to recalibrate your monitor on a regular basis. I recommend recalibrating about once every two to three weeks. Calibration works best if your monitor has both brightness and contrast controls. It also works on LCD and CRT displays. Laptops are notoriously hard to calibrate properly, so I don’t recommend doing any of your high-end Photoshop work on a laptop screen.

There are a number of different types of calibration tools available and all are extremely easy to use. There are “standard” and “pro” versions that each offer different levels of control. If you are getting into color management for the first time, then I recommend buying a “standard” version and save a few hundred dollars in the process. Most calibration tools cost in the neighborhood of $150 - $300 and are more than worth the price for the benefit they provide. I personally like the Monaco Optix XR system (from X-Rite Photo, www.xritephoto.com), but also have lots of praise for the Gretag MacBeth Eye-One Display 2 (www.i1color.com). Both of these tools will greatly enhance your color accuracy and will solve many of your color management issues.

Workshop Updates:

Photoshop Workshops
We have a number of Photoshop workshops scheduled for 2006 in the Seattle area as well as in many major cities throughout the USA. Our next workshop is scheduled for 1/13 – 1/14 in Seattle, WA. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we have created an additional Photoshop workshop called "Photoshop III". Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. Digital workflow will be offered in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR in January and February as well as later in the year. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Start planning now to attend one of our 2006 Art of Travel workshops. We'll hold them in two beautiful locations. The first workshop will be held in St. Croix from May 31st - June 4th. We'll be discovering the beautiful landscapes and people of the Virgin Islands while learning the art and craft of digital photography. This workshop will be run in conjunction with the Nikonians (see below).

The second Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have teamed up with The Nikonians again for 2006. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. Later in the year we'll be covering the Nikon D200 camera system. Our workshops will be:
- Photoshop for Photographers
- Nikon Capture
- Nikon D70
- iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:
Feb 16-19 Las Vegas
Mar 2-5 Los Angeles
Mar 9-12 San Francisco
Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC
TBD: Chicago area
TBD: Phoenix

Also, we'll be offering an exciting Travel Photography workshop in St. Croix (May 31st - June 4th, 2006) as part of the Nikonians Masters Photography Program Certification.

Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.greaterphoto.com

Also, head to our website for additional information: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. Our Seattle first Seattle iTTL date is 1/28/06 and our Portland date is 2/4/06. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. I enjoy hearing of your photographic adventures, so keep those emails coming!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Composition Photos (see text)


































December 2005 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - December 2005

Greetings everyone and Happy Holidays! I hope your Thanksgiving was full of great food and great family and I hope that your Christmas season will be full of joy.

Our East Coast series of workshops were a great success. Almost every one of our sessions sold out in Washington DC, Toronto, New York and Boston. The people we met on the trip were all fantastic and I greatly appreciated their hospitality as this "West Coaster" invaded their home towns.

Over the next few months we'll be here in the Pacific Northwest leading workshops in Seattle and Portland while also continuing to build new and exciting workshop topics for 2006. I'll also be photographing a few portrait sessions and weddings just to keep things busy! Additionally, we'll start producing books and DVD training videos on topics that will include Digital Portraiture, Studio Setup, Nikon D70, iTTL flash system, Nikon D2X, etc. We'll start creating these items in December for distribution starting "sometime" in 2006. You know how book projects go - they always take longer than you expect!

Our workshop schedule for 2006 is just about completely firmed up. In addition to our line of new workshops in the Pacific Northwest, we'll also be running a number of workshops in partnership with the Nikonians ( www.nikonians.org ). We'll be leading workshops in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, New York, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, St. Croix, Philadelphia, Vancouver BC, Seattle, and Washington DC. Whew! It's going to be a busy year. The scheduled dates will be posted here ( www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html ).

Finally, since Christmas is coming up, we have created gift certificates for our workshops that you can purchase and give to your significant other (or anyone else who you think "needs" a photo workshop). Simply contact us and we'll give you the details on how to send a certificate to your recipient. They can then redeem it whenever they are ready to attend one of our workshops!

Photo Techniques: Composition and Persistence

Last Spring, I was taking some photos in the Columbia River Gorge in NW Oregon and was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of green foliage. There were ferns, flowers, trees and moss and just about everything was a subtle variation of green. My goal was to try and photograph something that said "Vibrant Green Plant", but I found that I had to work pretty hard to finally get a composition that worked. As you can see in my photo examples, I took a number of shots until I felt I had the best composition. The first shot I took was a bit too cluttered and the background was chaotic. Shot number two is better, but still had some elements that distracted from the main subject. The third picture shows the photo just the way I like it and includes three very important compositional elements that I generally try to follow in my photography.

Here are those elements:
1. Rule of Thirds. Following this simple rule can dramatically transform a ho-hum photo into a masterpiece. The key is to divide your image into three equal sections and then place your subject along one of the intersections of the third lines. Look at the last fern photo here and you can see that we have key elements of the fern at intersections of the third lines. Specifically, the water droplet is at the intersection of the right third line and the top third line. The first two shots don't have a definite alignment and aren't as strong. The rule of thirds technique works for just about everything you photograph whether they are ferns, people, mountains, flowers or cows.

2. Leading Lines (S-curves and Diagonals). Work hard to try and include a diagonal line or a nice s-curve into your photograph. This will help guide your viewer's eyes through the composition and is a pleasing touch that brings your photos to a higher level. You can see in each of the examples here, there is a strong diagonal element, but it wasn't until the last photo where it became strongest. I composed the last shot so the stem of the fern went from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. The diagonal in your photograph can be the branch of a tree or a river flowing through the valley. When I'm taking photographs of people, I still work hard to include some type of diagonal. Many times, I imply a diagonal by having two people look at each other from separate corners of the photograph.

3. Clean backgrounds. Perhaps the most often overlooked portion of your photograph is the background. Sometimes when we are composing our photo, we develop tunnel vision and only look at the subject. It isn't until we get back to the editing table that we realize there is something in the background that really distracts from the main subject. The three photos here show a progression from a cluttered background to a simple background. The first photo has dead leaves and dark areas in the background. The second photo is better, but it still has part of another fern that distracts the eye from the subject. Finally, after moving my tripod around and trying another composition I was able to make the background very clean and simple.

For this tutorial, I only included three photographs of many that I took on that day. Each photo required a new tripod setup a new exposure reading and a number of other fine-tune adjustments. It required a lot of persistence to finally get an image I was happy with, but I'm pleased with the final result. I find that for most of my nature and landscape shots I frequently try multiple compositions until I find something I like.

I encourage you to also keep trying until everything comes together. Slow down, set up your tripod and try a few compositions. Once you've followed these rules, you'll find they apply to just about all of your photography. Now get outside and take some pictures!

Digital Tidbits: Keeping Images Safe in the Field

One of my biggest fears as a professional photographer is losing my photos during or after my photo session. Just about every photographer has their own horror story of losing their pictures and the havoc that ensued. For most of us, this kind of thing only happens once because we simply cannot afford to ever let it happen again. There is good news for us digital photographers, and the news is that we have a lot of portable data storage options available to us at relatively low prices. Losing your shots in this day and age is something that doesn't have to plague us any longer!

One of the first things we need to do as digital photographers is to develop a system for how we are going to manage our cameras in the field. I urge you to determine an image management plan for your photography right away. Here is my system for ensuring that I never mess up or lose my pictures:

1. Never delete photos from the flash card during the shoot. I follow this rule when I'm photographing weddings or important events where it would be a major disaster to lose "the shot." I have broken this rule in the past and end up getting frustrated because I chose the wrong photo to delete. In this scenario, I have to recover the deleted file from the memory card later at my office which costs me lost time and more frustration.

2. When the memory card is full, remove it from the camera and store it backwards in the storage pouch. I keep all my cards in a small storage pouch that I bought at a discount store for $3.99. It holds six memory cards and I keep empty cards with the label facing out and full cards with the label facing in. That way, I can quickly see what cards are ok to grab for the next series of photos. Lots of companies sell these products such as Lowe Pro, Think Tank and Case Logic.

