Nikon D750 Setup Guide Posted

Posted October 1st, 2014 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Nikon D750 Setup Guide

We’ve just posted the new Nikon D750 Setup Guide here: Nikon D750 Setup Guide.

After using the camera for a few days, I can honestly say that it is a winner. Truly, a great camera in almost every way. I’ll be writing more about it in the days and months to come.

Our Nikon camera setup guides are designed to help users setup their cameras for different shooting scenarios such as sports, action, landscapes, travel, portraits, weddings, and point & shoot. You can download a PDF for free, or order a laminated version for $6.50. These guides have been used by thousands of photographers across the world to help make sense of their camera systems.

Nikon D750

 





Blue-footed Booby as the Hunter

Posted September 24th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

The Galapagos Islands are known around the world for their diversity of wildlife and unique animals. One of the more unique birds in the area is the blue-footed booby. They are known for their bright blue webbed feet and funny mating dance where they sway from side to side, lifting their feet high into the air. Even though the blue-footed booby has a range extending from the Gulf of California down through Peru, the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador have capitalized on their presence and made the bird species famous.

blue-footed booby on rocks

The blue-footed booby is an impressive hunter. You’d never guess by their somewhat silly looks and their bright blue feet.

Watching a booby hunt is great fun because the entire process is very dramatic. Their hunting method is called plunge diving, which means the birds fly in circles above their fishing grounds, then suddenly turn and aggressively dive towards the water. Immediately before hitting the water, they fold their wings back and plunge into the sea with a loud thunk! They hit the water at speeds up to about 60 mph and can go to depths as far as 80 feet under the surface while chasing their prey of sardines, mackerel, flying fish and anchovies. They often eat their prey under water, then pop to the surface to continue hunting.

Photographing the sequence of a hunting blue footed booby is quite challenging. Since you never really know when they are going to turn and dive, you end up panning left to right with their movement for quite some time. Then, somewhat suddenly, they stop their forward flight and arc over to dive directly into the water below. Their flight pattern transitions from normal forward flight at 15 mph, to almost a full stop, then to rapid acceleration in a vertical dive at speeds of 60 mph. For the shots below, I configured my camera’s autofocus system in continuous servo, then work very hard to keep the main autofocus point directly on the flying bird. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to keep the AF sensor on the bird throughout the dive, so I like to use Dynamic AF (21 point) or Group AF for additional help from the camera’s intelligent AF sensors.

Because the bird moves so fast, I like to frame the images slightly loose in the camera, then crop them later in post processing. In the case of this sequence (below), I shot these with my Nikon D800, Nikon 200-400mm f/4 and Nikon 1.4x TC. I handheld the camera so I could respond quicker to the bird’s movements. I also used a fast shutter speed of 1/3200 second in order to freeze the motion for the sharpest picture possible.

hagen_140908-324

Here, the blue-footed booby has identified its prey below and is preparing to dive.

blue-footed booby arc

Here, the blue-footed booby has arced over and started its dive towards the fish below

blue-footed booby

The dive begins. At this point, the blue-footed booby is flying about 15 mph.

blue-footed booby

At this point in the dive, the blue-footed booby is flying about 45 mph and is still targeting the fish underwater.

blue-footed booby tuck

Just prior to hitting the water, the booby tucks its wings. When it does hit, the wings are fully swept back and the bird looks just like a torpedo. It hits the water at 60 mph with a loud thunk.

blue-footed booby splash

The final image is the perfectly circular splash as the booby disappears under the surface in pursuit of its prey.

 

 

 

 





Profoto B1 AirTTL for Nikon

Posted September 3rd, 2014 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography  |  Permalink
ProFoto B1 AirTTL

Soccer player taken with Profoto B1 500 AirTTL location kit. These are battery powered 500 Ws flashes that work under TTL control with Nikon dSLR cameras.

Profoto just sent me a prototype lighting kit to test called the Profoto B1 AirTTL. This is a brand-new wireless battery-powered off-camera flash that is designed to work with the Nikon camera system under full TTL control. Previously, Profoto released a TTL B1 kit for Canon, so this is exciting news for Nikon shooters.

