Hello my friends! Spring is in full swing and I am having a blast photographing flowers, people and places. I enjoy this time of year so much and having the ability to photograph it is a true blessing!
I just returned from a four day Art of Travel Photography workshop in the Columbia River Gorge. The wildflowers were spectacular this year in Oregon and we had an incredible time waking up before sunrise and going to bed long after sunset. The people who attended were wonderful, the food was great and I will remember the time we spent together for a long, long time.
We are already planning our 2008 Columbia Gorge workshops and will probably have two Gorge photography tours. One during the last week of April and another perhaps in May or June.
Remember that we have one more Art of Travel Photography workshop this year in Mazama, Washington this September. We have one or two seats remaining, so if you are holding off, don�t wait too much longer! You can see more details here: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html
There are many of you are interested in Private Workshops and I wanted to let you know that this popular option is still available. Typically, people coordinate a date with me and we spend one or two days going over specific topics as they relate to your needs. Popular topics are Nikon/Canon camera operation, wireless flash setup, studio lighting and Photoshop. Feel free to contact me at any time if you�d like more information or want to sign up.
Our iTTL Wireless Flash eBook is still selling well. You can find information on this eBook on our information page at www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html.
We have a couple of other titles in the works that I hope to have available later this summer. The first one to be ready will be called �Digital Asset Management for the Rest of Us�. It will be focused on how to create an easy-to-use organizational system for your digital files. My hope is to create a resource that is applicable for folks who don�t need all the bells and whistles that a professional photographer would require. It will include topics such as organizing, filing, software choices, naming conventions, etc.
Finally, just a note to let you know that May is a pretty busy month for me. I�ll be leading workshops in Seattle, New York and Boston. I hope you�ll understand if it takes a couple days to get back to your emails.
April GOAL Assignment Review: A Day in the Life
Last month, I asked you to spend a day photographing a specific subject. How did you do? Personally, I spent a day photographing my daughter and came away with some great new photographs. It is amazing to see how many moods a four year old girl goes through in the course of 12 hours! (See photos to the left)
My purpose for giving this GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment was to encourage you to go beyond the easy shots and explore your subject in more detail. By spending time with the subject, you are far more aware of subtleties that you could never find by just arriving on the scene and taking a few pictures.
The more I work as a photographer, the more I find that immersing myself in a location or subject is critical to getting good shots that tell a story. The longer I am photographing a scene or a person, the more mood and emotion I am able to show in my resulting photographs. It is when I am rushed or in a hurry that I get snapshots and not great photographs.
In this day and age of �hurry up and go�, I find it hard to �slow down and wait�, and I know you do too! So, take some time with your photography to slow down and explore. Look at different angles. Consider different lenses. Wait until a different part of the day. Use a different lighting scenario like a window, flash or light bulb.
For the �Day in the Life� of my daughter, I photographed her as she woke up in the morning, as she combed her hair, brushed her teeth, ate breakfast, played in the rain and accompanied me on an errand to the local hardware store. I was also able to photograph her as she gave our wonderful neighbor a 90th birthday card. It was fun to watch the interplay between a 90 year old woman and a four year old girl as they laughed about life.
By taking a day to photograph these precious moments, I now have captured memories that will last forever. My next step is to put these pictures into something a bit more formal. My plan is to make a bound book by using an online service. I have a few favorites and recommend:
– www.MPix.com. They will make hard cover books for $30.00 and soft cover books for $20.00. If I want to add extra pages, they charge $0.50 per page. The base book is 20 pages.
– www.shutterfly.com. Their books start at $29.99 and include a cutout on the front page that shows a photo from the first page.
– www.photoworks.com. They have a simple to use interface and an easy ordering system. Prices also start at $29.99.
By making a �Day in the Life� memory book for my daughter, she�ll have this day for the rest of her life.
May GOAL Assignment: Create Beautiful Photos at High Noon
One of the most difficult scenarios to photograph is one where you have bright, contrasty lighting at high noon. Most of the �bad� photographs I�ve taken in my life were a result of underexposure due to severe �noon-light-itus�.
My GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment for you is to be able to create beautiful photos under what most photographers consider horrible conditions. When I lead travel photography workshops I try hard to show people that great photographs can be taken in all hours and all lighting conditions. One of the common �excuses� photographers make is that we can only take photographs in beautiful light like at sunrise and sunset. Yes, there is some truth to that, but at the same time, if you are at the Eiffel Tower at high noon, then let�s learn how to take great photographs at high noon!
Next month, I�ll include a bunch of solutions for taking pictures at high noon. Until then, take a look at the yellow balsamroot flower to the left that was taken a few days ago in �severe clear� conditions. Also, see the photo of “Joe” the beekeeper playing the harmonica which was also taken in the bright sunlight.
Laptop Review: Alienware Area 51 17� Laptop.