3. Backup photos in the field. This is a critical step for important photo shoots. I want to make sure I have my photos stored in at least two places at all times, so I force myself to backup my shots while I'm on location. My process is very simple, but deliberate. First, I download my memory cards to a portable hard drive. There are a lot of options these days and I recommend something in the 40GB to 80GB range. I purchased mine knowing that I shoot about 350 pictures a day when traveling. If I'm leaving for a week, then I need seven days of storage. Seven days times 350 photos per day is about 2500 photos. File sizes for each photo can vary between 3MB per image to more than 30MB per image depending on what camera and format I'm shooting. At just 3MB per image, you'll need at least 22GB of storage for those 2500 shots. Second, I copy all the downloaded files to a second drive or to CD/DVD. Either way will work. Now, my pictures are backed up on two separate systems. The actual products I like are made by Western Digital, Epson (P2000, P4000) and Nikon (Coolwalker). Prices are dropping every day, so you have no excuse for not backing up your files.

4. Reformat cards - don't just delete images. As soon as I've made sure that my photos are backed up on two independent drives, then I reformat my memory cards in the camera. I choose to reformat rather than "delete all images" because I feel it consistently does a better job of opening up all the memory. There have been times when I've tried to delete the images, and something happened that didn't clear out all the shots. Then, the next time I downloaded that card, I had shots taken previously as well as shots from the current event. Reformatting is almost always better than deleting.

5. Store each backup in a separate location. I generally try to keep my backup disks in different spots when I'm traveling. I do this just in case I lose one of my bags or someone steals a bag. For example, I'll keep one set of backup disks in my brief case and the second set of backups in my camera bag.

6. Once back at the office, backup all files once again. After the photo shoot is over and I am at the office, I make sure that my photos are backed up to three separate storage locations. The first location is my office computer system. The second location is on a series of external hard drives. The data on these portable drives is a duplicate of my computer files so that when my computer dies, I still have all my data backed up on separate drives. Finally, I have CD/DVD backups of all my images.

Don't get lazy with your image management. Murphy's Law has a way of creeping into our work at the least desirable moments. Since I know that something will fail when I least expect it, I force myself to follow these rules for every single shoot. Having a consistent method that I follow in the field gives me extra insurance that my shots will make it home safe and sound.

Workshop Updates:
Portrait Photography Workshop
Our Portrait Photography workshops are a great way to learn lighting and posing techniques! We provide a great training environment and also have ample time to practice and create. Whether you want to be able to take better photos of your children or you want learn excellent professional techniques, this workshop is where you need to be. We'll cover lots of topics such as lighting methods, flash, reflectors, posing and gear. Check out more information at www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html. The next workshop will be held on December 9/10 in Seattle, WA.

The Art of Travel Workshops
Start planning now to attend one of our 2006 Art of Travel workshops. We'll hold them in two beautiful locations. The first workshop will be held in St. Croix from May 31st - June 4th. We'll be discovering the beautiful landscapes and people of the Virgin Islands while learning the art and craft of digital photography. This workshop will be run in conjunction with the Nikonians (see below).

The second Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st - 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We'll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (http://www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have teamed up with The Nikonians again for 2006. We'll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. Our workshops will be: Photoshop for Photographers, Nikon Capture, Nikon D70 and iTTL Flash system. Later in the year we'll be covering the Nikon D200 camera system. The dates and cities will be:

Feb 16-19 Las Vegas
Feb 23-27 Phoenix
Mar 2-5 Los Angeles
Mar 9-12 San Francisco
Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
May 31-Jun 4 St. Croix
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC
TBD: Chicago area

Also, we'll be offering an exciting workshop in St. Croix (May 31st - June 4th, 2006) as part of the Nikonians Masters Photography Program Certification. More details will be posted soon.

Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html . Note that we are still setting up quite a few of the details between the Nikonians website and our website, so be please patient as we get links and signup information posted.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
We've finished up our Photoshop workshops for 2005 and have added many more for 2006. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we have created an additional photoshop workshop called "Photoshop III" - pretty neat title, eh? Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don't spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great "nuts and bolts" tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. I guarantee you'll enjoy this day. Go here for more details: http://www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon's flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: http://www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Thanks:
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your referrals. Many people have signed up based on word-of-mouth contact from you and I want you to know how much I truly appreciate your kind words.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





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Shutter Speed Photos (see text)






10/5/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - October 5, 2005

Greetings folks. We have just left for the East coast of the USA to lead digital photography workshops in Washington D.C., Boston, Toronto and New York city. We'll be on the road for a month, and I'm greatly looking forward to meeting a new group of enthusiastic photographers. These workshops will take place through the month of October and then we'll be back in the Northwest on October 25th - just in time for the Art of Travel Photography workshop in Oregon's beautiful Columbia River Gorge!

We've developed our schedule for 2006 and have also made some changes to the last months of 2005. Most notably, we've added two new camera systems to our digital workshops - the Nikon D2X/D2Hs and the Nikon D50. Additionally, we've added quite a few Digital Workflow workshops to help all of you sort, file, rename, print and manage the juggernaut of digital photographs you've taken. Our series of Photoshop workshops has also expanded with the addition of Photoshop Level III. It is specifically aimed at high end print making and black and white conversions! 2006 will also have us doing much more with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org), including many more cities throughout the USA and possibly a few more internationally. I was hoping to have the dates and locations pinned down by the time I sent this newsletter, but we still have some details to work out the Nikonians group. Finally, we've added an exciting new location for our Art of Travel workshops. We're teaming with a lodge in Washington State's North Cascades to offer a 4-day Art of Travel workshop that will also include an entire series on Digital Workflow. All the details for these workshops are shown down below.

2006 is going to be an exciting year!

Photo Techniques: Slow Down Your Shutter Speed
A few weeks ago I went to the local state fair to enjoy the sights, eat a few scones and of course, take some photographs. I had a great time and it was fun to get back into "country" mode again after spending so much time in the city. There was a Pioneer Days section where children have the opportunity to make cheese and grind wheat. I took a few pictures of children working with the local staff, and then looked up to see a windmill spinning away in the evening breeze against a deep blue sky. It looked to be a great photograph, so I opened up the aperture on my lens to f5.6 in order to get a pretty fast shutter speed in order to stop the motion of windmill. As I kept shooting pictures, I began to wonder what it would look like if I took the same picture, but blurred the windmill a bit.

So, I stopped the lens down to about f16 which gave me a shutter speed of approximately 1/15th of a second. At this shutter speed you can clearly start to see the blades blurring a bit and showing a nice sense of motion. The effect of this is that it shows much more movement and adds a great dynamic to the scene. There are lots of times when you want to keep motion blur to an absolute minimum, such as when you are photographing sports scenes or certain action shots. However, forcing yourself to try to include motion blur and make it look good is an artform unto itself.

Usually, when photographing a scene where you are going to include motion blur, you need to always have something else in the picture that is sharp and in focus. If you don't do this, then the results of your efforts will all look like a big mistake. You can try to be as artsy as you want, but if everything is blurry, then people will just assume your technique wasn't very good. To get around this, use a tripod for scenes like this windmill shot so that the tower is sharp, but the windmill is blurry. For the shots like the cyclists (shown here), pan your camera along with them so the background is blurred but they are in focus. Notice how the wheels are blurred and the background is blurred, but the riders are in focus - that's a good thing and makes the picture work. Finally, look at the photograph of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill. The water is nicely blurred, but the building and surrounding trees are sharp. This photograph was taken with a one second exposure.

