Pushing Back Detail Using Lightroom CC

Posted August 25th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink
hagen_150805_0050-2

I used Lightroom CC’s highlight slider to push back detail in the bright regions of this photograph.

 

Taking pictures on a bright sunny day presents all kinds of challenges for our photography. One of the biggest issues we find is with white areas because they tend to blowout and lose detail from the bright reflected sun. Shooting images in RAW format will allow you recover some of the lost highlights in software as long as you don’t over expose the scene too much.

I work with a lot of photographers who are afraid of shooting RAW because of the perceived extra workload required to process them in software. I understand this fear, especially for people who have never spent much time working with photographs on their computers. The prospect of learning a program like Lightroom CC from the ground up can be especially daunting.

If your photos are important to you, then I want to encourage you to spend time to learn a RAW processing program like Lightroom CC. This software package and others like it are very capable and aren’t too big to learn as long as you are willing to invest a few hours of your precious time.

One of the most useful tools in Lightroom is the highlight slider. You’ll find this slider in the Develop module and it is designed to help recover highlight detail from over-exposed areas in an image. Take a look at this example photograph of boats at a marina (below). I photographed this a couple weeks ago in my hometown of Gig Harbor Washington on a sunny morning.

PushBackHighlights2_1200px

The scene appealed to me because of the calm water that produced fascinating reflections of the boats. The second thing I noticed about this scene was a man eating breakfast on the back of his boat while enjoying the morning sun. Using my Nikon D800 and a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I set the camera for matrix metering and took the shot.

When I returned to my computer and downloaded my images, I saw right away that the white areas of the boats appeared to be blown out. In other words, there was limited detail on the white paint because of the brightness of the direct sun. Since I always shoot my images in RAW format, I knew that I would be able to push back some detail into those bright white areas by moving Lightroom’s highlight slider downwards.

hagen_150805_0050

Here’s the image as I captured it in the Nikon D800. You’ll see lots of regions in the photograph that are over exposed. I’ll use the Highlight slider in Lightroom CC to recover details in those areas.

The highlight slider is a very advanced tool and does an excellent job with recovering delicate highlight detail. In general, you should feel comfortable moving the slider down to the minimum position (-100) without causing too much visual degradation of the picture. In previous versions of Lightroom, you had to be very careful with the highlights slider because you never knew what would happen to those highlight areas. In some cases, the areas we just turn muddy and you would lose texture in the image. With the new highlight slider in Lightroom 5, 6 and CC, you should feel comfortable moving the slider to just about any position from zero to -100 on the slider scale. There are some photos where adjusting the slider to -80 or -90 doesn’t look good, but you’ll be able quickly see where the photo starts to break down and then you can re-adjust the slider appropriately. My general approach is to move the slider to where it recovers all detail, then back it off just a tiny bit to retain the realism in the image.

PushBackHighlights1

For this picture of the boats, I did a few things in order to push detail back into the highlights. The first thing was to move the exposure slider down by -0.30. This reduced the overall brightness of the photograph, including highlights, midtones, and shadows. My next step was to adjust the highlight slider down to the point where I was able to push detail back into the white areas of the boats. In this case it was about -70 on the scale.

My next adjustment was to increase the shadow slider to bring back information in the dark areas of the scene that I lost when moving the exposure down. Finally, I increased clarity and vibrance to add a little bit of punch to the image.

PushBackHighlights3_1800px

When comparing the before and after of the image, the adjustments I made were subtle, yet significant. If I was going to make a print of this image, the unedited version would have been terrible because the bright areas of the scene would have no detail and the image would end up looking flat. By recovering the highlights, I was able to salvage the shot.

Marina panorama

Here’s another shot, a panorama, from the same position. I used the same Lightroom settings as the previous image to recover the highlights.





2016 Photography Workshops

Posted August 18th, 2015 by   |  Travel, Workshops  |  Permalink

Four of our 2016 photo workshops are posted and ready for signups. We’ll be going to Tanzania, Galapagos, Iceland, and Prague. I’m looking forward to seeing you and I know you are going to love these photo adventures and workshops. Great photography. Great food. Great people. I take great pride in putting together incredible journeys to the most incredible locations on earth. Join me in 2016!

