Happy July photographers! I’m publishing a short newsletter this month since we’re pretty busy with photo projects and I’m getting over a nasty bug.
The last few weeks have been great fun as I finished up Photoshop Workshops in Seattle and then took a trip out to Yellowstone National Park for some photography. As you’ll see in the article below titled “Sick Shooting,” the trip didn’t go exactly as I had planned, but I learned a lot in the process.
I’m receiving lots and lots of emails from all of you asking about new Nikon cameras coming down the pike. There are tons of rumors out there about the Nikon D400, D800 and D4 cameras, however I don’t have any specific information on when these cameras will be released or what their specs will be. Like you, I read all the speculation and can only wait until they are officially announced from Nikon. I do know this, the new Nikon pro bodies are going to perform like nothing else we’ve seen before. Better image quality, better ISO performance and better dynamic range.
BUT! You can’t let your obsession with the newest, latest, and greatest detract from capturing great images. For example, I was taking photos with my son in Yellowstone and liked many of his photographs better than my own. He was using a Nikon D80, I was using a Nikon D700 and D7000. Once all the photos were shown together on the computer screen, it was near impossible to determine which camera took which photo. The point is that the photographer creates the image and is the most important factor behind the quality of the shot.
For those of you who have been patiently waiting for our adventure to Galapagos, I’m happy to say that we’ve finally posted the trip here!
Signups for the trip began one day ago and we’ve already sold three seats. The trip is going to be wonderful and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with a small group of intrepid explorers.
Stuff I Like This Month
1. Capture Camera Clip System
2. Platform Mount from Tether Tools
Tether Tools has a new platform mount that incorporates the Arca Swiss plate technology. This is a standard LAJO-4 Pro Bracket with the base cut to fit into a standard Arca Swiss mount. Very ingenious design.
3. Super Blue IR Filter by Life Pixel
4. Snapseed by Nik Software
Snapseed by Nik Software is one of the best photo editing apps I’ve used for my iPad. I love the product and really enjoy creating new versions of my photos… See if you can spot a few of my images used in their advertising! Also, here’s an article I posted about Snapseed on the Out There Images Blog.
5. Update for Capture One
Phase One has just released an update to their new Capture One database software. Version 1.0.1 solves a number of significant bugs in the earlier release.
June GOAL Assignment Winner
I’ve picked the winning image from Flickr user Marjkyrio titled “Window Washers at the Newseum, Washington DC.” I think Marjkyrio did a great job of capturing the Newseum building in a new and interesting way. Using the silhouttes of window washers was an ingenious approach to bring additional interest to this photo.
Take a look at the winning photo!
For the prizes, Marjkyrio wins:
Join our Flickr group and start contributing! Its easy and its free.
July GOAL Assignment: From Afar
Everybody knows the conventional photo wisdom that you are supposed to get as close as you can to your subject for the greatest visual impact. However, let’s break some rules this month and see what kind of photo magic we can create by shooting photos from afar.
Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment for July is to purposely take photos so that the subject is minimized. Take shots with the intent of implying the photo was taken from a distance. I’ll tell you this, it takes a lot of effort to create striking images with small subjects.
Let’s see how you do. Feel free to post some of your best attempts over at our Flickr group.
Sick Shooting: Photography While Under the Weather
Rather than write a technical article on photography or technique for this month’s newsletter, I thought I’d write about something a little different: taking photographs while you are sick. This is something I haven’t seen much written about before, but we all have days where we want to be taking photos but are under the weather.
I think that on each photo expedition I’ve led to Africa or North America, at least one person on the trip has come down with a sickness. It is a terrible dilemma to have to wrestle with. After all, we’ve spent thousands of dollars to get to the destination, only to be faced with a debilitating sickness when we get there. What should we do? Should we sequester ourselves inside, or should we go out and battle through the sickness while shooting pictures?
Last week, I took my family out to Yellowstone National Park for a week-long photo trip. We’d been planning this adventure for many months and had lots of wonderful photo destinations in mind. Just as we were driving away from our home to depart for the trip, I noticed that my throat was feeling a bit scratchy and my nose was getting plugged up. Uh oh!
After the second day, my sickness was in full swing. I couldn’t think straight and felt like I couldn’t take a decent photo if my life depended on it. I quickly saw my photography plans flying out the window and I knew that I’d have to modify our schedule to accommodate this unwanted sickness. The last thing I wanted to do was cut short our time in the park. So, my wife and I decided to lower our expectations and spend half-days in the park rather than going out sunrise to sunset.
On the next day of our adventure, my daughter came down with the sickness and ended up having to stay back at our lodge in West Yellowstone with my wife. My son and I went out for a half-day of shooting, but I wasn’t getting any great shots. I didn’t realize how much my creativity would wane when I was sick. I had a terrible time trying to compose pictures or think through my exposures. In fact, I made a bunch of mistakes by choosing the wrong ISO or the incorrect white balance. I over-exposed shots and blew out the highlights on Old Faithful. My shots of lower falls on the Yellowstone River had all kinds of mistakes with blown highlights and tree branches getting in the way.
By day five of our trip, I was completely out of it. My brain capacity was down to about 20% of normal and my muscles were sore/weak. I knew that this wasn’t any regular cold and was now convinced that my sickness had morphed into the flu. The prudent choice would have been to stay back at the hotel room and lay on the couch, but I couldn’t stand the thought of missing a day of photography in Yellowstone, especially after so much effort to get there. So, I decided I would at least go into the park and sleep in the car while my family enjoyed the scenery.