Here are some general rules of thumb for appropriate shutter speeds used to capture motion blur:
1. Spinning windmills - 1/15 second
2. Sprinting soccer or football player - 1/30 second
3. Airplane propeller - 1/60 ~ 1/250 second
4. Blurred background with bicyclists - 1/60 second
5. People walking - 1/4 second
6. Running dog - 1/30 ~ 1/60 second
7. Baseball batter's swing - 1/125 ~ 1/250 second
8. Flowing water in a waterfall - 1 second ~ 5 seconds

Digital Tidbits: Where You Should Focus Your Energy

There are no silver bullets in digital photography and there is no such thing as a free lunch. There isn't a button that exists on you camera that allows all of our pictures to come out perfectly. The truth is that consistently getting great photographs take a lot of hard work. Even more than that, making great pictures every day, every week and every year, takes a tremendous amount of dedication. You have to keep perfecting your craft and put effort into it every single day. So, since you know that you have to put alot of effort into creating beautiful images, where should you focus your time and energy?

Anyone who's taken a workshop from me knows that I focus a significant amount of my energy on taking the picture correctly in the camera. With the advent of so many computer programs out there that will help you fix mistakes later in the computer, it is easy for us all to get lazy and say "I'll just fix it later in Photoshop." I can't emphasize enough how this lazy method will come back to haunt you later.

The more workshops I teach, the more I find that many photographers are purposly (or even unknowingly) underexposing their pictures in the camera, and then fixing them later in Photoshop. This approach works to a certain extent, until you realize that after your most recent vacation to New Zealand, you have 2,000 images that need to be fixed. Soon, you start to calculate that in order to fix them, that each photo will take a about 1 minute each. Multiply that out, and you have 2,000 minutes of Photoshop time. That's 33 hours! If you work for a living in Corporate America, that means you have about one hour each evening to work on this. It's going to take you a month just to get through one trip's photos!

Now, imagine if you had just taken the extra ten or fifteen seconds before you took the picture to set up your camera properly. Imagine if all of your shots had the correct exposure, white balance, correct color mode and focus. Imagine if you could just send your photos to the printer when you got home rather than adjusting each of them in Photoshop. This is possible if you focus your energy on learning your camera rather than learning the latest and greatest computer software. So, specifically, what do I suggest you learn?

In order of importance, I recommend that you study and learn the following topics:
1. Exposure - This is all about brightness control and has absolutely nothing to do with color management (white balance). Shutter speed and aperture both imact your photograph in different ways. Work to understand how aperture impacts depth of field and shutter speed impacts motion or blur.
2. White Balance - Understanding and using white balance properly will help you make a quantum leap forward in the "look" of your photos. Most people like to let their camera choose the white balance for them by setting the camera for "Auto" white balance. More often than not, the camera isn't able to nail the white balance and your photos end up too blue.
3. Focusing System - I find that many people do not use their camera's auto focus systems properly. Most new digital cameras have multiple auto focus regions and you can select which one is active. Make sure that you know which focus region is active, and then make sure that you are pointing that region at your subject. Once you have locked your focus on the subject by half-depressing your shutter release button, then you can recompose and take the photograph.
3. Composition - This is the artistic side of taking photographs. I find that a great way to learn about composition is to look at other photographs you like. Break those photos down to their basic elements and study where the photographer placed each element in the scene. For example, is the foreground close to the camera or far away? Is the subject off center? Is there an implied line through the photo that leads your eye into the scene. Once you have done a bit of study, then go out and take some pictures to try and duplicate those results.

Ok, now go out and take some pictures. In fact, take pictures every day - even if it is raining or you are tired or nothing seems photographically interesting. You can't expect to improve unless you keep at it and try every day.

Workshop Updates:
The Art of Travel Workshops
The next Art of Travel workshop is scheduled for October 28th and 29th in the Columbia River Gorge and there are still seats available. This beautiful location in NW Oregon is a fantastic area to practice your outdoor and travel photography. It is a two-day event and is targeted towards those of you who want to create beautiful, artistic images of your travels. We will cover many topics around fundamentally understanding what elements need to combine to creating great pictures. The Columbia Gorge offers so any inspiring photographic subjects that it is hard not to come away from this session with beautiful photographs. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
One of the biggest requests we get for new workshops is how to manage the digital workflow. For 2006, we have created a workshop that will show you how to manage your monitor color, print color, file organization, image backups, archiving, color space, automating your software, etc. These classes will get you well on your way to managing the thousands of photographs you own as well as understanding how to prepare them for output, whether that be prints or web or professional client. Dates are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/workshops.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
These continue to be very popular workshops and we'll continue to run these for 2006. We offer two workshops for people who really want to learn this camera - a Level I workshop and an advanced D70 workshop. Updated Schedules are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Portrait Photography Workshop
Many of you have requested a portrait and studio photography workshop, so we have designed one that will get your creative juices flowing! Whether you just want to be able to take better photos of your children or you want learn some really great techniques as a pro, this workshop is where you need to be. We'll cover lots of topics such as lighting methods, flash, reflectors, posing and gear. Details are posted at www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html. The next workshops will be held on November 18-19 in Portland/Vancouver and then December 9th/10th in Seattle. We'll be adding more cities and dates for 2006 soon.

Nikonians Workshops
We are currently on the East Coast for the entire month of October leading workshops in Boston, New York, Washington DC and Toronto. Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html. 2006 will be a great year for more Nikonians workshops in additional cities. Look for dates to be posted soon.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
We've finished up our Photoshop workshops for 2005 and will be adding more for 2006. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. In addition to our Level I and Level II workshops, we've added a new Photoshop III workshop that will focus more on print making and Black and White conversions. www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

D2X/D2H Workshops
New for 2006 are the D2 series workshops. These will be two day learning events aimed at helping D2 owners be able to truly master their cameras. Details will be posted soon at www.outthereimages.com/workshops.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Nikon Gear for sale:
Nikon 300mm f/4.0 lens AF-D. Lens is in excellent condition. Comes with Front 81A filter as well as internal 39mm filter. Price is $425.

Tokina 20-35 f/2.8 AT-X lens. Nikon mount. This is a great lens that is in excellent condition. I've taken some of my best pictures with it. Price is $295.

Send me an email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you are interested or would like to see pictures of the gear.

Thanks:
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your referrals. Many people have signed up based on word-of-mouth contact from you and I want you to know how much I truly appreciate your kind words.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





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Chinese Dragon Competition (see text)






Oceanside White Balance Pictures
Shade WB


Incandescent WB.


Sunny WB.


Sunny WB.


9/9/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - September 9, 2005

Greetings folks. We've had an incredibly busy summer and are getting settled again for this Fall. The kids are headed off to school and the leaves are starting to turn colors. I love this time of year and very much enjoy taking great photographs during this season of change. Our new base of operations is in Gig Harbor, Washington and it is just gorgeous here. The boats on the harbor make for great travel shots and the local area is awash in green trees and lush vegetation. It is a photographer's paradise.

I hope you are out taking pictures every day. Truly, the only way to improve your craft is to practice, practice, practice.

A general note about our workshops for 2006. We are in the process of putting together our schedule right now. There are lots of requests for new workshops on Digital Workflow, Photoshop, Printing Methods, Portrait photography, Nikon D2X and D2H and Black and White photography. Additionally, we'll be trying hard to bring these workshops to many new locations throughout the USA. Look for more workshops in the Mid-west, East coast and West coast. It's going to be another great year!

Photo Techniques: No Fear and a Wide Angle Lens
While leading some workshops in San Francisco last month, I headed out to grab a bite to eat in China Town. As I meandered through the streets looking for a good restaurant, I heard a drum beating and then lots of people cheering somewhere in the distance. I knew something was up, so I started on a dead run towards the sound. As I got nearer, I saw a huge crowd of people gathered in the middle of the street watching a Chinese Dragon competition. I quickly jumped up on a trash can to get above the people to see what was going on. I took out my camera and began shooting the dragon competition with a telephoto lens. I quickly decided that my shots weren't good enough, so I jumped down and tried to push my way closer to the action. However, the crowd was pretty big, and getting closer was very difficult.

