Greetings and happy March everyone. Spring is near and the crocus flowers are blooming in our backyard! Purples, yellows, whites. It is great fun to see life returning to the Northern part of the USA. Along with the flowers, our business keeps on growing and Stephanie and I continue to feel blessed by how well things are going.
I didn�t anticipate the feedback I�d get based on my article last month on printed photo books. People are very passionate about photo books! Lots of people wrote in to ask why I didn�t test this company or that company. Lots of people wrote to suggest cheaper alternatives, better alternatives and more expensive alternatives. A few people even wrote in to firmly disagree with me. Awesome. I love corresponding with all of you and I greatly value your input. Thanks for writing and please keep on letting me know about your own projects.
Our 4-day workshop to the Columbia River Gorge this April still has a couple seats available. If you have been looking for a fantastic journey that will challenge you photographically, then I encourage you to join us for a beautiful journey through a true NW treasure. We�ll be photographing spectacular waterfalls, blooming wildflowers and panoramic vistas while staying in picturesque Hood River, OR. Find out more information here: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html
Also, note that we are still teaching quite a few workshops through the Nikonians Academy. One workshop I�d like to highlight is our 4-day Advanced Digital Imaging Workflow event. We have two of these scheduled for 2008; one in San Francisco area this April and another in the Dallas area this June. Imagine four days of Photoshop, Nikon Capture NX, Advanced printing, black and white conversions, etc. The workshop will have a full complement of large format inkjet printers and screen calibration tools. More info here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
Big news: After hundreds and hundreds of requests, I�ve finally posted my Nikon D300 setup guide PDF to the website. You can download it for free here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html. Also, you can order a laminated copy for a few bucks from the same link.
Later this summer in mid-August, I will be returning to a small corner of Alaska for a mission project aimed at expanding a youth camp. Our goal will be to install a water well, create a kitchen and improve the infrastructure for the camp. My own personal goal there will be to help drill the water well. The camp is located outside of a small village called Unalakleet and is run by the Covenant Youth of Alaska (www.cyak.org). It is located in the Alaskan tundra and is next to a great fishing river named the North River. You can see the summer camp page here: www.cyak.org/camp.html.
Our work party will involve about 50 volunteers who will be flying in from all around the USA to help build this camp area. We are looking to raise about $50,000 for lumber, a drilling rig, roofing materials, kitchen appliances and everything else. Shipping the materials will cost a big portion of that since it all has to be barged up there from Seattle, WA. The barge leaves in April so that the materials can be up to Unalakleet by the time the ice clears from the Norton Sound.
The Summer camp serves youth from all around Alaska. Quite literally, kids fly in bush planes from every corner of the state to spend one week per year at camp. Alaska has one of the highest rates of alcoholism, child abuse and youth suicide in the entire USA. The people who run the camp pour out love on these kids and work to give them hope, support and a shoulder to cry on. It is an amazing experience and I am proud to be going back this year. Contact me if you are interested in helping in any way.
February GOAL Assignment: Shoot With the Eyes of a Child
Last month�s Get Out And Learn (GOAL) assignment was to hand your camera to a kid and see what kind of photos they come up with. You were to use this as a source of inspiration for your own photography and see what kind of ideas it generated.
A few years back I gave my son a little Nikon Coolpix point and shoot digital camera. At the time, he started taking photographs of all his Hotwheels cars. Not the greatest photo inspiration for me, but he was really having a good time doing it. A few months later, we went out on a hike here in the Northwest and my son saw a squirrel running around on the ground. Since we were out on a photo safari, he was excited beyond belief. He yelled, �DAD!! Let�s go photograph that squirrel. C�mon!!!� He spent the next hour and a half methodically following the squirrel around and must have snapped 50 photographs of the little critter. Since he was shooting with a point and shoot and the squirrel spend most of the time up a tree, his shots left something to be desired. While his photos weren�t necessarily inspiring to me, his determination definitely was! I still think about that to this day and remember the look of fierce determination on his face as if it were yesterday.
