I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s Holiday. We spent our Christmas with family and friends and were able to enjoy this season of giving and celebration.

We’ve been hard at work creating new digital workshops, writing a how-to book on the Nikon SB-600 and SB-800 flashes (www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html) as well as firming up details for our 2006 Nikonians Tour that will bring us to many major cities in the USA, Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We work extremely hard to bring you the very best in digital training by cutting through all the rumors, random commentary and incorrect information. All of our workshop in 2006 will be specific, focused and to the point so that you learn what you need to know in order to succeed as a digital artist. We have an exciting year ahead of us in 2006 and we hope you can join us in one of our workshops!

Photo Techniques: Simplify
There are many truths in photography that should generally be followed. One of these truths is that �simpler is better.� You have no doubt seen photos you liked and were impressed by the powerful colors or drama created by the strong lines. More often than not, the photographer worked very hard to eliminate distracting elements that would otherwise take away from the dramatic composition.

I approach all my photos thinking not only about what I should include, but also about what I should eliminate. In fact, I frequently will look at a composition and the first thought into my mind is �what doesn�t belong in this photo?� This decision is just as important as deciding what does belong in the photo.

All of my compositions are boiled down to the essential elements of the scene. For example, if you are shooting a photograph of a forest, then you need to ask yourself: what are the critical elements that define a forest? In my case, I imagine a forest consisting of trees. It is easy to run into a grove of trees and snap a picture, but it is much more difficult to boil down a forest to its basic element � trees. The photo examples I included here show a progression from a cluttered image to a fairly simple image.

This stand of trees was in a local park about two miles from my house. The land was donated to the community by a long-time resident and has three or four miles of trails accessible to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. A few weeks ago, I took my children for a hike through this small forest and was impressed by its simple beauty. I promised myself that I would go back again on a foggy day to try and capture a shot that said �forest.�

I decided that my final image was going to be trees in the fog, and nothing else. A nice foggy day in December arrived, so I started taking photos of the forest with my camera. The initial shots were �ok� but many images contained too much clutter like brush and broken limbs. After hiking around for a few hours and searching the forest to find an uncluttered stand of trees, I finally had my composition. I slowly walked to the left and right until I found a spot that had a minimum number of trees that overlapped each other. At that point, I set my camera on my tripod and took a horizontal composition and a vertical composition. I liked the horizontal photo best, so I cropped it in Photoshop to further simplify the photograph. It isn�t perfect and I think there is still room for improvement, but I like its simplicity.

The second set of examples I have to show how simplifying your composition can help the image are the dock cleat photos. The first photo was taken while standing up with a 24-120mm lens. I saw the red rope and thought it would make a nice photo, so I tried composing the cleat at a 45 degree angle to add drama, but in the end, the photo doesn�t really work. So, I thought about how to further simplify the composition and I immediately decided to eliminate the dock all together.

I attached an 80-200 f2.8 lens and laid my camera down on the dock. I shot with an aperture of f3.2 to make sure the background boats were completely blown out of focus. Now you can see the loops of the dock line as they zigzag around the cleat. The photo illustrates the simple beauty of a modern tool.

Digital Tidbits: Calibrate Your Monitor
One of the most frequent complaints I hear in digital photography is �my prints never match my computer monitor!� I hear this in just about every single workshop I lead, whether it is for Photoshop or digital SLRs or Travel Photography. I find that all across this beautiful country of ours, people are frustrated with their prints.

Take heart my friends, it doesn�t have to be this way! There is a very simple solution that will greatly improve your prints whether you are printing at home or printing at the local lab. The answer to most (not all) of your frustrations is to calibrate your computer monitor. This simple act will solve 90% of all your color problems and will save you countless hours of headache.

One frequent comment that people make to me is that get good results printing on their home printer, but bad results printing at the local lab. When I ask a few more questions, I find that these individuals have run enough tests at home to know how their printer will respond. For example, they might know that the printer will render everything a little bit redder than they see on the screen, so they add a little blue color correction to all their photos to compensate. They are managing their colors the hard way � manually!

The best way to manage your colors is to calibrate your monitor to a known standard. This way, when you see a certain shade of blue on the screen, you know that it is the same blue as everyone else should see on their monitors and their printers. Calibrating your monitor with a calibration tool ensures that all colors, not just blue, are showing at the correct brightness and hue.

A good monitor calibration kit will help you adjust your monitor�s brightness and contrast while also creating a new �profile� for the colors. This profile is specific to your monitor and is loaded every time you fire up your computer. The computer uses this profile to tell the monitor how to display the colors accurately. These profiles are actually called �ICC Profiles� and are named after the International Color Consortium (www.color.org). When you create the new profile, the colors are based on an international standard. As long as everyone uses this standard, then we can be pretty confident that your colors will match my colors and the lab�s colors.

Since all monitors slowly degrade over time, it is important to recalibrate your monitor on a regular basis. I recommend recalibrating about once every two to three weeks. Calibration works best if your monitor has both brightness and contrast controls. It also works on LCD and CRT displays. Laptops are notoriously hard to calibrate properly, so I don�t recommend doing any of your high-end Photoshop work on a laptop screen.

There are a number of different types of calibration tools available and all are extremely easy to use. There are �standard� and �pro� versions that each offer different levels of control. If you are getting into color management for the first time, then I recommend buying a �standard� version and save a few hundred dollars in the process. Most calibration tools cost in the neighborhood of $150 – $300 and are more than worth the price for the benefit they provide. I personally like the Monaco Optix XR system (from X-Rite Photo, www.xritephoto.com), but also have lots of praise for the Gretag MacBeth Eye-One Display 2 (www.i1color.com). Both of these tools will greatly enhance your color accuracy and will solve many of your color management issues.

Workshop Updates:

Photoshop Workshops
We have a number of Photoshop workshops scheduled for 2006 in the Seattle area as well as in many major cities throughout the USA. Our next workshop is scheduled for 1/13 � 1/14 in Seattle, WA. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we have created an additional Photoshop workshop called “Photoshop III”. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html

Digital Workflow
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don’t spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great “nuts and bolts” tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. Digital workflow will be offered in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR in January and February as well as later in the year. I guarantee you’ll enjoy this day. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.html

The Art of Travel Workshops
Start planning now to attend one of our 2006 Art of Travel workshops. We’ll hold them in two beautiful locations. The first workshop will be held in St. Croix from May 31st – June 4th. We’ll be discovering the beautiful landscapes and people of the Virgin Islands while learning the art and craft of digital photography. This workshop will be run in conjunction with the Nikonians (see below).

The second Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st – 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We’ll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html

Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html

Nikonians Workshops
We have teamed up with The Nikonians again for 2006. We’ll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. Later in the year we’ll be covering the Nikon D200 camera system. Our workshops will be:
– Photoshop for Photographers
– Nikon Capture
– Nikon D70
– iTTL Flash system.

The dates and cities will be:
Feb 16-19 Las Vegas
Mar 2-5 Los Angeles
Mar 9-12 San Francisco
Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC
TBD: Chicago area
TBD: Phoenix

Also, we’ll be offering an exciting Travel Photography workshop in St. Croix (May 31st – June 4th, 2006) as part of the Nikonians Masters Photography Program Certification.

Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: www.greaterphoto.com

Also, head to our website for additional information: www.outthereimages.com/nikonians_workshop.html

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. Our Seattle first Seattle iTTL date is 1/28/06 and our Portland date is 2/4/06. www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html

Nikon D2X/D2Hs
Nikon’s flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.

Private Tutoring
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming 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.

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. I enjoy hearing of your photographic adventures, so keep those emails coming!

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
[email protected]

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