Over the last year, I’ve been working with CreativeLive to teach a wide variety of classes aimed at helping photographers become proficient shooters. The topics range from panoramas to studio photography to Nikon wireless flash and autofocus. CreativeLive is one of the premiere educational platforms available today and I’m proud to be a part of their team of high-caliber professional educators.
Here are links to the current classes posted at CreativeLive.com. Be sure to check out classes from their other instructors as well!
Here are the classes and links.
Check out our May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter for great articles on photo technique as well as updates on our trips.
In this Newsletter:
– Stuff I Like This Month
– May GOAL Assignment: Shoot at High ISO
– Photo Techniques: Three Steps to a Beautiful White Background
– Digital Tidbits: Analog Efex Pro 2
– Photo Techniques: Telling a Simple Story Through Photos
– Workshop and Business Updates
Last week I took a short trip to Bellingham, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia armed with with only a small point and shoot camera. The purpose of the trip was mountain biking and cycling, so I wanted to travel light but still be able to create some nice images. My camera muse for the weekend was the Canon S110 (now the S120) pocket camera that is capable of shooting RAW files. I’ve owned this camera for about two years now and am generally happy with it for simple shooting tasks like birthday parties, selfies at restaurants, or quick grab shots while on a walk.
As fun as this camera is to use however, the image quality just doesn’t compare to my larger DSLR cameras. That’s ok though, because I love the tiny size compared to my larger dSLR cameras, and mountain biking with a full-sized professional dSLR & 24-70mm f/2.8 can be difficult at best. I frequently take my big dSLR cameras on big adventures, but on trips like these you have to decide what’s more important: creating images for your portfolio or having fun doing the actual adventure. For last week’s trip, I was riding along with my son, so the priority was on having fun cycling and touring together.
Since I know the Canon S110 won’t produce images on par with my larger dSLR cameras, I tend to use the camera in different ways. For example, rather than trying to create single shots of action or street scenes, I find I get the most satisfaction by creating panoramas, black and white images or creative closeups/macros. In other words, I shy away from the single shot and plan for a bit more work after the fact in the digital dark room.
Traveling with a small camera is great fun and can be quite liberating. In this case, I used my Peak Design Capture Clip system to hold the camera on my backpack strap. It was always ready to shoot and because it was so small, it never got in the way. I encourage all of you to leave the big dSLR camera at home for a day and shoot with a tiny point and shoot.
A few days ago while flying from Seattle to Salt Lake City, our airplane passed over the Cascade Mountains. I took about ten photographs of the mountain range, but knew that they weren’t going to amount to much because of the hazy sky. After returning from my trip, I decided to take a swing at creating a usable image from my original RAW file using Adobe Lightroom 5 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.
The reason hazy photographs look drab is that they lack contrast. In other words, the image doesn’t have significant separation between the shadows and the highlights. This low contrast scenario is readily apparent if you look at the histogram. Notice how in the original picture, the histogram is bunched up in the middle of the graph. This means that the shadows are not black and the highlights aren’t white.
The solution to giving your image more contrast is to spread out the histogram so the shadows are darker and the highlights are brighter. There are a few ways to do this, but the quickest and easiest is to simply adjust the contrast slider in your editing program. The contrast tool is a fairly blunt tool and I rarely recommend using it because it doesn’t have much finesse. However, in a situation like this photograph, I recommend it. Increasing the contrast effectively spreads out the histogram so the highlights are brighter and the shadows are darker.
The next step is to add some micro-contrast so features like mountain ridges have more definition. Do this by increasing the Clarity slider or by adjusting Structure in plugins like the Nik Collection.
Finally, to really make a hazy photograph look good, my suggestion is to convert it to black and white. I’ve found that color photographs tend not to look great when they started as very hazy images. Converting the image to B&W allows you to add even more contrast without messing with the saturation or color balance of the image.
We’ve just posted a new promotion video for our book Thousands of Images, Now What? Here’s the link to watch the video and learn about the book.