Here�s another example of child-induced inspiration. A couple months ago, we were coming home from a trip on an airplane and my daughter wanted to take some photos in the airport. Since she wanted one of my �fast� cameras, I handed her my D300 with a 50mm f1.8 mounted on it. Her first shot was a photo of her feet. I�m actually not sure if she took it on purpose or if it was an accident, but she was pretty proud of the shot. She ran up to me and pushed the playback button to show me the photo on the back of the camera. �Dad, look at my feet!�
Her enthusiasm for photographing the floor and her feet led me to think about patterns, shapes and textures. All of a sudden, I couldn�t get away from thinking about finding some type of abstract pattern while we waited for our airplane. So, I walked outside with my camera in search of patterns. After a few minutes, I found a neat pattern in the building and shot it. I soon became very excited about photographing patterns! I must have found ten or fifteen other patterns and shapes that I snapped that morning. I then ran up to my daughter and showed her my photographs. She wasn�t impressed (tough customer I guess). Anyways, what fun! It was fun because I didn�t think about it on my own and because my children inspired me to find something new.
Not to be outdone, that same morning my son started taking photographs of the surrounding hills through the dirty windows of the airport. I vividly remember my initial thought � �GASP! You can�t get good photos through dirty airport windows!� I wouldn�t have thought about photographing the beautiful sun rays shining through the clouds because I had a �professional photographer�s� idea about what you have to do to create great photographs. That preconceived idea prevented me from shooting through a window and capturing a beautiful sunrise photo. Not my son. He saw the pretty scene and pushed the button on the camera. This shot has become one of my favorite from the trip. Not because it was the best photo of the trip, but probably because of what I learned by watching my son take the shot. �Sonburst over Haleakala� is what I�ve called this picture, in recognition of my son�s burst of creativity.
Already this month, a large number of readers have written me to talk about their own experiences with kids and photography. I was amazed to see some of the shots that you all sent. One gal sent some photos of her and her kids out shooting star trails. Another showed images of their family at the coast taking shots of sunset. All were inspired by their kids� unique eye and interests.
If you haven�t handed your camera over to a kid, you just might be missing something!
March GOAL Assignment: Photograph People Working
Ok, this month�s GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment is going to require you to mix it up with your fellow working men and women. I want you to photograph people at work. Working on airplanes, working in the field, working in the office, working at the corner grocery store.
Sometimes, you are going to need to actually go up and talk with them. One of the biggest obstacles to taking photographs is what we perceive to be social boundaries. Lots of times we shy away from getting great images because we don�t want to intrude or because we feel that we�ll be in the way. Most of the time however, the complete opposite is true. If you go up to someone and ask about their job, you will be amazed at how open they are to talking about their craft or trade. You�ll get some great images and the benefit is that both of you now have a new relationship.
Ok, get out this month and take some photographs of people working. Next month I�ll talk about some shots I�ve taken and I�ll explain how they were made.
Photographic Techniques: Creating Light Trails Indoors
So, two days ago I was at the Denver, Colorado airport waiting out a snow storm. My flight from Austin, Texas was delayed so I missed my late evening departure for Seattle. At about 1am, after I had multiple, happy, stress-free conversations with the ticketing agents, I was able to rest for a few hours while waiting for my morning departure.
I tried sleeping on the floor and I tried sleeping on the chairs. No amount of �trying� enabled me to fall asleep. So, finally at about 4:45am I just got up and started walking around the airport. Terminal B at the Denver airport is very long, so I was just wandering up and down the long corridors, waiting for my early morning departure, when photographic inspiration struck. Maybe it was photographic desperation! I don�t know.
What I do know is that I was tired and I wanted to do anything other than watch CNN for another three hours, so I pulled out my camera and my tiny little Bogen tabletop tripod to see what kind of photographic treasures I could create.