My plan was to zonk out while they searched for wildlife around Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley. I told them to wake me up if they found a bear or any wolves. Sure enough, at one point during the day, my daughter yelled out “bear!” We all piled out of the car and started snapping photos of this beautiful creature. I set up my Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f4 and Gitzo Tripod on the side of the road and started shooting away. Intuition took over as I took over 100 pics of the black bear. I don’t have any recollection of actually operating the camera because I was totally operating on autopilot.
Most of the photos I took during this trip were similar in their execution. I tended to operate on intuition rather than using my normal thinking process. I trusted my prior training and hoped my photos would come out in the end.
After the last day in the park, my health started to improve. However, my photo adventure went nothing like I had initially hoped. I knew that I didn’t capture many of the shots I sought after and I was ok with that. So, what did I learn from trying to photograph while being sick?
Some Lessons and Observations to Improve Your Photography While You’re Sick
1. Remember to Shoot Your Scene Using Different Perspectives and Lenses
Obviously, it is really difficult to be creative when you are sick. Your compositions will suffer and your photos tend to be much more straightforward. Normally when I photography a scene, I attempt a bunch of compositions by changing perspective (low/high), shooting vertical/horizontal, changing lenses, etc. I found that when I was sick, all I wanted to do was point the camera in the general vicinity of the scene and take one shot. There was a big mental wall in the way of my creativity. To get around this, force yourself to shoot verticals and horizontals while also changing lenses. If anything, you’ll at least have a few more shots to choose from when you return from your trip.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
All the practice you do in the months before a trip really pays off when your mind is rendered useless due to the sickness. Since I shoot a lot of day-to-day photos anyways, it was easy for me to go into autopilot mode and simply rely on my prior photography training. I’m convinced that I was able to photographically salvage the trip simply because I could trust my photo skills that I’ve practiced over the years. Therefore, take this as a reminder to shoot photos every day in order to keep your skill set fresh.
3. Have Your Gear Ready Before You Need It
Since my mind wasn’t thinking straight, I knew I’d need to have my equipment setup and ready so all I’d need to do was grab it and start shooting. I mounted my camera on my tripod and laid it in the back of the vehicle in the morning before we entered the park. I set up my menus, ISO, WB and exposure system when my brain was fresh, so all I needed to do was pick up the gear and start shooting later in the day.
4. Be Deliberate and Careful When Handling Your Equipment
At one point during the trip I was walking back to our car from the Old Faithful geyser and dropped my D700 and 24-70mm f2.8 lens on the concrete. I simply forgot to check that my tripod plate was fully inserted into the mounting clip. Fortunately, the only damage was some scratches on the lens barrel and camera body. It was a dumb mistake but a great reminder to double check things thoroughly, especially when you are sick. There were many more cases during the trip that I caught myself before making similar mistakes, so just be careful!
5. Save Your Energy for the Big Events
I found that by resting at the lesser-known locations, I could save my energy up for the big venues. For example, I didn’t spend any energy photographing random landscapes or hikes. Rather, I let my family enjoy these smaller venues while I rested and hydrated. I saved my energy for photographing some of the more famous areas such as Inspiration Point over the Yellowstone River and Grand Prismatic Spring. Doing this kept my brain fresh for the more important photos on the trip.
6. Change Your Expectations
I had big plans for photography on this trip and I was ready to photograph anything and everything. I planned to get up at sunrise to photograph morning light on the elk and stay out until sunset for beautiful landscape images with wolves. The reality was that we didn’t even get into the park until about 9am (three hours past sunrise) and left each day about 3pm (four hours before sunset). I knew I wasn’t going to be able to capture my planned photos, so I modified and lowered my expectations. It’s hard to give up your goals, but in this case it was necessary.
My hope is that these tips will help you the next time you are on a photo adventure but fall victim to a virus. If you modify your goals, be very deliberate about your camera setup and rest when you can, hopefully you’ll still come home with some great shots.
Workshop and Business Updates
Galapagos is on! We’re headed to the Galapagos Islands for a photography adventure from September 14th – 23rd, 2012. The workshop is posted here:
The trip includes three nights in Quito Ecuador and seven nights on our expedition yacht in the Galapagos Islands. Prices range from $5700 – $7000 depending on your cabin choice. Join us for the trip of a lifetime.
Art of Travel Photography in Mazama, WA
Join us this October, 2011 for the Art of Travel Photography workshop to Washington State’s stunning North Cascades. Based out of Mazama, WA we’ll be photographing landscapes, mountains, and the Old Western town of Winthrop. The goal of this trip is to teach photographers how to take better travel images in unfamiliar territory.
The November 2011 Safari to Tanzania Africa now only has two seats remaining. Our group of intrepid adventurers will be traveling throughout the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire NP in our specially modified Land Cruisers. It is the trip of a lifetime and a wonderful opportunity to check another item off of your bucket list! Here’s the link for more information about the Tanzania, Africa Photo Safari.
These Tanzania safari trips are popular, so I’ve added two more for 2012. The first one will be in May 2012 and the second in November 2012. May 2012 will include the Wildebeest rut during the Great Migration. November 2012 will include the Mara River crossing in Northern Tanzania. You can find more information on these adventures here: 2012 Safaris
Custom Group Trips
If you have a group and want to arrange a custom photo safari or photo trip, contact us and we’ll put together an incredible itinerary just for you. Simply email or call and weill give you all the details for how to go about creating the trip of your dreams.
Every month I run private workshops for people who want to learn in a one-on-one environment. These are great for folks who want to focus on specific topics related directly to their interests. Topics have included product photography, learning your camera, Lightroom, Capture NX2, wedding photography, Photoshop, color management, nature photography, digital workflow, macro photography, location portraiture and many others. I also regularly consult with businesses, schools, organizations and museums to assist with their photographic and digital workflow needs.
Call (253) 851-9054 or email ([email protected]) if you have questions about private tutoring or consulting.
Out There Images, Inc – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335