NewWorkshopComp2

Our Czech Republic and Prague workshop is a new destination for us in 2016. We’ll be traveling to  during the second week of October, 2016 and our goal is to take advantage of the fall colors . Imagine photographing the Czech Republic’s castles, forests and cities with the backdrop of vibrant colors. It will be beautiful.

2016 Workshop Information Pages

Iceland: July 17-24, 2016

Galapagos: September 17-25, 2016

Czech Republic/Prague: October 8-16, 2016

Tanzania: November 4-15, 2016

Email me at mike@VisAdventures.com if you have any questions. I’ll get right back to you!





Nikon Announces the 200-500mm f/5.6 VR, 24-70mm f/2.8 VR, and 24mm f/1.8

Posted August 4th, 2015 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

New Lenses from Nikon

Nikon announced three new exciting FX lenses today that address three very different needs for photographers: the 200-500mm f/5.6 VR, 24-70mm f/2.8 VR, and 24mm f/1.8. All will be welcome additions to the Nikon family and I’m especially looking forward to testing the 200-500mm f/5.6 VR.

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR

Nikon 200-500mm

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR ED

This is a new lens focal length range for Nikon and will compete with Tamron’s 150-600mm f/5-6.3 and Sigma’s 150-600mm f/5-6.3. A couple of years ago, Nikon rebooted their venerable 80-400mm f/5.6 and it was met with rave reviews. This new 200-500mm lens adds some reach at the long end and also adds a new Sports VR mode that is supposed to allow up to 4.5 stops of image stabilization.

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 VR

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70E f/2.8G ED VR

Building on the top-of-the-line Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, the new 28-70mm f/2.8 VR adds a much-requested vibration reduction feature to this professional workhorse. I’ve used my legacy 24-70mm f/2.8 for years and have found this focal length to be well suited to everything from street photography to landscapes to travel to portraits. It is truly a great lens and adding VR is icing on the cake.

Nikon 24mm f/1.8

Nikon 24mm f/1.8

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G

Nikon has been updating their line of prime f/1.8 lenses over the last few years and the 24mm f/1.8 is the latest in the series that currently includes a 20mm f/1.8, 28mm f/1.8, 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8, and 85mm f/1.8. These f/1.8 lenses offer excellent performance at just about half the price of the Nikon f/1.4 lenses. I currently own the 85mm f/1.8 and love it. I’m positive the 24mm f/1.8 will also be an excellent performer.

Pre-order today

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 VR

B&H
Adorama
Amazon

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 VR

B&H
Adorama
Amazon

Nikon 24mm f/1.8

B&H
Adorama
Amazon

Here’s the press release from Nikon:

***

 

SOURCE Nikon Inc.

 

MELVILLE, N.Y., Aug. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Nikon Inc. announced three exciting new NIKKOR lenses for professional and enthusiast photographers. The new AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is the evolution of one of Nikon’s most popular pro lenses, improving upon its versatility and image quality. Nikon has also announced two additional new lens options, including the lightweight AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, a super-telephoto zoom that gives FX and DX-format photographers incredible reach in a compact size. The AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED is the latest addition to Nikon’s popular line of f/1.8 fixed focal length lenses and is ideal for those seeking a sharp, fast-aperture prime lens.

 

“These three very different lenses are representative of the diverse range of Nikon photographers, but they all provide the most vibrant, sharp images and HD video possible; with color and clarity that only genuine NIKKOR optics can deliver,” said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc.

