October marks the beginning of a long travel schedule for me. I’ll be leading photo tours in Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, North Cascades NP and in Tanzania from October 1st through November 30th. Inbetween all these photo workshops, I’ll also be traveling to Virginia and Arizona, so I expect to rack up a bunch of air miles between now and the end of November! Imagine all the incredible photos I’ll be able to take of the back of airplane seats!
I know a few of you who read this newsletter will be joining me on some of these adventures and I can’t wait to meet you in the field. We’re going to capture some amazing images over the next two months.
I fully expect to shoot between 30,000 and 40,000 photos between now and the end of November. Organizing, keywording, and archiving all those digital files takes a robust file management system and I’m happy I have a system already in place to handle the new images. I’m currently writing a book on digital asset management titled Thousands of Images, Now What? that details my methods for creating and managing image libraries, and it is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Nikon has just announced a new camera system called the Nikon 1. It is a small, compact, interchangeable lens system that will launch with two camera bodies and five lenses. The camera bodies, called the J1 and the V1, are approximately the size of a thick smart phone. The J1 uses an LCD screen for composing images while the V1 comes with an electronic viewfinder and an accessory shoe.
The sensor for the Nikon 1 cameras is very small, which means the camera body and lenses can also be designed with a small form factor. Nikon has termed this new sensor the CX format and it has a multiplication factor of 2.7x. This means a 10mm CX lens would be equivalent to 27mm focal length on a full frame FX camera. Initially, Nikon’s longest lens for this format will be 100mm which translates to 270mm on a full frame FX camera. The range of lenses from this product launch should be just about perfect for the travel photographer.
My initial response to this camera was disappointment. I knew that Nikon was releasing a mirrorless camera last week and I was expecting a small camera with a large sensor. I expected to see Nikon come out with a camera targeted towards advanced amatures and professionals that produced excellent quality images at high ISOs. I was also thinking that they would use a larger DX sensor with a higher pixel count while ensuring direct compatibility with all of my existing Nikon lenses.
Instead, what Nikon created was a compact camera directly marketed towards consumers with a tiny sensor. The camera is even available in pink! PINK! Sigh.
But, after further thought, I think Nikon might be onto something here. They’ve essentially created their own market segment with no direct competition from other manufacturers. This camera system falls between the point and shoot world and the Micro 4/3 world. At the same time, it obviously doesn’t compete with the larger rangefinder cameras like the Fujifilm X100 or the Leica M9.
Everybody “knows” that small sensors often lead to extra noise at high ISO settings. But, the performance improvement over the last few years with Nikon sensors has been truly incredible. For example, image quality from my Nikon D7000 SLR easily beats my Nikon D700 SLR at high ISOs. The D7000 uses a DX sized sensor with 16MP and the professional D700 uses a FX sensor with 12MP. Assuming Nikon has continued improvement trend over the last year, then I should expect a similar performance surprise out of the tiny CX-sized sensor with 10MP.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Nikon 1 will produce fantastic image quality throughout its ISO range. It’s images should be superior to the high-end point and shoot cameras like the Nikon P7100 and Canon G12, which easily meet my needs for a small travel camera. I may eat my words, but I’m going to give Nikon the benefit of the doubt for now.
The camera will be released in mid-October 2011 and I’ll be testing a model out on my photo safari to Africa in November. I can’t wait to see how the camera performs.
New 2012 Workshops
We have lots of new workshops planned for 2012. Some of our best-sellers will return and we’ve also added a bunch of new topics and locations. For you Floridian snow-birds, I’ve just posted two new workshop series for Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in January, 2012.
I’ve also created new workshops such as Mastering Adobe Lightroom 3 and a new idea called the Autofocus Bootcamp. For adventure seekers, I’ve added new locations such as Olympic National Park and Galapagos.
Workshops I’ll Be Leading Around the World in 2012
– Olympic National Park Photo Adventure
– Galapagos Photography Adventure
– Tanzania Photo Safari
– Master Adobe Lightroom 3
– Master the Nikon D300/D300s
– Master the Nikon D700/D3/D3s/D3x
– Master Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash
– Master the Nikon D7000/D90/D80
– Master Nikon Capture NX 2
– Portrait Photography
– Autofocus Boot Camp
Stuff I Like This Month
1. Nik Color Efex 4
Nik Color Efex 4 is now available for purchase. I’ve been beta testing the software for a few months now and truly love it. I think Nik has done an incredible job with this version and I can’t recommend it enough.
2. Nikon Capture 2.2.8
Nikon Capture 2.2.8 has been released. This update resolves some minor issues and extends RAW support to the Nikon V1 and J1 mirrorless cameras, and the Coolpix 7100.