I knew in my head that the shot that I wanted was a wide angle picture of a dragon jumping up and down right in front of my camera. The only way to make that happen was to crawl between the people on my hands and knees! So, I did. I got down on the ground and crawled through the crowd until I was right up front. Soon, I was standing next to the drummers and the competitors. I attached my 12-24mm lens and zoomed out to 12mm. Then, I set my camera on Continuous Drive so I could shoot 3 frames per second. Next, I switched my auto focus to Continuous so I could track the dragons as they leapt into the air and moved around. I set my metering system to Matrix, and then dialed in some positive exposure compensation (between +0.3 and +1.0 depending on the composition) for the white dragons. Then, I started shooting as fast as I could.

The drums and cymbals were almost unbearably loud and I remember trying to cover my right ear with my shoulder while snapping pics. As I walked around, I varied my position from standing to kneeling in order to get different perspectives. I walked up to lots of the people who were performing and snapped their pictures as well. Because everyone was in a festive mood, getting pictures and close-ups of people was very easy. All the performers were enthusiastic about posing and smiling and having a great time.

The real photo technique here mostly has to do with letting my fears go by the wayside so I could push forward through the crowd to get the shot. If I just stood in the background shooting photos, then I never would have captured the emotion or the excitement of the celebration. The secondary photo technique here was using a wide angle lens and getting down low to grab a new perspective. Forcing myself to do something that was a little uncomfortable at first, definitely made for better photos in the long run! (see the pictures at www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html).

Digital Tidbits: Creative use of White Balance
In previous newsletters I have talked about how to set your white balance correctly so that your digital camera records the colors properly (see previous newsletters here: www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html). I want to take a moment to show you how to use your white balance controls creatively to get some uncommon and very artistic results. To see pictures that go along with this text, head to www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html.

A few weeks ago I was leading some workshops in Oceanside California, just outside of San Diego. One evening, I headed out to the harbor to take some night shots of the area. As the sun set, the sky turned dark purple and I took a few interesting shots of the boats in the bay. But it wasn't until long after the sun set that my shots started taking on an other-worldly look.

There was a low overcast in the sky, so all of the city street lights cast interesting colors that were reflected back onto the landscape. I set up my digital camera (Nikon D70) and started taking some 15 second and 30 second exposures of the sky and the palm trees. I found that choosing different white balance settings created some very interesting effects. For example, I chose "incandescent" white balance, then I chose "shady" white balance then I chose "sunny" white balance. Each of the settings dramatically changed the feel and look of the night photos.

As time went on, I started to incorporate more of the scene into my shots. For example, I took some shots when cars would be going by, or I had someone stand in the scene to give the picture a sense of scale. In all, I spent about an hour taking various pictures - the whole time just having a ball trying different things. The great thing about digital was that I could instantly see the results of my efforts and then try something new for different results.

Which white balance setting was "right"? None of them and all of them. The truth is that each of my shots was an artistic interpretation of the scene, so I gave myself freedom to mix it up. Sometimes, doing the wrong thing photographically leads to a better result. Experimentation always leads to new and creative ways of photographing your scene.

Workshop Updates:
The Art of Travel Workshops
The next Art of Travel workshop is scheduled for October 28th and 29th in the Columbia River Gorge. This beautiful location in NW Oregon is a fantastic area to practice your outdoor and travel photography. It is a two-day event and is targeted towards those of you who want to create beautiful, artistic images of your travels. We will cover many topics around fundamentally understanding what elements need to combine to creating great pictures. The Columbia Gorge offers so any inspiring photographic subjects that it is hard not to come away from this session with beautiful photographs. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
These continue to be our most popular workshops and now that Nikon has been selling their new D70s, we'll continue to run these for 2006. Next week's workshop still has seats available, so let us know if you'd like to sign up by sending an email to: mike@outthereimages.com. Updated Schedules are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Portrait Photography Workshop
Many of you have requested a portrait and studio photography workshop, so we have designed one that will get your creative juices flowing! Whether you just want to be able to take better photos of your children or you want learn some really great techniques as a pro, this workshop is where you need to be. We'll cover lots of topics such as lighting methods, flash, reflectors, posing and gear. The web page is currently being constructed right now, but will have all the details posted soon at www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html. The workshop will be held on November 18-19 in Portland/Vancouver. We'll be adding more cities and dates for 2006 soon.

Nikonians Workshops
The summer Nikonians workshops throughout the Western states were a huge success. We had a great time meeting so many of you out on the road, that we'll be scheduling many more for 2006. We'll be headed out to the East Coast for the entire month of October leading workshops in Boston, New York, Washington DC and Toronto. Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
We've finished up our Photoshop workshops for 2005 and will be adding many more for 2006. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we are working on creating up to two more Photoshop workshops: Photoshop III and Black & White conversions with printing. www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Nikon Gear for sale:
Nikon 300mm f/4.0 lens AF-D. Lens is in excellent condition. Comes with Front 81A filter as well as internal 39mm filter. Price is $425.

Tokina 20-35 f/2.8 AT-X lens. Nikon mount. This is a great lens that is in excellent condition. I've taken some of my best pictures with it. Price is $295.

Send me an email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you are interested or would like to see pictures of the gear.

Thanks:
As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your referrals. Many people have signed up based on word-of-mouth contact from you and I want you to know how much I truly appreciate your kind words.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Tall Ship (see text)






Brightness/Contrast Control Window.



Histogram Shifting (Moving towards clipped highlights).


Levels Control Window.


7/2/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - July 2nd, 2005

Greetings folks. As of yesterday, our move to Gig Harbor is complete and I can now take a few days to relax over the July 4th holiday. Of course, my version of relaxing means that I'm up at 4:00 am to go take some pictures! So, this morning I went out to the Tacoma, Washington waterfront to take pictures of the Tall Ships that are in town for Independence Day. It was quite a stunning sight to watch the sun rise as the ship's masts towered in the distance. Those giant ships moored against the harbor wall reminded me of the amazing freedoms we have here in the USA. It is so wonderful to live in a country that allows us to freely pursue our dreams - to go wherever we want to go - to do whatever we want to do. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to live in this nation and am looking forward to more celebration this coming Monday.

One quick note about our move to Gig Harbor. Many people who have attended our workshops have asked if we will still be leading workshops in their home city and the answer is "YES". We will still be hosting workshops in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix and lots of other locations throughout the USA. We'll keep you posted with new dates and locations as we schedule them.

Photo Techniques: Be prepared!
I had already planned to write this month's column on being prepared, so this morning's photo adventure with the Tall Ships gave me some good fodder to talk about. Today's experience really reinforced my mantra of always being prepared. I knew that the Tall Ships were coming to town and that I wanted to get some dramatic shots of these classic beauties, so I did a little research. I figured out where they were going to be moored (Thea Foss Waterway), which direction to take the pics to maximize the light (from the East side at sunrise), exactly what time the sun would rise (5:18am) and which roads to take to get there (Google Maps). Why did I go through all this trouble just to get some shots of big boats? Because I wanted the shots to be the very best possible and because I am a professional - this is my job! With the Internet, all my research only took about 5 minutes last night, but made a huge impact on my final images.

I know that at the beginning of civil twilight (i.e. really super early in the morning) I can always get skies that are absolutely beautiful purple/blue in color. So, checking the US Navy web site, I found that civil twilight began at 4:39am today. This meant that I had to be in position a few minutes before then in order to set up my tripod and camera. I left the house very early and made it to the Tacoma waterfront in time for the sky to start turning an amazing shade of purple/blue. I began taking pictures and didn't stop until just after sunrise at about 5:30am. Once the sun rises, there are literally only a couple minutes of light that are good enough for photographs. You have to move fast, because after the sun rises too far, then light just becomes too harsh for decent pictures. Since I was in the right spot at the right time, I got some amazing pictures today.

However, while I was there taking pictures, a number of other photographers showed up who weren't prepared! One guy pulled up before sunrise, snapped a couple pictures without a tripod and drove off. His shots were all blurry. Another guy pulled up right after sunrise with a 4"x5" Linhof Technica view camera - you know, the big Ansel Adams type camera with a black hood over the top. He jumped out of his car and set up as fast as he could, but in the few minutes it took him to set up, the light had gone from "incredible" to "unusable". He didn't get any usable pictures because he didn't even take a single frame! A third person pulled up well after the sunrise and started snapping away. His shots have far too much contrast and will have deep dark shadows and blown out highlights.