ProFoto AirTTL Backpack

The B1 500 AirTTL Location Kit comes with 2 flashes, 2 batteries, chargers and a high-end backpack for easy transport.

I already own a set of Profoto D1 Air studio lights that are powered by traditional A/C electricity. I love the power (energy) and quality of light I get from my Profoto gear, so being able to take a battery-operated off-camera Profoto B1 flash into the field is very cool. Profoto designed the B1 AirTTL lights so that all their light shaping tools work seamlessly, including softboxes, Octas, reflectors, beauty dishes and snoots.

AirTTL in the field

Setting up the AirTTL system on location is easy. Here, I’m using two heads with a Profoto softbox and a ProFoto umbrella.

The specific kit they sent me to test was the B1 500 AirTTL Location Kit. The Location Kit is designed to be a portable lighting system that you can take to a remote location and achieve studio-quality light. The kit contains:
2 x B1 off-camera flashes
2 x batteries
1 x Fast Charger
1 x Car Charger
1 x Tailor-made backpack with room to fit additional gear

Since I’m in-between international trips, I had just a short period of time to learn the B1 AirTTL operation and take some sample shots before having to send the prototype kit back to Profoto HQ. After opening the box and unpacked the gear. I mounted the Air Remote TTL-N control unit on the top of my Nikon D800 and turned on the B1 flashes. Setting up the proper channel and groups for operation was a piece of cake and I started taking photographs immediately.

ProFoto soccer shoot

For this shot, I used two Profoto 500 AirTTL flashes in TTL mode. My camera was the Nikon D800 with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. I set up the exposure for 1/250 second at f/8.0.

If you have used the Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash system, then adapting to the Profoto AirTTL system will be a piece of cake. There are a few hidden menu items that you’ll find by reading the manual, but overall, the system is ingeniously simple to operate.

Here’s a four-minute video giving a quick overview of the B1 AirTTL system. The video shows how to adjust flash settings and how to use the kit with your Nikon camera.

 

The flash heads I tested were the 500Ws units. They are adjustable in 1/10 f-stop increments over a 9-stop power range. These AirTTL units will operate in full manual mode or in full TTL mode. In manual mode operation, you have access to the full 9-stop power range from full power (10) to minimum power (2). In TTL mode, you can adjust the flashes from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV.

AirTTL Control Unit

Two ProFoto 500 AirTTL flash heads shown with a Nikon D800 and the Profoto Air Remote TTL-N control unit.

The TTL system allows remote setting and independent control of three different groups A, B, and C. Profoto has programmed up to 8 channels, so you can share the room with seven other photographers shooting the same system and each can have independent control of three groups of flashes.

Air Remote TTL-N

Here’s the user interface for the Air Remote TTL-N unit. Operation is very simple with button controls for just about everything. Here, I have group A set for +0.8, group B set for -1.3 and group C set for +0.2. The system is set for TTL mode and front curtain sync. The exclamation point means that this is a beta test unit.

Beta test unit

Since this was a beta test unit, the final product might have different or additional features and capabilities when it is released.

I really only had a few hours available for a test shoot, so I photographed a soccer player on a wet asphalt driveway immediately after a rainstorm. The sky was rapidly changing between sunny and cloudy, so shooting the flashes in TTL mode made it incredibly easy to just shoot and go. I used a Profoto 2′x3′ softbox for the key light and a Profoto umbrella for the rim light behind the soccer player.

I had the soccer player pose, run, jump for about 45 minutes. My guess is that I took about 200 shots during testing and real-world shooting. Each B1 battery still had a bit more than 1/3 charge remaining before I called it a day. I’m happy with that performance, considering the battery pack is fairly small and the B1 heads produce up to 500 Ws of energy per pop.

Location soccer portrait

Outdoor location portraits are easy to pull off with the Profoto AirTTL lights. Set ‘em up and shoot!

Profoto has created a high quality, powerful and easy to use location lighting system that I’d take anywhere. The B1 AirTTL flashes were truly a joy to use and I highly recommend them for any pro shooter who wants the best.