 

AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR
Look into the bag of nearly any Nikon-wielding pro and you will find Nikon’s iconic 24-70mm f/2.8, and with good reason; this lens’ versatility and image quality has made it an essential workhorse lens for every type of shooter. The new AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR improves upon its respected predecessor in nearly every aspect, adding the best Nikon lens technologies to create an essential optic. An exciting evolution to come to this lens is the much-anticipated addition of Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization technology. With up to four stops of image stabilization*, the new 24-70mm f/2.8 VR is ready to tackle the challenging light of a wedding ceremony or on-the-spot news, while Tripod Mode helps to banish blur for landscape shooters. VR is also a huge benefit to filmmakers shooting handheld or on a rig who already appreciate the lens’ depth-of-field control and precise sharpness.

The new NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8 utilizes Nikon’s Electromagnetic Aperture control, which allows for consistent exposures during high speed bursts of shooting. This lens also improves upon image quality with new optical construction to provide clarity and consistently sharp images, and is ideal for capturing portraits, landscapes and weddings. For nearly any assignment in any kind of light, the combination of a fast f/2.8 constant maximum aperture and useful zoom range make this lens the choice of many professionals. A first for NIKKOR lenses, a new Aspherical Extra-Low Dispersion (ASP/ED) element is paired with traditional aspherical, ED and High-Refractive Index (HRI) elements for a thrilling new level of optical precision. Photos and videos take on a beautiful balance of sharpness and subtle blur effects, virtually free of flare, ghosting, coma and chromatic aberration throughout the frame. Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat is also employed to further reduce instances of ghosting and flare.

 

The new lens construction enhances durability and image quality, while retaining the overall balance and handling that made this a favorite of photographers in the first place. The lens is sealed and gasketed against the elements, and now features a fluorine coating on the front and rear element to make it easier to remove dirt, moisture and smudges from the lens surface. The optical formula consists of 20 elements in 16 groups, while a 9-blade diaphragm helps to create a pleasing, natural out of focus area with beautiful bokeh. Additionally, the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR features a new filter diameter of 82mm and will accept the new Nikon CPL2 Circular Polarizer and 82mm NC (Neutral Color) filters.

 

AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
The new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR is an exhilarating new lens option, giving enthusiast FX and DX-format photographers the ability to go further with amazing zoom power and tack-sharp clarity. This compact super-telephoto zoom is ideal for bringing distant subjects closer, including birds, sports, wildlife and motorsports. This lens opens the doors for a fresh new perspective; with a maximum reach of 500mm on FX-format Nikon cameras and a staggering 750mm equivalent reach on DX-format cameras. With a maximum aperture of f/5.6, photographers have the ability to fill much of the frame with their subject and create a pleasing background blur, even in challenging light. This lens also features Nikon’s Electromagnetic Aperture for consistent exposures, as well as VR with 4.5 stops of image stabilization. Additionally, the VR features Sport Mode, which is well-suited for capturing vibrant, sharp images of distant subjects at high frame rates or when panning with fast-moving action. The lens also lets users focus as close as 7.2 ft. throughout the entire focal range, for when a decisive play comes closer than expected, or capturing intricate details of nature.

 

Whether spending all day at an air race or in the field, the new NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6 is surprisingly lightweight at only 5 lbs 1.2 oz. (2300 grams) including the tripod collar, making this lens easy to use handheld for extended periods. Photographers looking for even more reach can increase the zoom power using an optional compatible Nikon 1.4x, 1.7x or 2x E series Teleconverters** to capture even the most distant subjects.

 

The new AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR’s optical formula features three ED elements to enhance sharpness and minimize chromatic aberration. A 9-blade aperture provides a desirable, smooth bokeh, while Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor technology helps to quickly and quietly achieve critical focus. The filter diameter of the new 200-500mm lens is 95mm, and Nikon will also offer optional 95mm NC (Neutral Color) and the 95mm Circular Polarizer CPL2 filters.

 

AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED
The AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED is the latest addition to the exceptional system of NIKKOR f/1.8 primes, and provides enthusiast photographers with a fast wide-angle prime lens that’s both lightweight and affordable. This new lens lets photographers immerse viewers into landscapes, interiors and architecture with amazing clarity and minimal distortion, while a fast maximum aperture delivers superb bokeh and excellent low-light ability. Whether a photographer’s passion is capturing environmental portraits or the delicious details of a meal, this lens creates a dramatic separation between subject and background.