I mention all these examples to show that with a little bit of preparation, I was able to be in the right place at the right time and get some great pictures. (They are posted at www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html). Some people will say that I was lucky because the light was just right or because I just happened to be standing in the right spot. However, now you know that I wasn't lucky - I was prepared. I encourage all of you to prepare a little bit in advance so that luck will find its way to you.

Here are the web sites I used for my research:
Sunrise/Sunset times: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html
Map software: http://maps.google.com
Tall Ships Info: http://www.tallshipstacoma.com/

Digital Tidbits: Don't use Contrast and Brightness in Photoshop
A lot of times when we take a photo and then open it up in Photoshop, we notice right away that it is a little bit too dark. One of the quickest and easiest tools to use is the Brightness/Contrast sliders in Photoshop. A quick adjustment of the "brightness" slider will brighten up the image and then a quick nudge to the "contrast" slider seems to give it the punch it needs. Easy, right? Well, like most things in life, there's the easy way to solve a problem, and then there's the better way to solve a problem.

Using the Brightness/Contrast adjustment tool is the easy way, but it is far from the best. Actually, a very good argument can be made that this tool does more harm than good. The reason why, is that all this tool does is shift around the brightness of the picture. In fact, by moving the sliders, all you are doing is clipping highlights. By clipping I mean that you are causing the areas that are already bright, to become even brighter so that when you go to print the image, all you'll get are white blotchy areas. Then, by adjusting the contrast slider, all you are doing is spreading out the brightest and darkest regions so they are more extreme. In other words, you clip both the highlights and the shadows so you get white blotchy areas and black blotchy areas - sounds like your picture just developed a bad case of acne!

The better way to adjust your brightness and contrast is to use the Levels adjustment tool instead. The middle slider is used to lighten or darken the overall image without clipping any of the image. The highlight and shadow sliders on the left and right are used to reset your bright point and your dark point in the picture. Levels is a much more sophisticated tool to use because you have much more control over the final output. In Photoshop, to pull up the levels control window, click Image --> Adjustments --> Levels. Adjust the right slider (highlights) so it is just under the right-most area of the histogram. Adjust the left slider (shadows) so that it is just under the left-most area of the histogram. Then, set the middle slider so you are happy with the overall brightness.

Sometimes, using the Photoshop "auto levels" command does a good job too. To activate this tool, just hold down these keys on your keyboard simultaneously: Shift + Ctrl + L. If you like the results, great! Just leave it. If you don't like the results, then undo it and then do your own levels adjustment.

I teach a lot more image adjustment techniques using Levels and Curves in the Photoshop for Photographers Workshops shown below.

Workshop Updates:
Special Nikon D70 Workshop Session
The D70 workshops continue to be our best sellers. In fact, we've had so much demand that we scheduled a last minute workshop for next weekend, July 8th and 9th, in Seattle. We will hold two sessions - D70 Level I on Friday July 8th and Advanced D70 on Saturday July 9th. There are still a few positions open, so if you want sign up, send me an email (mike@outthereimages.com) and I'll get right back to you with more information. We'll also be posting more workshops for 2006 very soon, so let your friends know! www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

New Workshops in the works
We are putting together many new workshops for later this year and for 2006. These will cover topics such as Portrait Photography, Studio Lighting, Digital Workflow, Calibration and Digital Printing Methods. Stay tuned for updates throughout this Summer and Fall.

Nikonians Workshops
The Nikonians workshops just keep getting better and better. In fact, almost all of our locations throughout the USA are sold out. There are still a few spots open however, so sign up quickly if you want to get a seat. Remaining locations are Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, Toronto Canada, and Boston. Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html. There is also a link on this page for those who want to sign up.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you've ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon's SB600 and SB800 flashes. You'll never again have to struggle with these flashes. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
We've added more Photoshop workshops for later this year and will be adding many more for 2006. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we are working on creating up to two more Photoshop workshops: Photoshop III and Black and White printing. Details will be posted soon. www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Our Art of Travel workshops are based in either the Columbia River Gorge or in Gig Harbor, Washington. These two-day events are targeted towards those of you who want to create artistic images and want to better understand what elements help make great pictures. Both the Columbia Gorge and Gig Harbor offer so any inspiring photographic subjects that it is hard not to come away from these sessions with beautiful photographs. Go here for the updated schedule: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you 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, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Lens for sale: I'm selling a lens that I no longer use. Tokina 20-35 f/2.8 AT-X lens. Nikon mount. This is a great lens that is in excellent condition. I've taken some of my best pictures with it. Price is $295. Send me an email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you are interested or would like to see a picture.

As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help. Also, I just wanted to say thank you for all of your referrals. Many people have signed up based on word-of-mouth contact from you and I want you to know how much I truly appreciate your kind words.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





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Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Catch light examples (see text)


Here's with fill flash.



Here's with reflector.


Here's with multiple flashes and reflector.


5/26/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - May 26th 2005

Greetings folks! Welcome to the May 2005 newsletter from Out There Images. I truly appreciate your business and referrals to friends, family and colleagues. I can honestly say that I have never had this much fun in all my life. I love this job!

We've just come off a big series of workshops in Seattle and are preparing for a summer full of workshops in Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Additionally, we are preparing for a new workshop called "Digital Portrait Photography" that should be ready to go for this Fall and Winter (see below for details).

My wife and I are also getting ready to move our office and our family from Vancouver, Washington to Gig Harbor, Washington. It is a move that we are really looking forward to and we are excited to get back to our home town. Note that during this move we will still be leading the very best digital photography workshops and will be conducting business as usual! This move will be exciting (and stressful), but we're up for it and could really use your thoughts and prayers as we head down this path.

Photo Techniques: Getting That Glimmer in The Eye
We all know that great portrait photographers all over the world work hard to achieve great lighting and a great facial expression. But, what I bet you didn't know was that all portraitists also work very hard at creating a nice glimmer of light in the eyes of the portrait subject. This little reflection of light is called a catch light.

Pay close attention to all of the high end magazines out there on the news stands and you will see that every single person on the front pages has a little catch light in their eyes. Why is this important? Because without it, your subject looks dull and boring. With a catch light, your subject looks lively and engaged - vibrant even! I always work hard to make sure that my subject has even just a little hint of a catch light in the eye. Here are some easy and simple tips for doing just that. (Note, click here to see the photos: www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html)

1. When outdoors, use a subtle fill flash. In my photography workshops, I always teach people to tone down their fill flash so that it is barely perceptible in the final image. A good starting point for your fill flash is to dial down the power to "-1.5" or "-1.7". Yes, that's "minus one point five." If you don't dial down your flash power, then you'll most likely end up washing out your subject's face. Instead of having a glimmer in their eye, they'll look like they were scared by a ghost! Use "-1.5" as your starting point, then adjust from there. Sometimes you'll need more like -0.7, but for most occasions, -1.7 does a good job of providing a catch light.

2. When taking pictures indoors, I really like to use natural lighting with reflectors. This is such an easy, low cost way to take beautiful portraits and the technique is super simple. First, find a nice big daylight window. Then place your subject so that one side of their face is towards the window and the other side of their face is in shadow. Next, set up a reflector on the shaded side of the person, but a little in front of them. This way, the reflector helps illuminate the shadows, but also provides a catch light in their eyes. If you look carefully a the photo of the person, you'll see one little bright catch light in their eyes. You can use anything you want as a reflector - a white sheet, a piece of foam core, a piece of plywood painted white or wrapped in foil. The technique works every time and you didn't even have to use a flash.

Of course, there are lots of other more expensive ways to get a nice catch light that involve flashes/strobes and more advanced lighting, but the tips above will do nicely until you're ready to spend more on your photo gear.

Digital Tidbits: Expose to the Right
I'm not talking about your political beliefs here, but I firmly believe you should bias your photographic exposures to the right. What I'm talking about is using your camera's histogram to better expose for your subject. More specifically, I'd like you to take your exposures so that your histogram is biased towards the right side of the graph.