You’ll soon be able to purchase your own kit for Nikon at photo retailers everywhere. Here’s a link to the Profoto B1 AirTTL kits at B&H, they should have the Nikon TTL kit available soon:
Profoto AirTTL Lighting Kits at B&H Photo

Here’s a link to the ProFoto Website for more information on the AirTTL system:
Profoto 500 AirTTL Product Information

Serious soccer shot

One final shot for the road.





Traveling to East Africa? Don’t Fear Ebola

Posted August 27th, 2014 by   |  Travel  |  Permalink

Here’s an excellent article from NBC News regarding the ebola virus. It should help rest some fears for those of you considering travel to East Africa for a photo safari. The most important points of the article are related to how the ebola virus spreads and that it is not easy to transmit.

Here’s a direct link to the article: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/why-are-americans-so-scared-ebola-n188806

Ebola_Article





Packing for Iceland

Posted August 8th, 2014 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

I’m packing up for a ten-day photo adventure trip to Iceland with a group of intrepid photographers. Our photographic goals are birds and landscapes, and we’ll be shooting like crazy from sun up to sun down – which is a really long time in the Icelandic summer! Each day will bring puffins, glaciers, icebergs, whales, gannets, skua, volcanoes, sheep and gorgeous light. Can’t wait.

Iceland photo gear

Here’s all the photo and digital gear I’m packing for a ten-day trip to Iceland. Cameras, lenses, tripods and computer.

Here’s the gear I’m bringing for this trip:

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L

Nikon 200-400mm f/4

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8

Nikon 50mm f/1.8

Nikon TC-14E II

Extension Tubes

Nikon SB-910

Nikon TTL Cable

Nikon MC-30 release cable

Nikon D800

Nikon D600

Peak Design Capture Clip Pro and Leash system (use code mhagen for 10% off)

Gitzo Mountaineer Carbon Fiber Tripod

B+W 10 stop ND filter

Canon Vixia HDV Video Camera

Olympus sound recorder

Dead cat (wind muff)

MacBook Pro Retina 15″

Buffalo Thunderbolt 1TB backup drives

Manfrotto 128RC compact video head

Lens pen

Gaffer tape

Protein bars

Plugs and adapters

This year’s trip is sold out, but I have two Iceland photo adventures planned for 2015, one in Winter and the other in Summer. Check them out on our workshops page if you are interested.

 





Free Adobe Guide to Move from Aperture to Lightroom

Posted August 6th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Adobe guide

In June 2014, Apple announced that they would be ceasing future development and support of their Aperture software program. Many current users of Apple Aperture have started moving their libraries to Adobe Lightroom, so Adobe just produced a guide to help photographers who want to make the switch.

The guide, available for free, helps current Aperture users make the transition by defining terms, helping with folder exporting, and helping users understand what will/won’t transfer across. It is interesting to note that in the document Adobe states that they are creating a migration tool at some point in the future. The six page step-by-step guide takes readers through backing up their library, exporting images (originals and versions), and importing into Lightroom.

Click here for the free guide.





Night at the Races

Posted August 5th, 2014 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

A few nights ago I took a quick trip to South Sound Speedway with my son and my father for a boy’s night out. The goal was two-fold: have a great time with the guys and create some compelling racing images.

track pano

Panorama of the South Sound Speedway. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f/2.8. Shots processed in Lightroom 5.6 and then stitched together in Photoshop CC 2014.

The grandstands are set up quite a ways back from the track, so creating clean images of the race cars was actually pretty tough. Because the fence obscured the track on the near side, I knew I’d need to capture the cars as they passed the advertising banners on the far side of the track. Rather than try to crop out the banners, I decided to include them in the image for better overall color.

race cars

Race cars at 1/30 sec and f/5.6. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 with 1.4x TC.

I wanted my shots to convey motion, so I deliberately chose a longer shutter speed of 1/30 second to 1/50 second. Since I was using my 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x teleconverter, I expected quite a few blurry shots as I panned with the cars. I set the camera for continuous frame rate and fired off a series of 5 shots each time the cars passed in front of the advertising signs. By the time the night was over, I had rattled off over 1,000 pictures, but less than half or 1/3 of them were sharp enough to use. The rest were a blurry mess because of the long shutter speed.

