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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 ([email protected]) 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 ([email protected]) if you are interested or would like to see pictures of the gear.
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.
Out There Images – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335