Since I had spent the night waiting for something that might not ever happen (i.e. leaving on an airplane), I wanted to create a photograph that visually represented my feeling of waiting. Looking around, I saw the long moving walkways (people movers) and I knew that If I set my camera on the moving walkway and kept my shutter open for a long time, the ceiling lights would all blur and create neat photograph reminiscent of a tunnel.
So, I set my Nikon D300 for a shutter speed of 10 seconds at an ISO of 200. I added an SB-800 to the camera and set the flash output for -1.0 EV to give the photo just a little bit of pop. I also knew that the flash would help bring out a bit of the shadows in the foreground.
Next, I set my camera�s self timer for a 5 second delay and set the camera on the moving walkway. I framed up the photograph using Nikon�s new Live View feature and then pressed the shutter release button.
Cool! The resulting photo turned out great, so I then made one that included me standing on the walkway with my rolling carryon bag. In all, I think I took about ten photographs. Each photo looked a bit different with quite a few of them being blurry from the jostling of the moving walkway. However, one turned out well and it is the one I show here to the left.
All the while I was taking this photo, business travelers were passing me by and giving quizzical looks. Some stopped and waited patiently while I took the shots. Others huffed by me, inconvenienced by my camera and mini tripod. I was struck by the craziness of the modern world. Half the people are hurrying and half the people are waiting. All have one thing on their mind � time.
Digital Tidbits: Setting Up the Nikon D300 for Early Morning Landscapes
I have been travelling around quite a bit of late, so I thought it was about time to take my wife on a trip away from the kids. We decided to head down to the Oregon coast for a quick getaway from business and chaos.
For a long time, I�ve wanted to get a photograph of Cannon Beach�s Haystack Rock with no one on the beach. The spot is a popular tourist destination and if you go there during the day, you can count on hundreds of people on the beach. With all these people, it is almost impossible to make the beach look desolate so I knew I�d have to wake up very early to get my shot. I also timed my visit to the spot to coincide with a full moon that I knew would be setting just about one hour before sunrise. This would be perfect for getting a photo of Haystack Rock against a nice purple sky and a big full moon.
So, with my wife still sleeping, I jumped out of bed at 4:30am and drove south a few miles to Cannon Beach. I switched on my headlamp and walked across the long sandy beach looking for a great composition. I set up my tripod in the wet sand and started taking photographs of Haystack Rock in the early morning twilight. My shutter speeds were about 30 seconds long and as I photographed, there were fishing boats out at sea causing long white streaks against the horizon from their running lights. Also, to the south was an incredibly bright light out along the coastline I can only assume was from a lighthouse.
The resulting photographs were just amazing to me. The moon setting low against the clouds lit them from behind and their colors just popped! The light from the lighthouse light the underside of the clouds with a strange glow. All of this contributed to a sky with colors that I don�t think I�ve ever seen before. I was literally spellbound and had to shake my head in order to stop staring at the splendor before me.
I was using my Nikon D300 and I set my white balance for Cloudy a2. This is a new white balance designation for Nikon cameras and the �a� setting gives an amber filter to the final result. There are 6 different values for the amber filter; a1 through a6. I find that setting white balance for Cloudy a2 gives me a nice warm tone for my resulting photos. Next, I set my ISO for 200. This is the native ISO for the Nikon D300 and produces the cleanest files. I set my camera for Matrix Metering and Manual exposure. I aimed my camera at the scene, made my composition and set up a shot for f22 at 30 seconds.
For my landscape photographs, I like to use the RAW file format and the Nikon D300 has multiple choices for how to configure your files. You can choose 12-bit RAW or 14-bit RAW, Lossless Compressed, Normal Compressed or Uncompressed. In all, there are six different ways to configure your RAW files. My choice right now is to use 14-bit RAW and Lossless Compressed. The upside to this is that you get fantastic bit-depth for gorgeous tonal reproduction (in English, that means you can pull a lot of details out of the shadows). The downside is that your frame rate drops from 6 frames per second to 2.5 frames per second because your camera has to push a ton of data through its electronic circuits. Obviously, fast frame rates are not a big deal when shooting landscape photos since you are generally shooting multi-second long exposures.