Your histogram, like many other things on your camera, is a tool available for you to use and judge how you exposed your picture. There is no "good" or "bad" histogram, they just "are". The histogram is a simple graph that shows brightness information for your picture. Another fancy word for brightness is "luminosity." You'll see the word luminosity used in Photoshop and books and other places, so it is something you should add to your digital vocabulary.

Anyways, the histogram on your camera displays the luminosity of the image you just took. If you took a picture of something that was pretty dark, then the histogram will be biased towards the left of the graph. If you took a picture of something bright, then the histogram will be towards the right side of the graph. If you took a picture with something bright and something dark in the scene, then you'll have two big bumps on your histogram: one on the right and one on the left.

In general, your photos should try to exploit the full range of luminosity from bright to dark and this is the only way you will get a full tonality print. There are some very good technical reasons (which I won't fully go into here) why you should expose to the right. Basically, the darker your exposure (i.e. histogram to the left), the fewer levels you have to define your image. Also, if you underexpose your shot, it is difficult to repair it in Photoshop without getting lots of noise. (For you techies out there, your signal-to-noise-ratio is low, so amplifying the signal, also dramatically amplifies the noise).

So, the best approach is to expose so that your picture's histogram is biased to the bright side of the exposure - BUT - without blowing out or overexposing the highlights. If you overexpose the highlights in your picture, for example the clouds or a bride's dress, then the detail is gone forever and impossible to bring back. So, your balancing act is this: Expose too dark and you get lots of noise when you fix your shot. Expose too bright and you lose all your highlight detail. Expose "to the right", and things are hunky dory.

This process is a little vague, but if you follow this rule of thumb, you'll be better off in the long run and your pictures will thank you.

Workshop Updates:
New Workshop: Digital Portrait Photography
Based on input from a number of you folks, we have decided to create a new workshop called Digital Portrait Photography to be available in the Fall/Winter time frame. The workshop will be two days. The first day to learn basic composition and lighting. The second day will cover more advanced composition, lighting as well as Photoshop tools for portrait photographers. Our goal is to start bringing all elements of photography into focus so that you can take great pictures of your clients whether they be paying customers or your grandkids/children. Information will be posted at www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
The Seattle workshops with The Nikonians were great fun and a great success. We are looking forward to many more this summer and fall throughout the Western and Eastern USA as well as Canada. Our locations will be in Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Toronto Canada, New York and Boston. Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html. There is also a link on this page for those who want to sign up.

Nikon D70 and D70s Workshops
We continue to sell out these workshops and have added a few more for 2005 during June and August. Now that Nikon has announced their new D70s, we're going to add a whole new series of D70/D70s workshops for 2006. Updated Schedules are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
These hands-on learning flash photography workshops are a hoot! It is so much fun to create beautiful portraits with this amazing flash system. Sign up now while there are still slots open. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
We've added more Photoshop workshops for later this year. Also, we still have a couple slots open for the June workshop in Portland, Oregon. We provide 39 tutorials for the Photoshop Level I workshop and 36 advanced tutorials for the Photoshop Level II workshop. These are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we are working on creating up to two more Photoshop workshops: Photoshop III and Black and White conversions. Details will be posted soon. www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

> The Art of Travel Workshops
Our Art of Travel workshops focus on travels in the Columbia River Gorge and also in Gig Harbor, Washington. These two day events are targeted towards those of you who want to create artistic images and want to better understand what elements help make great pictures. Both the Columbia Gorge and Gig Harbor offer so any inspiring photographic subjects that it is hard not to come away from these sessions with beautiful photographs. Go here for the updated schedule: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
Quite a few people have signed up for private instruction. During these sessions, we are able to work specifically on your own photographic needs. Available topics are Digital SLR photography (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, etc.), Wedding photography, Photoshop, color management, digital workflow, flash photography, portraiture, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Camera gear for sale
I'm selling off some of the gear that I no longer use. Send me an email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you are interested or would like to see a picture.
- Tokina 20-35 f/2.8 AT-X lens. Nikon mount. This is a great lens that is in excellent condition. I've taken some of my best pictures with it. Price is $295.
- Nikon N90s. I bought this camera new in 1997 and used it up until last year. It's a great camera and is in good condition. Everything works and I still have the box and manual. Price is $225.

As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We'll get back to you right away and are always happy to help.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





Newsletter Page
Click here to be added to our mailing list!





Some pics from The Art of Travel Photography Columbia Gorge Workshop


Here's the Auto White Balance picture (see text).



Here's the Shady White Balance picture that I selected (see text).


4/21/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - April 21st 2005

Greetings folks - It's been a very busy month here at Out There Images. We continue to expand our workshop offerings to bring you the very best workshops possible. We are ramping up for the summer "learning season" and are excited about all of the upcoming workshops and photography opportunities.

Over the last few weeks, I've been taking some great pictures here in the Northwest in spite of all the rain! It's been a lot of fun to be able to get outside and put my cameras through their paces in the Columbia Gorge. The wildflowers this year have turned out to be pretty impressive and I have taken some neat pictures of Indian Paintbrush, Bleeding Hearts, Balsam Root and purple Lupine (I've posted some of the pics here: www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html). I can't help but have a good time when I'm outside doing what I love and I hope I am able to pass along some of that enthusiasm to all of you!

Photo Techniques: Get Close
Since I've been having so much fun taking pictures of flowers, I thought I'd write about how much work it actually is to get great pictures of these tiny little guys. On the surface, taking a good picture of a flower seems relatively easy. Just point your camera down at the ground and snap away. That method works until you get home and look at your pictures on your computer. It's at that point when you realize that you can barely see the flowers because you didn't get close enough.

One of the great photographers of World War II was Robert Capa. His photos were captivating because they showed battle and combat scenes close up. The reason why his pictures were so amazing was because he had the guts to get in close, right along side our troops as they stormed Omaha Beach. Bullets were whizzing by his head as he took pictures of soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice. One of Capa's great quotes was "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough."

I'm not advocating that you head over to a modern combat zone so that you can come home with some great war pics, but I am asking you to take Capa's advice. Specifically, get close! In fact, get down and dirty close. When confronted with a beautiful flower, don't be content to just bend over and snap a pic. You can do better than that. Get down on your knee - down to flower level and then take a shot. In fact, go one step further and try laying down on the ground and shooting UP at a flower for an entirely new perspective.

Many of today's digital point and shoot cameras will allow to you focus down to mere inches from the lens. I know a few cameras have a "super macro" function that allow you to focus at 0.4 inches. Yes, that's less than half an inch. If you are shooting with an SLR, then there are a number of inexpensive closeup options available such as screw-on closeup lenses that fit over your existing lens and extension tubes. Neither of these options cost as much as buying a new closeup lens.

Truly great photographs happen when you are not afraid to push the limits of your camera or your body. Getting down low to the ground and pushing your camera as close as possible to your flower will greatly improve your end result. I guarantee it!

Digital Tidbits: The Importance of White Balance

Have you ever looked at a photo you've taken and thought that the colors looked kind of funny? Way back in the film days (you know, two years ago or so) we used to blame the bad color on the "lab." Now, in the digital age, there aren't many excuses left when it comes to weird colors. It's pretty much printed just how you have presented the electronic file (i.e. JPEG) to the lab or to your home printer. Therefore, since getting your colors right is your responsibility, I encourage you to take a few minutes to understand a little bit about white balance.

Each different light source give off a different color or hue depending on its color temperature. For example, an incandescant light bulb like the kind in your desk lamps tends to give off a yellow/orange color. The light on a cloudy day tends to give off a very blue color. Fortunately, your eyes work in conjunction with your brain to "filter" these different colors of light so that colors look natural to you regardless of what the source of light really is. In other words, your brain makes a white piece of paper look white if it is illumiated by an incandescant bulb or by a fluorescent bulb or by the light on a cloudy day.

