We have a big newsletter this month, full of great information and new tips. As you know, people’s interest in digital photography continues to be strong and I am excited to be in the middle of it all. I leave in just a couple days to teach sold out workshops in Atlanta, Georgia and Orlando, Florida. They are going to be great fun and I can’t wait to get into some warmer weather!
I’ve finished up work on two new books and am waiting for the printing companies to complete their print runs so we can start shipping. I guess these things always take longer than you expect! Here are the books.
The Nikon Creative Lighting System is available here for pre orders:
Nikon Capture NX 2 After the Shoot is available here for pre orders:
Hood River Workshop There were lots of questions this month about our annual Art of Travel Photography workshop in Hood River, Oregon April 30 � May 3, 2009. People generally want to know if the workshop will help them improve their budding landscape and travel photography skills. Most are transitioning from portraiture or underwater photography or wedding photography and want to make sure they won’t feel intimidated by the other “experts” in the workshop. I want to assure you that you will fit right in. The workshop’s purpose is to help teach you the skills you need for better travel photography. Everyone is welcome and the workshops are a blast!
We get up early in the mornings to take sunrise photos and then stay up late to take sunset photos. In between, we learn about composition, digital processing and photographic technique. Assuming that we have some downtime, we’ll actually eat and sleep! I encourage you to think about this type of trip to give your landscape photography a kick start! Here’s the link:
Nikon D2X Camera For Sale
I’m selling my D2X for $1000. Here are some pics of the camera body (pic1 pic2 pic3). I purchased it brand new in 2005 from B&H Photo Video and it has pretty low use with only 19,396 shutter actuations. The camera comes with all original equipment including battery, charger, body cap, camera strap, cables, manuals, additional focusing screen, packaging (box), etc. Camera is in great condition and has been well taken care of. Contact me via email or phone if you are interested.
New Nikon D90 Setup Guide
The new Nikon D90 Setup Guide is posted to our website on the Publishing page. Scroll down the page until you see the link to the D90 guide. Here’s the link:
Think Tank Photo Discount
Brian at Think Tank Photo just sent me a message to remind you about their special offer for Out There Images readers. Think Tank Photo will give you a free accessory bag with any purchase over $49.50. Just follow the link below and enter our Out There Images, Inc. coupon code: WS-015.
New Firmware for Nikon D3 and Nikon D700
Nikon has released firmware v2.01 for the D3 and firmware v1.01 for the D700. Here are the links:
D3 v2.01 Mac
D3 v2.01 PC
D700 v1.01 Mac
D700 v1.01 PC
Blue Hour Photography
Here’s a quick tip for those of you who like shooting outdoor photographs during the magic blue hour time of day. In the past I’ve written about photographing cityscapes and landscapes after sunset or before sunrise so that the sky turns a beautiful shade of blue (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_hour). One of my readers (Roger) sent me a link that will automatically calculate the best time of day to get the magical blue sky for your location. Here’s the link: www.bluhour.com
To use the Blue Hour website, simply enter your country, state and city into the calculator. After you do this, a small window will appear indicating the city you have chosen. Click on that window and you’ll see the map change to pinpoint your location. Under the map will be a new time range showing the times during which you should photograph to get the beautiful blue sky color. The only downside to his site is that it only works for the current day. It doesn’t allow you to enter a series of dates. This can be an issue if you need to plan a trip somewhere and the sunset times are different each evening.
Next week I’ll be in Atlanta, GA leading workshops and the BluHour.com site says that the best time to photograph for a blue sky is between 6:20pm and 6:46pm. I’ll try it out while I’m there and see how accurate the results are!
January GOAL Assignment: Blue Backgrounds
Last month I asked you to spend some time looking at your backgrounds and try to include blue as a major element. Adding blue is a great photographic visual technique that adds vibrancy and life to your shots. Best of all, the technique is free! All it takes is a little patience and effort on your part. In some places, like where I live in Washington State, the amount of patience required to find blue can be overwhelming because of the ever-present gray skies and drab weather. But, when the blue sky finally does reveal itself, you have to go out and photograph like a wild man!
In the first two photo examples to the left, I photographed the same hummingbird against a gray background and then against a blue background. I was in Chandler Arizona a month ago, staying with our family on a golf course. I don’t golf, but I do take photographs, so I went outside on a gray day to see what I could find. This little hummingbird would fly back and forth from this specific branch all day long. He started his day at sunrise and didn’t leave until sunset. Every five minutes or so, he’d announce his presence to the world with some chatter, fly off to feed somewhere and then return to the perch. He became such a regular visitor to the tree that my children named him Joe the hummingbird.