 

The new NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8 complements Nikon’s high-resolution DSLRs and provides amazing image quality thanks to Nikon lens technologies including Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat. Additionally, this compact lens features ED and Aspherical lens elements for extreme sharpness while minimizing ghosting and flare.

 

Price and Availability

The new AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR will be available in late August for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $2399.95***. The AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR will be available in mid-September for the SRP $1399.95***. The new AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED will be available in mid-September for the SRP of 749.95***. For more information on these new NIKKOR lenses as well as other Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

 

About the NIKKOR Brand
With a comprehensive assortment of FX and DX-format lenses and focal lengths, from the ultra-wide 10-24mm to the super telephoto 800mm VR, Nikon photographers have come to rely upon the NIKKOR core technologies that contribute to their optical superiority. NIKKOR is the brand name for Nikon’s photographic lenses, which are precision crafted to the most exacting standards in Nikon’s own glassworks. In 1933, Nikon marketed its first camera lens under the NIKKOR brand name, the “Aero-NIKKOR” for aerial photography applications. Since then, NIKKOR has been used as a brand name for Nikon’s lenses that symbolizes durability, high image quality and optical excellence.

 

About Nikon
Nikon, At the Heart of the Image™. Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enables users to tell their stories through amazing photos and videos. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, NIKKOR optics, Speedlights and system accessories; Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras; 35mm film SLR cameras; Nikon software products and Nikon sports and recreational optics as well as the Nikon 1 compact interchangeable lens camera system. Nikon Corporation, the parent company of Nikon Inc., recently announced the production of 95 million NIKKOR lenses in 2015, creating a new milestone in Nikon’s heritage of superior optics. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit http://www.nikonusa.com, which links all levels of photographers to the Web’s most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities. Connect with Nikon and other photographers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo and Flickr.

 

Specifications, equipment and release dates are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.

 

*Based on CIPA Standard. This value is achieved when FX-format compatible lenses are attached to a FX-format digital SLR camera and zoom lenses are set at the maximum telephoto position.

 

**Compatible with TC-14E series teleconverters (AF is only available when used with DSLR cameras that offer f/8 support. These include: D4, D4S, Df, D600, D610, D750, D800, D800E, D810, D810A, D7100, D7200). Compatible with TC-17E and TC-20E series teleconverters (AF not possible).

 

***SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change





Working the Scene

Posted July 29th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Bell flowers and Icelandic mountain.

Bell flowers and mountain in southern Iceland. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8.

When photographing any scene, make a point to always photograph it from as many angles as possible. Working the scene is important, because you’ll never know which photograph looks the best until you get back to your computer.

Mountain and reflection

Icelandic mountain reflected in small pond. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.

On last week’s trip through the southern coast of Iceland, my co-leader Tim Vollmer stopped our photo van to photograph this beautiful mountain reflected in the pool of water. Our group took a few reflection photographs at the pond, then started looking around for different photographs in the adjacent field. We found a small cluster bell flowers in the field and used it as a foreground element in our landscape image.

The flowers provided an entirely different look than the reflection and greatly added to the diversity of images we created. It’s a lot easier to spend 10 more minutes at the scene while you on location than it is to try to recreate a photo once you get back home.

To work a scene, consider these options:

- vertical

- horizontal

- reflections

- flowers

- water

- people

- animals

- high perspective

- low perspective

- sunny

- cloudy

Just for fun, here are a few BTS (behind the scenes) pics of our group in action.

hagen_150718_0222

Photographers in the dirt

Photographers using the bell flowers as a foreground element in their mountain photograph. Nikon D750, 70-200 f/2.8.

Photographers in Iceland

Photographers shooting mountain reflection in Iceland.





Review of Scott Kelby’s Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers

Posted June 30th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Lightroom CC for Digital Photographers cover

Like many of you, I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom for years. Since I also teach and write about Lightroom, I’m always excited to learn new hidden features of the program that I’ve never used.  In order to satisfy my desire to learn new things, I sat down last week to delve into Scott Kelby’s new Lightroom Book titled the Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers, published by New Riders – Voices That Matter.