Your digital camera on the other hand doesn't have the same native ability as your brain. It makes guesses about the best way to make white look white. Most of the time, your camera does a pretty good job. Sometimes however, it totally messes up and gives you some pretty wacky colors! Take a look at the photographs posted here for a few examples of different white balance settings: www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html

So how do you get your colors to look natural? Well, many cameras give you the ability to change white balance manually. You probably haven't messed around with this function before, but I strongly encourage you to do so. To get to the manual white balance settings, you probably have to go into your "Menu" and then select one of the icons that say "WB" or White Balance. Then, you'll be presented with some hieroglyphics that are supposed to look like various light sources, i.e. Sun, Incandescant Bulb, Fluorescent, Clouds, Shade, etc.

The "trick" to setting white balance isn't really a trick at all. In fact, it is very easy. Just select the white balance icon that most closely matches the type of light that you are in. For example, if you are blessed to live in the Northwest, then you are probably shooting pictures on a cloudy day. If that is the case, then set your white balance to "cloudy." On the other hand, if you live in the Southwest, then you are most likely shooting pics on a sunny day. In that case, set your white balance to "sun." The same logic applies if you are shooting pictures indoors under incandescant bulbs - set your white balance to "incandescant." Now, if you are living at the North Pole in the dead of winter and the sun won't be out until next March ... well, you're out of luck. You've got bigger problems to worry about.

One final note about white balance: Don't forget to change it back to "Auto" mode when you are finished taking pictures. The reason for this is that white balance settings are only good for one type of light. Invariably, the next place you take pictures will be in a different light and you'll forget to set your white balance properly. You don't want your pictures of Aunt Matilda to turn out green do you?

Workshop Updates

Nikonians Workshops
Our workshops with The Nikonians have turned out to be a smashing success. So much so, that we've added some East Coast and Canadian locations to our offerings. Our new locations will be in Washington DC, Toronto, Canada, New York and Boston. West coast cities will be Seattle, Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html . There is also a link on this page for those who want to sign up.

Aviation Photography Workshops
We've finally scheduled some dates with the Pearson Air Museum for two avaition-themed digital photography workshops. We'll be studying digital photography while taking photos of Pearson's classic airplane collection. We'll have full access to the museum during the entire workshop. Follow this link for more information or to sign up: www.outthereimages.com/aviation_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
Yes, we continue to sell out these workshops and have added a few more for 2005. Now that Nikon has announced their new D70 model, the D70s, we'll probably continue to add workshops for 2006. Updated Schedules are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
Demand is growing for the iTTL flash classes as more and more people buy and begin using their SB600 and SB800 flashes. Sign up now while there are still spots open. These are hands-on learning workshops aimed at helping you improve your flash photography. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Photoshop Workshops
Many people who sign up for our Photoshop for Photographers Workshops are going home with a new respect for this amazing program. We provide 39 tutorials for the Photoshop Level I workshop and 36 advanced tutorials for the Photoshop Level II workshop. These are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
We have decided to better focus our Art of Travel workshops to the Columbia River Gorge and also to Gig Harbor, Washington. These two day events are targeted towards those of you who want to start creating artistic images and want to better understand what elements help make great pictures. Both the Columbia Gorge and Gig Harbor offer so any inspiring photographic subjects that it is hard not to come away from these sessions with beautiful photographs. Go here for the updated schedule: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Private Tutoring
In the last month we have signed up a number of people for private instruction. We now are opening our schedule for folks who are interested in learning in a one-on-one environment. Available topics are Digital SLR photography (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, etc.), Photoshop, Color management, digital workflow, flash photography, portraiture, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email (mike@outthereimages.com) if you have questions about this option.

Well, that's it for this month. I am continually amazed at how many of you want to improve their photographic skills and how hard you all work at achieving excellence. I encourage you to keep taking pictures and most imporantly to "Get Out And Learn!"

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103





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Here's a "bad" way to position your monitor (see text).



Here's the "good" to position your monitor (see text).

3/18/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - March 18th 2005

Greetings folks - I hope you are all doing well and taking lots of photos. This month's newsletter finds me more excited than ever about teaching workshops and helping others overcome the steep learning curve that digital photography brings with it. We here at Out There Images have been blessed with a growing business and lots of great customers. Thank you all for your repeat business and your commitment to continued learning.

Digital technology has definitely breathed new life into photography and has brought a new enthusiasm. I know that many of you have talked to me over the last month about how excited you are about your photos and more importantly - excited to "Get Out And Learn!" A few weeks ago I was in Arizona leading some workshops in the Phoenix area. I had the great opportunity to meet a bunch of new people who were all extremely enthusiastic about learning their digital cameras and learning how to be better photographers. It was inspiring for me to see classrooms full of people who were willing to put in the hours to fully understand what makes their cameras tick!

Photo Techniques: "Nail That Exposure"

Many people feel like getting good exposures is one of the most difficult aspects of photography to get a firm grasp on. Unfortunately, most make it out to be much more difficult than it really has to be. Fundamentally, we just need to understand that we want our whites to be white, our grays to be grays and our blacks to be black. Once we grasp that concept, then the whole process gets easier from there. The truth is that today's automated cameras do a pretty good job getting good exposures most of the time. But, if "good enough" isn't good enough for you, then it is time to take control and get better exposures.

One of the keys to improving on your camera's built-in metering system is to understand that most cameras try to make all photographs "medium" in tonality (aka brightness). For example, if you take a picture of white snow, your camera tries to make it medium-toned and the end result is that the snow ends up looking gray. Conversly, if you are taking a picture of a black sports car, your camera again tries to make it medium toned and you get a gray sports car.

During my workshops, one of the things I always talk about is a simple little ditty that will help you make your whites look white and your blacks look black. It goes a little something like this: "Add light to light. Add dark to dark." Sounds kind of simple because it is simple. Here's how it works in the field.

Let's say you are taking a picture of that big ol' glacier over there on Mt. Rainier. Snow is "light" in tone, right? Since you know you want it to be white, you need to "add light to light." In other words, you have to increase the exposure in the camera in order to make those whites really pop. For snow, I recommend that you use an exposure compensation of +1 to +1.5 stops. Most cameras these days have a little "+/-" button that will allow you to compensate your exposure. Simply dial in +1 or + 1.5 when you are taking a picture of snow, and then your snow will look white.

Use the same, but opposite technique for dark subjects. If you want your black sports car to look black, then dial in an exposure compensation of -1 or -2 (i.e. minus one or minus two) and viola! You've got yourself a black car.

Now, what happens if you are shooting a picture of something medium-toned? Well, you're in luck because your camera is already programmed to make all tones look medium, so you don't have to do anything. In terms of what the camera sees, grays, medium greens and reds are all medium tones. In other words, a gray coat will give the same exposure as will green grass as will a red flower.

So, there you have it. Exposure made easy. Just add light to light and add dark to dark. Now, head outside and shoot some pictures for yourself - Get Out And Learn!

Digital Tidbits: "Setting Up Your Digital Office"

As we all progress down the path of digital proficiency, we need to become more concerned about how our digital office is set up. In last month's email, I talked about how to organize your digital files so that you can always find images you've shot in the past. This month, I want to talk about how to arrange your work space in a way that helps you create better output.

When I say "output", I mean either physical prints or web pages or pictures for email. All of these outputs require that you spend at least a little bit of your time in front of your computer to format your images properly. If your digital office area isn't set up well, then you'll be compromising your images - and that's a bad thing.

Ok, with that said, there are a few things you should do with respect to the physical arrangement of your desk and your computer monitor. First of all, please arrange your desk so that it isn't facing a window. Your goal is to be sure that your computor monitor is free from intense backlighting and reflections. In my case, I really like to look out my window while I'm working away in my office, so for many years, I've had my computer monitor directly in front of my office window. For a long time, I didn't realize that the strong backlighting of the window was adversly impacting my ability to accurately work on my images in Photoshop. I couldn't see fine details or color gradients because my eyes were adjusted for the bright sun, and not for the computer monitor. Since then, I've "seen the light" and have moved my office around so that my monitor is away from the window (Note: go to our website to see pictures of these two arrangments www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html ).

