Our workshops during the month of March were a great success. We were able to meet up with photographers in Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. It is truly great to see so many enthusiastic photographers all around the USA. The digital photography revolution is marching forward and lots of people are hanging on for the ride! There is a large need for quality instruction and I am grateful that you have chosen Out There Images, Inc. as your photographic training headquarters.
Spring brings along so many photographic opportunities that it is a favorite time of year for me. I love watching the trees blossom, the flowers bloom and the grass turn green. I�ll be outdoors taking as many photos as possible during the next few months and will also be enjoying the warmer weather and longer days. In this month�s newsletter, I spend some time talking about macro photographic techniques for spring flowers while also covering one of Nikon�s new cameras, the D200 digital SLR.
Over the next few months, I�ll be meeting up with many of you in Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Portland and Florida. I look forward to meeting all the new faces and also refreshing old acquaintances.
A bit of news: we�ve just entered into a great new business arrangement with two companies that provide excellent products for photographers. The first is with iView Media who produces excellent digital asset management software for photographers. We are able to offer their new product, iView Media Pro3 for 15% off of retail. Also, we have partnered with Think Tank Photo to offer free products for workshop participants who buy $50 or more through Think Tank. These programs will be rolling out during April. Watch our website News (www.outthereimages.com/news.html) page for updates.
Digital Tidbits: Nikon D200 Digital SLR Overview
Nikon�s newest digital SLR is the D200 is an amazing piece of technology. Somehow, Nikon has managed to pack in most of the D2X camera�s capability into a camera not much bigger than the D70. The street price for the D200 is currently somewhere around $1700, and in my opinion is well worth it.
My early test shots with the camera have so far proven that Nikon has created another camera system that I can fully trust. It has a beautiful image processor and great resolution at 10MP. See the macro test shots below that were taken on March 28th, 2006 with the D200. The images are shown directly out of the camera with absolutely no Photoshop manipulation – just sized down for display on internet.
The D200 fits my hand just perfectly and has all the control buttons in exactly the right places. I especially like the fact that the exterior buttons are nice and big. Also, the rubberized coating on the body makes gripping the camera very easy and reassuring.
One of the features of the D200 that I appreciate is the built-in commander flash unit. Many of the people who have attended my workshops know that I definitely don�t advocate the use of the pop-up flash. However, in the case of the D200, the pop-up flash can be used as a commander unit to control two separate groups of remote flashes. The D70 will only allow control of one group of flash on Channel 3 Group A, but the D200 allows two groups on four different channels. Also, the D200 comes with a �repeat flash� option that will allow stroboscopic effects. Cool.
Just like the D2X, the D200 comes with its own programmable FUNC button. On my D2X, I like to assign the High Speed Crop (HSC) mode to the FUNC button. The D200 doesn�t have this HSC mode, so I have programmed the FUNC to activate the spot meter. This means that I can keep the camera in Matrix meter mode for most of my shooting, but then when I need the precision of spot meter, I press the FUNC button and briefly activate the spot meter.
Autofocus on the D200 is very quick and the 11 autofocus regions will be a big boon for action photography. As with the D2X, the D200 has four different AF modes: Single area, Dynamic area, Group dynamic area and closest subject. I typically use Group Dynamic for general shooting and then switch to single Dynamic when I need precise focusing.
The camera will photograph at 5 frames per second which is just great for most action photography. It will also photograph up to 100 images in a row during the shooting sequence, which is a boon for people who need to shoot long action sequences. Also, the camera has a mirror lockup function to allow for reduced vibration during critical photos such as close-ups or telephoto pics.
The playback screen on the back of the camera is nice and big! It is a pleasure to look at the images and zoom in to check the sharpness of your images. Also, the menu screens are very easy to read, with nice big letters. That�s a good thing for those of us who are optically challenged (i.e. wear glasses). However, one drawback of the big screen is the low battery life that results from it. Most people are finding that they only get about 200 to 250 shots per battery charge out of the D200 in real world shooting. You�ll get a lot more life out of the camera if you don�t chimp, but those of us who shot with the D2X and the D70 have been spoiled with much longer battery life.
Another neat function on the D200 is the ability to shoot in black and white mode. While this isn�t a new feature for digital cameras, it is kind of nice to be able to photograph directly in black and white rather than convert it later in Photoshop. I haven�t had enough time to really explore the capabilities of the black and white mode, but in the limited shooting I�ve done, this mode looks to hold some promise for rich blacks and subtle tonal gradations.
The last item I wanted to cover is the excellent white balance options available. As most of you know, I look don�t recommend using Auto WB for critical shooting. Rather, I suggest that you either choose a WB setting (like Cloudy -1 for travel) or do a Preset WB (for studio work). The D200 has no less than 5 (five!) preset memory locations that will allow you to save WB data for recall in the future. This capability is great for photographers who frequently return to a shooting location and want the ability to recall the best WB setting for that location. Add to this, the additional ability to dial in a Kelvin value, and you have a camera worthy of joining the professional ranks!