On my Nikon D300, I also like to set up a new in-camera utility called Active D-Lighting. I have found that this tool does a great job of preserving my highlights while allowing extra information to be pulled from the shadows. I�ve been working with this feature for a few months and have so-far found it to be a good thing.
Next, I like to set up my long exposure noise reduction for �OFF�. I have found that noise generally isn�t an issue in exposures less than 30 seconds. If I was taking photos in excess of a few minutes, then I�d contemplate turning this function on. However, I generally find that I can do a better job of noise reduction by using a software package on my computer. Even though these shots were just 30 seconds, there is a little bit of noise. The purists out there will want to use a program like Noise Ninja or Nik to filter out the noise.
The resulting photos are what you see here. Beautiful colors. Great sharpness. Fantastic composition. God provided me with the natural elements and it was my job to combine them all in a neat arrangement.
I shot photos like crazy. At one point I found myself sprinting down the beach in order to align the setting moon with Haystack Rock. I must have looked like an idiot to anyone who was watching. Set up tripod. Stand there very still for 30 seconds. Pick up tripod. Sprint 100 yards. Set up tripod. Stand there very still for 30 seconds. Pick up tripod. Sprint 100 yards. Repeat. Ha! I loved it. My adrenaline was flowing and the photos were happening. What a wonderful time I was having.
After working up a good sweat, the light was getting flat and the sun was about ready to crest over the horizon. At this point, the sweet pre-dawn light was over and I was getting tired of running around like a crazed photographer. I packed up my tripod and started walking back to the car. People were just beginning to come out of their cocoons for their morning walks and I noticed about 10 people walking with dogs, kids and spouses. I did it! I got my shots without anyone in the photo. I drove back to meet my wife and when I walked in, she was just waking up. We went for a morning jog on the beach and then spent the rest of the day window shopping, eating salt water taffy and taking silly photos of each other with our point and shoot cameras.
That�s my idea of a great little trip.
Workshops continue to be popular, so we keep offering them! 2008 brings lots of workshops through Out There Images, Inc. and somewhere around 70 workshops scheduled at the Nikonians Academy (www.nikoniansacademy.com). Check out the information below for specific topics and dates.
The Art of Travel Photography Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2008! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The locations we have are Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and spring bloom 4/24/08 ~ 4/27/08 and North Cascades NP/Mazama 10/2/08 ~ 10/5/08. Both of these workshops are very popular and tend to sell out quickly. If you are thinking of signing up, contact us immediately in order to be placed on our signup list. Go here for more details:
Photoshop Level I and II
These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We are offering two levels of Photoshop instruction � Photoshop I and Photoshop II. Take them one at a time or take them as a group and get a 10% discount. Our Photoshop workshop is scheduled for July 25th and July 26th, 2008 in Seattle, WA. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html
Nikonians Academy Workshops
We’ll be teaching great photographic subjects in Orlando, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Portland, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington DC, Tanzania, and more!
Our topics include:
– Two African Safaris
– Nikon D300
– Nikon D200
– Nikon D80/D70
– iTTL Flash
– Hands-on Digital Printing
Find out about all of our workshops here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
We�ve brought back our popular Portrait Photography workshop this year. It will be scheduled for July 11-12, 2008 in Seattle, WA. If you�ve ever wanted to learn how to use a flash meter, how to set up a studio, how to arrange your lighting or how to use flash, then this is the right workshop for you. It is a two-day event with lots and lots of hands-on learning and photography. Come along, you�ll enjoy it! I promise. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html
Private instruction is a very popular and affordable way 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, exposure theory, and more. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (253) 851-9054 or email ([email protected]) if you have questions about this option.
Get out this month and challenge yourself to take some great new images. As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions. I�m always happy to help.
Out There Images, Inc. – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335