Next Book in Series

This is the latest in Scott’s long-running series of Lightroom books that began with Lightroom 1 back in 2007. At 16 chapters and 559 pages, this book is hefty in its weight and its coverage of the topic. It isn’t the type of book you’ll sit down with for one evening. Rather, you’ll want to give yourself ample time to fully digest the plethora of tips, techniques, and methods that Kelby outlines in great detail.

Chapter 10

Book Layout and Design

Every topic in the book is laid out by an easy-to-follow system of steps. Step 1: do this. Step 2: do that. This approach to writing is very helpful for learning and puts all concepts into bite-sized chunks that are easily digestible. Each page is perfectly laid out with the main steps on one side of the page and the corresponding screen shots on the other side. This format makes it easy to read what you should be doing, while simultaneously seeing what you should be doing. This is a great way to learn Lightroom CC and follows the exact same approach I use when teaching the program.

Book layout

The book is laid out with the text description of the step on one side of the page and the corresponding screen-shot on the other side of the page. This makes learning the program much easier.

 

Each chapter ends with a page or two of Kelby’s famous Lightroom Killer Tips. These are quick tips that highlight some of the features of Lightroom in a rapid-fire way that gets right to the point. Be sure to read all of the Killer Tips for hidden gems that you might otherwise miss.

Lightroom Killer Tips

Each chapter of the book ends with a page or two of Kelby’s famous Lightroom Killer Tips.

 

One very nice touch is how the book is designed with the Lightroom module layout in the header. The purpose of the header is to show the reader what part of the program they are currently studying. This simple, but effective technique is extremely helpful to new users of the program who might otherwise be lost in the program. Scott’s design and layout team is very good and I give them major props for incorporating the module headers into the layout of the book.

Lightroom CC Modules

Notice how the Lightroom CC module layout is incorporated into the design of the book. This makes it easy to figure out where you are in the program.

 

Most Useful Chapters

No matter what level of Lightroom user you are, I guarantee you will learn something new in this book. However, I’d like to highlight a couple chapters of the book that I think will be especially useful for readers to fully understand the full capabilities of Lightroom CC/6.

Mobile

As you know, everything is migrating to mobile technology and Lightroom is no different. Lightroom CC has a fairly robust integration with mobile that allows you to incorporate your smart phone or tablet with the desktop application. Kelby’s section on the new Lightroom mobile app is well written and he clearly illustrates how to successfully use Lightroom with your tablet or phone.

Portrait Workflow

The chapter that I think will be most helpful for people is chapter 16 where Scott summarizes his workflow from start to finish. He uses a real-world example of a portrait session to show how to use the powerful features of Lightroom to maximize the efficiency of your photo session. This chapter is a nice way to end the book and synthesize everything Scott wrote about in the previous 15 chapters into one concisely written chapter.

 

Summary

The Adobe Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers is well written, easy to understand, and elegantly designed to help you learn Lightroom CC/6. This book rocks. Two thumbs up. Nice work Scott Kelby.

 

Chapter Titles

Chapter 1: Importing, Getting your photos into Lightroom

Chapter 2: Library, How to organize your photos

Chapter 3: Customizing, How to set things up your way

Chapter 4: Editing Essentials, How to develop your photos

Chapter 5: Local Adjustments, How to edit just part of your images

Chapter 6: Special Effects, Making stuff look … well… special

Chapter 7: Lightroom for Mobile, Using the mobile app

Chapter 8: Problem Photos, Fixing common problems

Chapter 9: Exporting Images, Saving JPEGs, TIFFs, and more

Chapter 10: Jumping to Photoshop, How and when to do it

Chapter 11: Book of Love, Creating photo books

Chapter 12: Slideshow, Creating presentations of your work

Chapter 13: The Big Print, Printing your photos

Chapter 14: The Layout, Creating cool layouts for web & print

Chapter 15: DSLR: The Movie, Working with video shot on your DLSR

Chapter 16: My Portrait Workflow, My step-by-step process from the shoot to the final print

Buy your own copy here:

Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers.