Street stock class at sunset

Street stock class racers at sunset. 1/15 sec at f/5.6. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1.4x TC.

The most difficult part of getting shots like these is learning to pan with the motion. If your move your camera at a faster or slower angular rate than the cars, then you’ll get pronounced blur in the cars. If you move at exactly the same rate as the cars, then they will appear sharp while the background will appear blurry. As long as something on the car is sharp, then you’ve done your job well. Even if you have multiple cars in the scene, as long as one of the cars is sharp, then the photo is going to work.

car crash

Car crashes are always a part of auto racing. Here’s a crash at turn one, just after the start of the race. I composed the shot to include the sunset and then relied on the D800′s excellent dynamic range to pull out details in the highlights and shadows.

Car racing at sunset.

For this pic, the sun was filtering through the trees and the infield was filled with haze and smoke from all the racing. The original image looked like a sepia-toned picture, so I took the shot and fully converted it to sepia tone in Lightroom 5.6. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1.4x TC, 1/40 sec at f/6.3.

racing in the USA

One more shot with the American flag for good measure.

 

 

 

 

 





Support for Nikon D810 – Lightroom 5.6, Camera RAW 8.6 and DNG Converter 8.6

Posted July 31st, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Lightroom 5 box

Adobe has released three significant software updates this week to Photoshop, Camera RAW and Lightroom. For Nikon D810 shooters, the updates give them the ability to work on RAW files in a program other than Nikon Capture NX-D.

Lightroom 5.6

Adobe released Lightroom 5.6 today which supports three new cameras, 22 new lenses and fixes a few bugs from previous releases.

Web Links

Information Page

Mac Update

Windows Update

Photoshop CC Camera RAW and DNG Converter

Information Page

Camera RAW 8.6 will update automatically with your Creative Cloud subscription.

DNG Converter 8.6

Mac - http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=5824

Win - http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=5825

Lightroom Update Details

New cameras supported

Nikon D810
Panasonic LUMIX AG-GH4
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000

New Lens Profile Support in Lightroom 5.6

Canon Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
Canon Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
Canon Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD A010E
Canon Tamron 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 DiIII VC B011EM
Nikon Nikon 1 NIKKOR VR 70-300mm f/4.5 – 5.6
Nikon Tamon 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD A010N
Pentax Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A013
Phase One A/S Schneider Kreuznach LS 40-80mm f/4.0-5.6
Sony Alpha Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM A013
Sony Alpha Sony 28mm f/2.8
Sony Alpha Sony 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye
Sony Alpha Sony 100mm f/2.8 MACRO
Sony Alpha Sony DT 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6
Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3
Sony Alpha Sony DT 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3
Sony Alpha Sony 70-200mm f/2.8G
Sony Alpha Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM
Sony Alpha Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM
Sony Alpha Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II
Sony Alpha Sony 135mm f/2.8 [T4.5] STF
Sony Alpha Sony 300mm f/2.8 G SSM II
Sony E Zeiss Touit 2.8/50M





July 2014 Magazine and Editorial Work

Posted July 26th, 2014 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

We’ve been staying busy around here at Visual Adventures. Here are some tear sheets that were published in July, 2014. The first tear sheets shown below were for a fundraiser we photographed for the NW Furniture Bank. These images ran in South Sound Magazine. The second group of tear sheets were for an article on digital asset management that we contributed to Bottom Line Personal Magazine.

As Josef Scaylea said, “Taking pictures is not good enough, get them published!”

mags





Gear for Getting Your Camera Low to the Ground

Posted July 25th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Wildlife  |  Permalink

YouTube_Channel_tilt_650px

We’ve just posted the last of our six videos on gear designed for getting your camera low to the ground. Check out all the videos over at our YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MikeHagenPhoto

Our videos from this series covered a wide gamut of gear ranging from high-end to low budget. Here’s the list:

Kirk Mighty Low Boy (Video LinkPurchase)

Mini Tripods (Video LinkPurchase)

Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod (Video LinkPurchase)

Kirk Low Pod PO-2 (Video LinkPurchase)

Kirk Window Mount WM-2 (Video LinkPurchase)

Joby Gorillapod Focus (Video Link Purchase)

In case you want to watch all the videos on this site, here they are:





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