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?
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
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
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 ([email protected]) 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!”
Out There Images – “Get Out And Learn!”