The first photo I took of Joe the hummingbird included a drab gray sky in the background. You can see the high contrast situation and the strong back lighting. The overall photograph is a bummer and I normally wouldn’t show it to anyone other than my closest photo friends (you!). The next day the clouds broke and the blue sky appeared vibrant and saturated. I knew that Joe the hummingbird would be back on his perch, so I stepped outside with my camera ready to go. I shot the pic with my D300 and my Nikon 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR with a 1.4x teleconverter. The difference between the gray background and the blue background is dramatic. The green feathers of the hummingbird really look nice against the deep blue of the sky and the blue background just looks overall better.
The next few examples of blue backgrounds are from Tanzania, Africa. In these images I chose landscapes to demonstrate how blue enhance the overall look and feel of an image. The first photograph of the acacia trees is taken in Tarangire National Park. The green foliage of the flat top acacia and umbrella acacia look very nice in conjunction the blue sky. The same goes for the next acacia tree photograph taken in Serengeti National Park. The blue swirl in the sky helps break up the clouds and provides a nice color. Finally, the photograph of the green rolling hills in Ngorongoro Crater looks great with the blue sky. A similar photograph taken minutes earlier was dull, boring and drab because of gray cloud cover. By waiting a bit and being patient, I got a much better photograph.
The final two bird shots are two more examples of putting blue into the background. The Augur buzzard and the Lilac breasted Rollers both look fantastic against the solid blue background. In both situations, I asked the driver of our Land Cruiser to move ever so slightly in order to maximize the amount of blue in the background. I didn’t photograph the first composition I saw, but rather moved around until I maximized the impact of the blue background.
Ok. Now that you know, go out and shoot some more photographs with a blue background!
February GOAL Assignment: High Key Images
Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment this month is to experiment with high key images. The definition of a high key image is one that reduces the contrast between the foreground and background of the image. In other words, the photograph contains very few shadows and almost all areas of the image are bright. Next month I’ll give you some tips on photographing high key images that will include lighting, background, light ratios and mood. Ready. Set. Go!
Photo Techniques: Composition for Animal Photography
A few weeks ago I went to photograph animals at the Triple D Game Farm in Kalispell, Montana (www.tripledgamefarm.com). The purpose of this photographic adventure was to photograph Triple D’s wildlife models in a winter environment. Fortunately, a massive snow storm dropped tons of snow just a few days before we arrived and we were blessed with near perfect conditions for our photography.
The Triple D Game Farm is run by Jay and Kim Deist who have owned and operated the operation since the 1970s. Their purpose is to provide beautiful animals for the motion picture industry, professional photographers and anyone else who wants amazing images of animals. The neat part about the farm is that all of the wildlife models are trained so that they are able to run free and untethered in natural environments. The resulting photographs can be stunning!
The animals run the gamut from foxes and raccoons to bears, wolves, snow leopards and Siberian tigers. Often when you are photographing these animals, they are so close that you can feel their breath on your face! Jay does a wonderful job of taking care of his animals and making sure the photo sessions are a positive experience for every animal. In fact, he goes overboard to ensure that everyone is safe and that the animal always goes home happy.
I thought I’d use some of the photos from this trip as an opportunity to talk about compositional tips for animal photography. They apply whether you are photographing lions in the Serengeti, monkeys at the zoo, wildlife models at the Triple D Game Farm or your own pet in the living room.
Rule of thirds
The snow leopard illustrates the rule of thirds concept very well. Notice how I put the leopard’s eyes in the upper right third of the frame. The body is in the upper third of the image and the tail drops down on the left third of the frame. In general, try to compose your images so that some element is arranged at the intersection of the thirds lines.
Use the animal to create diagonal lines in your photo. In this wolf image, the gray wolf was jumping over a snow bank and was perfectly angled from the lower right corner to the upper left corner. His body line creates the diagonal and these types of angles are generally very pleasing to the eye. By the way, notice that the eyes and face are also at the intersection of the 1/3 lines in the photograph.
Head shots are always very nice and can result in wonderful prints because of all the detail in the animal’s face. The Siberian tiger photo here was taken at 400mm with my D300 camera. To do head shots well, you either need to get physically close to the animal or use a long lens. One of the advantages of shooting at the Triple D Game Farm is that you can get closer to their animals than just about any other place on Earth. Frequently, the animals were too close for my lens to focus!
Focus on the eyes
Photographs of animals look odd if the eyes aren’t sharp. Take extra time to make absolutely sure that you nail the focus on the eyes. For the photo of the grizzly bear walking towards camera, I moved my focus sensor so that it was placed over one of the bear’s eyes. I also used AF-C (continuous auto focus) to track the bear as it lumbered towards me. This allows the eyes to be sharp while all the unimportant parts of the photo (background and body) are out of focus.
Speaking of the eyes, sometimes it is very nice to have the animal look right into your camera. This allows a direct connection with your viewer. It also helps to keep the attention of the viewer just a little longer. Here, the lynx was looking directly into my lens, so I took the shot.
Wait for great behavior
This photograph of two red foxes fighting is an example of great animal behavior. Animals interacting with each other or showing a unique expression will almost always result in an interesting photograph. Many times, you can watch an animal’s body posture to get a clue of when it might erupt into some type of interesting behavior. In this case, one of the foxes crouched down to the ground just before his sibling attacked from the side. As soon as I saw the crouch, I focused and framed my shot to be ready.