While you are moving your desk, be sure that there are no bright lights behind your monintor that will reflect off your screen. Reflections can also wreak havoc on your ability to accurately assess colors.

Here are some more tips to help configure your workspace:
1. Choose a gray background for your monitor. Gray fires all screen pixels (i.e. RGB) in equal amounts and therefore helps to ensure your colors are accurate.
2. Regardless if you are using a Mac or a PC, choose a gray windows theme design (found under the "Appearance" tab of the "Display Properties" control window). This will also ensure that all the screen pixels fire at the same rate.
3. Make sure your monitor is on for at least 30 minutes before doing serious Photoshop work. You'll get much better color rendition and tonal response if your monitor is nice and warm.

Workshop Updates
Nikon D70 Workshops
Demand continues to be high for our Nikon D70 Level I and Advanced workshops. Here are the future dates and locations are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have signed on with a great group of photographers called the Nikonians to teach workshops throughout the Western USA. The Nikonians is a group of over 28,000 dedicated Nikon shooters who gather at www.nikonians.org. We'll be leading D70 Level I, Advanced D70 and iTTL workshops in Seattle, Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Workshops will be held in May, June, July and August. Details are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html.

Aviation Photography Workshops
Pearson Air Museum and Out There Images have teamed up to present a series of digital photography workshops with an aviation theme. The workshops will be held at Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington on 5/22/05 and 9/17/05. We'll have more information posted on our website very soon at www.outthereimages.com/aviation_workshop.html.

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
Learn how to use your SB600 and SB800 flashes in this one-day workshop. We'll cover all kinds of lighting conditions and put these amazing flashes to the test. This is a very hands-on workshop. Bring your camera and your flash and get ready to learn. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html. Our Seattle workshops are filling up fast.

Digital SLR Workshops
Many of our customers have also purchased Canon Digital Rebels, Canon 10D/20D and Nikon D100/D2H/D2X cameras. A great fit for people who own these cameras are the "Digital SLR Outdoor Photography" (www.outthereimages.com/digitalslr_workshop.html) workshops and the "Art of Travel Photography" (www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html) workshops.

Photoshop Level I & II
Most of the computer questions I get at our workshops revolve around how to better use Photoshop. So, we've created a series of Photoshop workshops aimed at taking you from beginner to savvy within two days. You can take just one class or take them both for a discounted price. Check out details here: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html.

As always, if you have any questions about things photo related, feel free to drop me an email or call at any time. I'll get back to you right away.

Also, if you would like to be removed from this mailing list, please send us an email with the word "remove" in the subject line. I'll be sorry to see you go, but I'll take your name off the list immediately.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103







2/21/05 Newsletter
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Here's the "bad" way to hold your camera (see text).



Here's the "good" way to hold your camera (see text).

2/21/05 Newsletter

Out There Images Newsletter - February 21st 2005

Greetings folks and welcome to the Out There Images Newsletter. I hope this message finds you doing well and taking lots of photos! I've been taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather here in Washington State to get outside and take some more digital photos for my files. Just a few evenings ago, I went out at dusk to photograph a local building silhouetted against the deep blue evening sky. My four year-old son was with me and wanted to take some pictures of the moon too, so I let him "point and shoot" with my digital SLR (a little bit scary).

Since this is the first Out There Images Newsletter, let me take a minute to describe our format. The first section will be "Photo Techniques" and is aimed at helping you take better photos by using your noggin! Next, we'll cover a thought or two on digital photography called "Digital Tidbits". Finally, in the "Workshop Updates" section we'll include information on our newest workshops and offerings. If you want to read this letter on our website, then you can find it (along with pretty pictures) at www.outthereimages.com/newsletter.html. Enjoy!

Photo Techniques: "Steady as she goes."
One of the great things about digital photography is the immediacy of seeing results from your efforts on your camera's playback screen. Unfortunately, this immediacy frequently lulls us into a bit of laziness. What I mean by laziness is that if you can see right away whether the shot was good or bad, then why worry too much about setting up the shot before hand? Don't worry, I also fall into this same trap. You can just keep shooting until everything is good, right? After all, you can just delete them later.

Well, if you truly want to improve the look of your photos, then "snap out of it!" Slow down just a bit and think through the shot you want to take. Walk around, look through your viewfinder and compose the scene in front of you so that it is asthetically pleasing. Many times you'll find me walking around a scene without my tripod - just looking through my view finder at different compositions. I'll zoom in and out, try horizontal and vertical orientations, get close to the ground ... you name it. Once I have a composition I like, then and only then will I plunk down my tripod and carefully set up the final shot. I find that taking a few minutes before actually tripping the shutter almost always results in a much better final product.

If you have to hand hold your shot for some reason, then at least make sure your hand holding technique is nice and solid. Hold your camera firmly with both hands while pressing it against your face. I know that a lot of digital cameras allow you to look at the rear screen while framing the picture, but I encourage you to look through the optical viewfinder instead. You'll have a much better chance of getting sharp, unblurry photos this way.

Digital Tidbits: "Managing All Those Photos"
If you are like me, you have taken more digital photos than you know what to do with. We all need to get with the program and start editing and filing your shots right away. What good are your pictures if they are sitting on your computer hard drive never to be seen again? I recommend that you file your shots using a system that follows the way your own brain works.

For example, if you tend to think of your photos in terms of when they were taken, then file them according to dated files on your hard drive. If, like me, you like to categorize your shots by subject, then file them by folder according to names such as "Family", "Costa Rica", "Cars", "Landscapes", etc.

Once your pictures are sorted by folder (date, subject, smart number, etc.) then you can use an image browsing program to quickly look through the folder to find the shot you want. There are lots of options these days - ACDSee, Photoshop CS, Photoshop Elements, Nikon View, Windows Explorer, Gimp, Picture Project, Corel, etc. Some of my workshop participants just recently recommended a couple of free programs; one called "Gimp" and another called "Picasa". Choose your favorite, and use it!

While you're at it, why don't you take some time to ruthlessly edit your pictures. Just delete the truly bad ones. Only keep photos around that you consider publishable or printable. The rest of the photos are just taking up space on your hard drive and causing your computer to run slower. I always throw away all my bad shots - no questions asked. Get rid of the garbage!

The sooner you start organizing and editing your photos, the fewer problems you'll have in the future when trying to locate that great shot of Aunt Matilda kissing little Cousin Jack. The best way to stay on top of your digital photos is to try to make it a point to download and file your photos on the same day they were taken.

Workshop Updates
There are lots of changes and additions to our workshop schedule. Head over to our website to get the full scoop on each of these. As always, if you are interested in signing up, then send us an email and we'll get your name on the class roster right away.

Photoshop for Photographers
Our Photoshop workshops are filling up, so sign up now to secure a spot. We'll be using Photoshop CS on the classroom computers, but if you have a laptop loaded with Photoshop and want to bring it, then go ahead! More information is shown at: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html.

Advanced Nikon D70
Many of you have asked for an Advanced Nikon D70 workshop. In response to the requests, I have scheduled a number of these workshops for later this Spring, Summer and Fall. We'll be covering many more of the D70 special functions and custom setups. Additionally, the class will be more focused on photographic technique and methods. I think you'll really like the course. Send an email to sign up or click here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikon iTTL Workshops
By popular demand, we've added iTTL workshops for the Seattle area. Check out the dates and locations here: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html.

Travel and Nature Photography
April kicks off the wildflower and travel season for me. Join us on one of our multi-day weekend workshops to learn more about the Art of Travel Photography or Nature & Outdoor Photography in the Columbia Gorge. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/workshops.html

Subscription Information
Many of you have asked to be added to this mailing list in order to stay up to date with our current class offerings. If you would like to be removed from this list, please respond with the word "REMOVE" written in the subject line and we'll delete your name from our database right away.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images - "Get Out And Learn!"
www.outthereimages.com
mike@outthereimages.com
360-750-1103



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