Profoto B2 AirTTL Off-Camera Flash Review

Posted June 17th, 2015 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Uncategorized  |  Permalink
Profoto B2 Air TTL

The Profoto B2 250 AirTTL Location Kit

Profoto asked me to review the new Profoto B2 off-camera flash system so I put the B2 AirTTL system through its paces shooting some outdoor portraits and photographing kids playing on a trampoline. For this test, I used the Profoto B2 250 AirTTL Location kit, Profoto OCF light shapers, a Nikon D750, the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8.

Here’s a video I put together for the Profoto B2 AirTTL OCF system.

I currently own a set of Profoto D1 Air studio strobes and think that Profoto makes some of the best studio lights on the market today. The B2 flashes take the Profoto technology and shrink it down into a small, battery-powered location kit that you can take just about anywhere. Like everything else in the Profoto lineup, the build quality of the B2 system is top-notch. Also, the quality of light is excellent when used with the OCF (off camera flash) light shapers.

Profoto trampoline

I used the Profoto B2 250 AirTTL heads to photograph these kids jumping on the trampoline. The flashes worked great with the outdoor location and packed enough punch to work with the bright sun.

The OCF system uses a battery pack to power the heads. This battery is small in comparison to other location power-pack systems and weighs just a few pounds. It is small enough that you can easily wear the pack with a shoulder strap while shooting events and outdoor action sports.

The heads are 250 watt-seconds each, so they pack about four times more power than a Nikon or Canon speedlight. They also recycle much faster than dedicated flashes, making it easier to photograph action with the B2 system.

Profoto trampoline BTS

Here you can see the two B2 heads in the lower right and upper left. I used the extension cable to move the background hair light about 15 feet away from the battery pack.

The B2 battery pack is designed to hang from a light stand or over your shoulder with a longer strap. Power runs from the battery pack through cables to the B2 heads. These heads are small, lightweight and compact and mount to just about any light stand. The heads work with any of the Profoto OCF light shapers. They also work with the traditional speedrings from other Profoto systems like the D1, D2, etc.

Profoto sells a wide variety of OCF accessories including softboxes, octas, umbrellas, snoots, grids and extension cables so you can move the heads farther distances away from the battery pack. The OCF light shapers are lighter weight than Profoto’s studio light shapers. The OCF material is made out of a reflective silver-coated rip-stop nylon and is constructed very well. It is all designed to go out on the road and perform in any environment.

The AirTTL system allows full remote control of two B2 heads. It mounts on the camera’s hot shoe just like a dedicated flash. The difference is that it communicates with the B2 battery pack while allowing for full TTL control or full manual control of the flash heads. You can control the flash power from the battery pack itself or from the remote control.

B2 on flash bracket

The B2 OCF heads are small enough and light enough to place on a flash bracket.

The B2 system has built-in modeling lights. These are useful for studio work indoors, but the modeling lights aren’t quite bright enough to use outdoors. The modeling lights could also be used for video lighting in a pinch.

The B2 flashes are powerful enough to use outside on a sunny day. I used them with bright sun in the background and was able to shoot at f/8 and ISO 400 with a rapid recycle rate. Not bad for a small flash system.

Jumping on trampoline

For this photo I used two B2 heads; one with a softbox and the other as a direct flash.

Since the B2s are really lightweight, they can be mounted on a flash bracket attached to your camera. You’ll still use the supplied B2 battery with cable, but instead of mounting a typical Nikon dedicated flash like a SB-910, you’ll mount the B2 head to the bracket. Additionally, you can use any of the OCF light shapers while the B2 head is mounted on the flash bracket. The advantage of using the B2 this way is that you can shoot events while getting lots of power, fast recycle rates and lots of shots before the batteries run out.