So, there you have it. Some great tips for composing animal photographs. I encourage you to go out to your local zoo and give some of these tips the ol’ college try.
By the way, I had so much fun photographing these beautiful animals, that I am headed back to the Triple D game farm this May 14-17 to run another workshop. This will be a four day workshop to photograph all the new baby animals that are born in spring. Nothing is better than photographing little furry fuzz ball baby animals! This is your time to come and create some awesome images. This workshop is posted here: www.nikoniansacademy.com. Hope to see you in May!
Digital Tidbits: Tethered Shooting
There were lots of questions this month from people about tethered shooting with their cameras. Tethered shooting involves connecting your camera to your laptop with a cable and downloading images directly to the computer in real time. Another type of “connected” shooting is via a wireless WiFi transmitter attached to your camera that also allows you to download your shots in real time. Both of these types of shooting can dramatically speed up your workflow by reducing the time it takes to transfer/download images from your camera to the computer.
For tethered shooting (i.e. via a USB cable connected to your laptop), there are currently three options that I’m aware of. I’m sure there are other options out there, so if you know of any, send me a message with that company’s software or hardware information. Here’s a quick summary of the three software options for Nikon shooters. By the way, Canon shooters have a free tethered software program called EOS Utility that ships with their cameras.
Nikon Camera Control Pro 2. You can buy this from Nikon’s website (www.nikonusa.com) or from Amazon (www.amazon.com). The upside to this software is that it works very well with your Nikon camera and allows you to access all the menus from your computer. It also allows you to remotely control your camera from your computer’s keyboard. The only downside is that the software costs around $160.
Capture One 4 Pro. Phase One is well known in the professional photography industry for creating software that helps photographers be more efficient. Their software package called Capture One 4 Pro allows tethered shooting as well as a whole host of other features such as RAW processing, proofing, web output, lens correction and multiple monitor support. All of these features come in one well integrated package. The software costs $399 and can be found here:
Breeze Systems NKRemote 1.0 for Nikon DSLRs. Breeze Systems’ solution for tethered shooting is called NKRemote. Their software allows a live image to be displayed on your computer’s screen for real time feedback during the photo session. Obviously, it also allows instant downloading of the images you capture during the shoot. The upside to the software is that it can only be used on Windows machines. Unfortunately, they don’t have a solution for Mac OS. NKRemote costs $95 and can be purchased here:
There is another type of “connected” shooting that allows you to communicate to your computer system wirelessly. The first (and most expensive) option is to buy the Wireless Transmitter for your camera from the manufacturer. For example, the WT-4a Wireless Transmitter works with the Nikon D3, D3X, D700 and D300 cameras. Previous generations of Nikon cameras also had wireless transmitters designed for them and Canon also has wireless transmitters for their professional bodies. The Nikon wireless transmitter allows full WiFi remote operation when used in conjunction with Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 software.
Another wireless option is the Eye-Fi SD card available from www.eye.fi. This is an SD card with integrated WiFi that connects wirelessly to your computer directly from your camera. If you have a camera like the Nikon D40, D60, D80 or D90, then you can insert the Eye-Fi SD card into your camera and begin wireless downloads almost immediately. It is a great technology and is relatively inexpensive at $69.95. There are adapters that let you use the SD Eye-Fi in cameras that use CF cards. It is called the SynchroTech Multi-Card Adapter and only costs $28. Here’s a link:
Workshops are a fantastic way to learn and we continue to put together the very best learning experiences out there. Our class sizes are small and we teach on all the current topics. Part of our 2009 schedule is posted already and we’ll be posting more very soon.
Our workshops are run through Out There Images, Inc. (www.outthereimages.com) as well as 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 2009! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic experience with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. We have two Art of Travel workshops planned in 2009. Our Columbia River Gorge workshop will be from April 30 � May 3rd, 2009 and our North Cascades NP/Mazama September 24-29, 2009. If you are thinking of signing up, contact us immediately in order to be placed on our signup list. Go here for more details:
Nikonians Academy Workshops
We have more classes than ever for 2009. Topics include Nikon D300, Nikon D700, Nikon D3, Wireless Flash, Capture NX 2, D90, D80, D60, D40 and more travel workshops than you can shake a stick at. We�ll be teaching great photographic subjects all around the USA as well as some international destinations.
Our topics include:
– Triple D Game Farm baby animals
– Photo trips to Moab, Yosemite, Big Sur and more
– Nikon D300
– Nikon D700/D3
– iTTL Flash
– Capture NX 2
– Nikon D90, D80, D60, D40
Find out about all of our workshops here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
Private instruction is a very popular 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.
Keep photographing and pushing yourself to learn new techniques. Until the next time, have a great day!
Out There Images, Inc. – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335