The March 2011 Out There Images, Inc. Newsletter is live over at the main site. This month we cover some great new topics:
– Book Review: Exploring North American Landscapes by Marc Muench
– February GOAL Assignment: The Defining Characteristic
– March GOAL Assignment: Triptychs
– Photo Techniques: Shooting a Play
– Digital Tidbits: Getting the Red Out
– Workshop and Business Updates
Follow this link to read the newsletter: http://www.outthereimages.com/11_03_newsletter.html
I’m posting new workshops for 2010 over at Nikonians Academy. Right now, I have dates for:
1/28/10 – 1/31/10 in Atlanta, GA
2/4/10 – 2/7/10 in Orlando, FL
2/25/10 – 2/28/10 in Los Angeles, CA
3/18/10 – 3/21/10 in New York, NY
3/25/10 – 3/28/10 in Boston, MA (will be posted in next day or so)
4/16/10 – 4/19/10 in Seattle, WA
5/20/10 – 5/23/10 in Houston, TX (will be posted in next day or so)
5/27/10 – 5/30/10 in Dallas, TX (will be posted in next day or so)
6/10/10 – 6/13/10 in Portland, OR (will be posted in next day or so)
I’ll be teaching a variety of topics on Nikon cameras, Nikon wireless flash system and Nikon Capture NX2.
See you soon!
Today’s mail run brought some new toys! I just set up the Macintosh wireless bluetooth keyboard and mouse for use with my MacBook Pro and am lovin’ it! For the last few months, I have been using an older Microsoft wireless mouse, but that required use of a USB fob that always took up one of my precious two USB ports on the MacBook. I was always unplugging my mouse to plug in another disk drive or card reader.
Since the Mac Mighty Mouse is connected via bluetooth, it doesn’t use one of my communication ports and life is good. Well, pretty good. So far, I like how simple it is to connect the mouse to the computer. Just click on the bluetooth connections and tell the Mac to connect. Done! What I don’t like is that the Mighty Mouse feels big and clunky compared to my previous Microsoft mouse. In fact, the MS mouse was very comfortable and light weight. It seemed to be just perfect. I guess I need to find another bluetooth mouse that is lighter weight and a bit more ergonomically comfortable.
The other tool I received today was the Mac Wireless Keyboard. Everything about it is perfect as far as I am concerned. Turn it on. Connect. Go. The keys feel perfect and the angle of the keyboard is perfect. It is well designed and simple to use. Good job Apple. I’m impressed.
Both the keyboard and mouse automatically power down when they aren’t in use. Both wake up instantly when you begin using them.
Below, you can see how I have my computer desk setup. MacBook Pro on the left. Eizo CE210W on the right. Mac Wireless Keyboard and Mouse on the pullout tray.
I’m out doing some work today for a new book project with Rocky Nook. I took this image of the New Oregon fishing boat by hoisting my Nikon D90 digital camera into the air with a home-made DIY aerial photography monopod. I made the monopod out of a paint roller extension handle from the Home Depot which allows me to raise the camera about 20′ into the air. To get the shot, I put the Nikon D90 on self timer with a five second delay.
I converted the image to Black and White in Nikon Capture NX 2 and added some extra contrast to the sky using the Selection Brush tool.
Here are a couple of other versions of the same file. The first is with a bit of a softening filter. The second is a color image.
Just received a great question from Danny regarding online data storage.
Always appreciate and enjoy your newsletters. Do you use and/or recommend/discourage any of the online backup/restore services like Carbonite or Mosy? I gotta do “something” beyond my on-site hard drive mirroring using external drives. Want to cover my assets in case of fire or theft.
I’d appreciate your thoughts when you get a few moments.
Hi Danny –
I don’t use the online backup places for one significant reason: the amount of time it takes to upload/download data. Even over the fastest internet connections, transferring 1TB of data can take multiple hours and days. If my on-site disk drive fails it usually happens when I need the data the most. These things always happen when you are finishing a project for a client or trying to meet a deadline. Remember, Murphy’s Law is always in effect! Because of this, I don’t want to wait days (or even hours) to download my backup information.
I think the best solution is to create an off-site drive that is a clone of your on-site hard drive. Bring your off-site drive into the office once per week for data synchronization. Then, move it off-site immediately for safe keeping.
If disaster strikes my on-site drive, then I can quickly go grab the off-site backup and be back up and running in a matter of one hour.