The entire B2 location kit fits in a small bag about the size of a classic Domke F-2 shoulder camera bag. This means that you can take the B2 OCF system on location just about anywhere in the world and produce high-end results.

B2 carry bag

The location kit fits in a small shoulder bag making it easy to carry around the world.

My hat is off to Profoto for innovating yet another killer product. The B2 AirTTL Off-camera Flash system definitely gets two thumbs up from me.

Buy your own B2 AirTTL OCF system here:

B&H Photo Video: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit

Adorama: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit

Ice-cream portrait

Fun summertime ice-cream portraits with the Profoto B2 Location Kit.

Ladder portrait

For this portrait, I shot in TTL mode. The Nikon D750 camera and AirTTL controller nailed the exposure!

 





Sony a7R II – Nikon and Canon DSLR Killer?

Posted June 10th, 2015 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink
Sony a7R II

The Sony a7R II packs a punch with 42 megapixels, 4k video and 5-axis VR.

Sony announced a doozy of a camera today with the Sony a7R II. The specification list reads as if Sony is ready to kill off all the DSLRs from Nikon and Canon. The a7R II is impressive and I have to wonder how long it will take until Nikon and Canon respond with something new of their own to match this impressive feature set.

- 42 megapixels back-illuminated CMOS sensor
- Full frame
- ISO 50 – 102,400
- 5-axis in-camera image stabilization
- 399 phase detection AF points and 25 contrast points
- Tilting monitor
- 4k video
- Shutter speed 30s – 1/8000s
- Flash sync 1/250s
- 5fps frame rate
- Built-in Wi-Fi

Sony a7R II front lens mount

The Sony a7R II will be available in August 2015 for approximately $3200. Sony will also release a total of 8 new FE full-frame lenses by early 2016.

Adorama pre-order link: Sony a7R II at Adorama

B&H pre-order link: Sony a7R at B&H Photo Video

Sony a7R II articulating screen.

The Sony a7R II articulating screen will be extremely useful for video work.





Rainbow in Galapagos

Posted June 4th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink
Rainbow panorama

Rainbow panorama in the Galapagos. Image captured with a Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8. Panorama stitched together using Photoshop.

Everyone loves a good rainbow shot. On the day of this photo, we were finishing up our epic Galapagos photo trip and getting ready to disembark our expedition yacht for the long flight back home. As we were packing our bags in the early morning, I poked my head out the window and saw a rainbow forming over the bay, just as the sun crested the eastern horizon. Always the photographer, I grabbed my camera and began shooting.

As our expedition yacht twisted around its mooring, different compositions came into play in the scene in front of us. First, the Ecuadorian Navy ammunition supply ship BAE Calicuchima steamed into perfect position at the base of the rainbow. I can only assume the sailors on board were looking for their own pot of gold. Then, some small fishing boats flitted through the scene on their way to shore to pick up bait. Finally, our own small pangas floated out from our expedition yacht into position in front of a double rainbow.

Like most things in photography, the scene quickly came and went. This rainbow stuck around for about ten minutes and changed in intensity as the sky went from a deep purple, to blue and then to pink. A few minutes later, at the peak of intensity, the rainbow formed into a double rainbow, then quickly disappeared along with the light mist.

Ecoventura Flamingo

Our expedition yacht, the Flamingo.

Pangas and rainbow.

Pangas and a double rainbow at sunrise in the Galapagos Islands.

 





April 2015 Newsletter is Posted

Posted April 23rd, 2015 by   |  Photography, Software, Workshops  |  Permalink

Our April 2015 Newsletter is posted here: http://visadventures.com/newsletters/2015-04-newsletter/

In this month’s newsletter:

- Greetings
- New Books
- Stuff I Like This Month
- Studio Tips: Seven Things I Learned by Photographing 500 People
- Digital Tidbits: Don’t Forget These 3 Things in the Lightroom Develop Module
- Digital Tidbits: New Software Options in 2015
- Workshop and Business Updates

newslettertilt

Check out our April 2015 newsletter for three big articles, new business updates, and tips related to new products in the photo market. One of the articles covers tools you should be using in Lightroom 5, 6 and CC. We also have an article comparing of all the new photo processing software available in 2015 including Apple Photos, Nikon Capture NXD, Nikon View NX-i, Affinity Photo, Lightroom CC. Our third article is dedicated to what I learned when photographing 500 people for a church directory. I give some great tips for setting up a studio on location, posing, and working with the public.