(note: see images to the left) After months of working with a �slow� laptop, I decided to order a new powerhouse Alienware Area 51 computer. You can see all of Alienware�s offerings here: www.alienware.com. I have been doing quite a bit of research to find something that was fast and upgradeable. There are a few options from companies like Dell, Gateway and Toshiba, but I never found something with the right mix of price, capability and easy field upgrades.
For example, I wanted to be able to do my own RAM installations, hard drive swaps and video card upgrades in the future. As we all know, current prices will drop precipitously throughout the next year and the same super-duper video card that costs $500 now will be down to $250 in just six months. So, after much investigation, I decided on purchasing the Alienware Area 51 laptop with 17� screen. Their systems are really directed towards the gamer crowd, so their graphics packages and RAM capabilities are perfect for digital editing purposes.
I custom ordered my system to include Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Windows Vista, Seagate 100GB 7200 rpm disk drive, DVD+/-RW optical drive, and ATI X1800 video card. I bought the laptop with the minimum 1GB RAM because I know that I could buy it much cheaper at a computer supply store than have Alienware upgrade it for me. In order to get 4GB of RAM from Alienware, it would have cost over $1200 just for the RAM. So, I went to Fry�s Electronics store and purchased 4GB of notebook memory for $400 and installed it myself! With that amount of savings, I should go out and buy a new camera lens!
Since everything else can be easily switched in the future, I�ll probably upgrade to a faster Core 2 Duo processor, a bigger hard drive and a faster graphics card next year when prices come down again.
How about performance? Well so far, I am very impressed. Last night I processed a bunch of D2X RAW files by opening them up in Capture NX, converting them to 16 bit TIFFs and then sending them to Photoshop CS2. At the same time, I was running Adobe Bridge, iView Media Pro 3, email, two web browsers and a three or four programs in the background. The computer handled it all amazingly well! It processed the images very quickly with no hang-ups. With my previous system, I had to close down all accessory programs and could only run one photo editor at a time. Life is good.
Downloading photographs from my memory cards is much faster than my old machine. Also, transferring large amounts of photos (10GB ~ 20GB) from external drive to external drive now takes about half the time as before. Most of the online reviews for the Area 51 performance at the top of the list for speed. So far, I fully concur with their findings. I can�t believe what I�ve been missing all these years!
It took me about one day to get the Area 51 set up and ready to go. I had to transfer all the programs, data and files from my previous computer. This included setting all system preferences, registering software with vendors, testing Vista compatibility with my office printers, projectors, etc. I was actually very surprised at how easy the transition from my previous Windows XP machine to this new Windows Vista machine.
The Alienware Area 51 laptop uses DVI video output (digital) rather than the older VGA video (analog) so I get much better resolution and control when I�m showing my images on monitors, projectors or HDTV screens. Along these lines, one of the things I really like about this new computer is how easy it is to use two screens at the same time. I basically plug in my Eizo ColorEdge CE210W (www.eizo.com) monitor into the DVI port on my Alienware laptop and then Vista brings up a window asking me if I want to extend my desktop to the new screen. I click �yes� and voila! I have two monitors side by side. I can drag Photoshop to my calibrated Eizo monitor and keep my email and business applications running on my laptop monitor.
Other reasons I purchased this computer were for the excellent multi-media capabilities. I am planning to start working on digital video editing and need the system�s processor and RAM for video editing. Also, the laptop has multiple USB, firewire, Ethernet and auto/video input/outputs. I�m looking forward to doing some HD video editing this summer.
So, after a few days of using the new computer system, I think I can call myself an Alienware evangelist! Everything works as advertised. It is fast. Changes to photographs render immediately when I move slider bars on 16 bit files. Setting up multiple monitors is simple. Changing out disks, RAM and other things is also simple. I give it two thumbs up and a high recommendation.
The Art of Travel Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2007! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. Our next workshop will be in North Cascades NP/Mazama 9/20/07 ~ 9/23/07 and still has a couple of seats available. Beyond these travel workshops, we are considering adding more throughout the USA in other pretty locations and have started working on our plans for 2008. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html
We have dramatically expanded our workshops and instructor base through the Nikonians. Please go to www.nikoniansacademy.com to see all the new cities and the new topics! We are offering topics such as Fine Art Photography, Digital Printing, D80/D70, D2X, D200, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon iTTL wireless flash through the Nikonians. If you are thinking of signing up, then you had better hurry! Seats are selling quickly and there are quite a few workshops that are already completely sold out in various cities.
D80 and D70 Workshops
We have now combined our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We�ve scheduled them in the Northwest for Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we�ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.
Nikon D200 Workshops
The D200 is an extremely popular camera and for good reason! It is one of the nicest cameras I�ve ever used. We are going to offer D200 workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR and are also offering an extensive workshop schedule with the Nikonians around the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These have become 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.
Have a great time taking photographs this month. As always, feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions or need assistance.
Out There Images, Inc. – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335