I am very impressed with the D200. It is fast, it is light and it is accurate. This is a recipe for success as far as I am concerned. The fact that it also produces great images means that it will travel with me in my camera bag for a long time.
Photo Techniques – Spring Flower and Plant Photography
Spring is a fantastic time of year to take outdoor photos. There aren�t many things I enjoy more than getting outside to explore the new plant life while endeavoring to capture it on film. Getting great macro shots of plants requires some specialized equipment and some basic compositional rules to make the photo work out.
Equipment is almost always the first thing that people want to know about when it comes to macro work. I like to keep my system as simple as possible. I don�t own any macro lenses, but rather use extension tubes. I own the Kenko extension tubes that come in a set of three thicknesses. You can find the entire set at just about any camera store for around $150. The reason I purchased the Kenko tubes is because they allow full auto focus and metering with all my Nikon lenses. For some reason, Nikon didn�t design their tubes to allow metering and auto focus. Go figure.
I use the extension tubes on almost all of my lenses and consistently get great results. I especially like to use the tubes on my 80-200 f2.8 as the depth of field can be very narrow.
Next, you�ll need a good tripod that will allow you to get low to the ground. I really like the Gitzo Mountaineer series of carbon fiber tripods because of their great strength to weight ratio. Their tripods are very well thought out and very durable.
One of the simplest, but most effective tools I use is a 12� Photoflex light disk. It folds up nice an small so that I can store it in my bag, but then opens up to 12� diameter when I need additional light on the subject. One side is gold and the other is silver. I love to add in an extra amount of light that frequently gives a photo the punch it needs. See the photo for an example of how I use it in my photography.
Finally, the last piece of gear that I recommend is a cable release or a self-timer. You�ll find that camera shake will ruin your best efforts unless you do everything possible to prevent it. I like to use mirror lockup and a cable release for my critical macro shots. I use the Nikon MC-30 shutter release cable for my D200 and D2X. When I�m shooting with the D70, I will use the camera�s self timer and set it for a 2 second delay. This allows me to trigger the camera and then take my hands away while it shoots.
As for macro technique, I like to align the film plane of the camera to the plant that I�m photographing. If you aren�t careful, then you�ll find that just one segment of the plant will be in focus and the rest will be out of focus. By aligning the back of the camera to the plant�s stem, you�ll get more of the leaves or petals in detail.
When composing the photograph, try to place the flower or leaf off to one side of the image. Also, don�t be afraid to make the stem a compositional element by running it diagonally through the image. All the traditional compositional rules apply to macro photography, such as the rule of thirds, leading lines and appropriate use of negative space.
Get the background to be consistent in color. The more cluttered it is, the less the shot will work. I like to use solid green grass or blue water or dark shadows for my backgrounds. I move around with my camera to make sure that the background looks nice and smooth. Next, I�ll press the Depth of Field Preview button on the camera to make sure that there isn�t anything that will show up and detract from the composition.
Another great tip is to make sure that your background is as far away as possible. I like it when I can get my subject at least 5 feet away from the background and feel even better when the background is 10 to 20 feet away. A clear blue sky can also be a great background if you don�t mind photographing �up� at flowers that are on the ground. One of the most difficult situations you run across in macro work is when your flower is on the ground right next to an ugly bunch of ground cover. If that situation arises, then get your camera lower to the ground and shoot at a low angle to try and provide some additional separation.
Finally, be on the lookout for water droplets on your plants, because they can really help your macro work go from mediocre to fantastic. Everyone loves to look at lush photos of foliage, so try to include some water in the photo. If you can�t find it naturally, then bring along a spray bottle and douse your plant with some H2O.
I encourage you to have patience and be persistent with your macro work. Hold yourself to a high standard and don�t give up until you achieve it.
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. The workshops we held last month in Los Angeles at Samys Camera (www.samys.com) and in the Bay area were great fun. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We’ll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
– Photoshop for Photographers
– Nikon Capture
– Nikon D70
– iTTL Flash system.
The dates and cities will be:
Apr 20-23 Houston
Apr 27-30 Dallas/Fort Worth
May 25-28 Ft. Lauderdale
Jun 8-11 Phoenix
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area
The Art of Travel Workshops
Our premier 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 (http://www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We�ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html
Our next Photoshop workshop dates are April 5, 6, 7 in Seattle and May 19, 20 in Portland. We have additional Photoshop workshops in Seattle during September 7th – 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction � Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can�t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)
Nikon D200 Workshops
We�ll be offering workshops on this camera beginning in June �06 and extending into 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_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
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. We�ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you’ll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/digital_workflow.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. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html
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.
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.
I greatly appreciate your kind words of encouragement and enthusiasm to learn. Keep shooting and keep learning. I hope to see you out in the field or in one of our exciting workshops.
Out There Images – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335