Read it here: April 2015 Newsletter





Rise of the Drone Cameras

Posted April 17th, 2015 by   |  Photography, Travel, Uncategorized  |  Permalink

Drone photography is gaining in popularity every single day and camera manufacturers have taken notice. We are at the very beginning of the new drone era and imaging companies are producing more advanced photo and video products every day.

GoPro was the first to really promote the use of their cameras with drones. Their line of Hero cameras integrated very well with the DJI Phantom series of quadcopters . This integration brought about a revolution in the photo industry that allowed just about anybody with $1,000 to capture high quality HD aerial footage of their adventures.

Now, in the quest for 4k drone video and super-high resolution stills, new players are jumping into the ring with incredible cameras specifically designed for drone usage. Here’s a run down of some of the new high resolution drone cameras available on the market today.

GoPro

GoPro Hero4

GoPro Hero4.

GoPro continues to up their game and this year they released the new Hero4 Black edition that captures 4k video at 30 frames per second. The Hero4 comes with a live view system that integrates with wi-fi enabled devices such as tablets and phones. Price is $499.99.

B&H Link: GoPro Hero4 Black

Sony

Sony FDR-X1000V

Sony FDR-X1000V action camera

Sony just announced a new series of 4k ActionCams called the FDR-X1000V to compete directly with the GoPro Hero 4. These use a live-view remote that you wear on your wrist for easy control of the camera from a distance. That’s cool. Price is $498.00.

B&H Link: Sony FDR-X1000V

Phase One

Phase One

Phase One aerial cameras.

Phase One just announced the iXU 180 drone camera with 80 MP CCD sensor. The price is $60k. Yes, $60,000 USD! These products are designed specifically for aerial imaging where you need the utmost in image quality for applications like surveying, scientific analysis, wind turbine inspections, crowd monitoring, and mapping.

Read more about the iXU 180 here: Phase One Industrial Imaging

Canon

Canon XC10

Canon XC10 4k camera.

Canon XC10 4K camera with a 1” sensor. This is a small form factor camera with a 24-240mm zoom lens. It has the ability to shoot 4k video, 12MP stills and grab 8MP JPGs during live recording. It is smaller than 5” in all dimensions and just under two pounds, so it could be mounted on medium to larger drones such as hexa-copters and octa-copters. Price is a very reasonable $2,499 with free shipping from Adorama and B&H.

Adorama Link: Canon XC10

B&H Link: Canon XC10

Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix GH4

Panasonic Lumix GH4.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 has been out for about a year and is commonly used in drone photography because of it’s light weight and 4k video capability. Add to that the fact that you can attach virtually any lens from any manufacturer with an adapter, and you have a powerful video platform. Price is $1,498.

B&H Link: Lumix DMC-GH4

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Micro cinema

Blackmagic Micro Cinema camera.

During the 2015 NAB show (National Association of Broadcasters), Blackmagic announced its new Micro Cinema Camera. The Micro is designed specifically for drone cameras and POV shooting for extreme sports. This little wonder shoots Ultra HD files at 4k 30 fps or can be configured to at 1080p60. Price is set for $1,295.

Product info page: Blackmagic Micro Cinema Product Info

B&H Link: Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera 

DJI Phantom

DJI Phantom 3 pro

DJI Phantom 3 Professional.

DJI’s new Phantom 3 Professional drone comes equipped with a 4k camera on a full 3-axis gimbal. This system offers Lighbridge technology, which allows operators to see what the drone sees in real time, in HD, and from up to a mile away. Price is $1,259.

B&H Link: DJI Phantom 3 Professional

 

 

 





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