3. Nikon 1 System Previews
4. Nikon 1 Image Assessment
Nikon 1 image quality assessment at DXO Labs
5. Canon S100
The week before Nikon’s announcement of the Nikon 1 system, Canon announced an update to their very popular S-series cameras called the S100. This camera shoots RAW and has a 24mm – 120mm zoom range which is just perfect for travel photography. Price will be around $430 and the camera will be available during October, 2011.
6. Dangerous Places for Photographers
Photoshelter has an interesting article on the most dangerous places for for photo journalists.
7. Nikon 70-200mm f4 Lens
It looks like Nikon is finally going to make a 70-200mm f4 lens. I’ve wanted one of these for the Nikon platform for years. Canon makes one for their full frame cameras and it is an excellent travel lens much smaller than the 70-200 f2.8.
September GOAL Assignment: Serenity
Last month’s GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment was to take photographs representing the concept of serenity. As a photographer, being able to illustrate ideas and concepts is integral to achieving successful images. When traveling on vacation, it is often our goal to show the feeling and mood of our trip through our pictures. To do this, you first need to mentally define what it is about the mood you want to capture.
For example, let’s say that you were taking a walk through the forest surrounding Walden Pond. As you walk, you see calm waters and reflections of the trees in the morning light. You feel the moist air and hear loons calling each other. On the horizon, you see faintly visible rays of light through a bank of fog as the sun peeks above the horizon. You are feeling … serene.
Your task as a photographer is to capture this scene on film. But, you need to do more than just snap a photo. You need to create an image that helps the viewer feel the same way you do about the scene.
So, what defines serenity? In my mind, serenity means calm, peace, smooth. It is the opposite of bustle and commotion. Therefore, as I photograph a scene, I’m looking for elements in the area that encapsulate my definition. Therefore, I’ll photograph reflections in the water. A loon coddling its new baby chick. A resting swan. Flowers with morning dew on the petals.
I always go into a serene scene with these concepts in mind. I’m actually looking for these subjects and seek them out. Many photographers approach their photography with an attitude of “I’ll see what happens.” I like to approach my photography with an attitude of “Let’s see what I can help happen.” I’ve found that if I am looking for a specific image, then I often find it. If I don’t have a specific goal in mind, then I just wander and frequently come away skunked. As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.”
So, how did you personally do with capturing images of serenity? My guess is that if you succeeded, it was because you thought through what you wanted and then were able to capture it in your camera.
If you are interested to see what other readers captured last month for their photos of serenity, check out our Flickr group!
Be sure to comment on their images and thank them for posting.
October GOAL Assignment: Clouds
October is a month of weather transition all around the world. It marks the change of seasons and can lead to some dramatic cloud displays. Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment for October is to photograph some amazing clouds. Be on the look out for sunrises and sunsets. Also, look for dramatic thunderstorms or clearing rain clouds. I encourage you to not just photograph clouds against the sky, but to also think about how clouds can impact your landscapes, portraits and travel images. In next month’s newsletter, I’ll write about cloud photography and how to achieve great looking cloud images.
I’ll be posting some of my images to the Flickr group, and you should too!
Photo Techniques: What to do About Filters?
This month’s Photo Techniques article is written to address a reader’s question about filters…
I took a look at some of your newsletters and I see you addressed a reader’s question. I have a suggestion for a question that might be of general interest, although it may have also been addressed so many times you feel its been done to death.
I mostly shoot wildlife and bought a Nkion 300mm f/4 lens which I use with the 1.4 TC. Because such a lens represents a lot of money to an amateur like me, I bought a UV filter which I keep on for protection. One of my first shots was of a Northern Harrier with grass and reeds in the background. The background was very unpleasant, with scratchy looking artifacts. I thought perhaps it was due to not holding the lens steady, but no matter what I did, busy backgrounds always have these scratch artifacts.
Then one day I saw a thread in the Nikon Lens forum on DPReview by someone with the exact same problem. Somebody asked him if he had a UV filter on, if so take it off. Problem solved. Now there is anther thread and the consensus is to shoot without the filter. I’m not so concerned about protecting the front element, as I am about keeping it clean. It seems safer to clean the filter than the front element.
My guess is you don’t use a UV filter, but perhaps you could discuss this in your newsletter. Are there any filters which don’t have this problem?
In addition to John’s email, I receive lots of questions from readers about filters. I remember when I first started shooting photos with my Pentax K1000, all the camera stores worked overtime to sell me a UV or Skylight filter. Their premise was that these filters helped protect the lens as well as moderately improved the contrast in outdoor photographs.
I shot with filters for many years because I was told to by the camera stores. Then, one day I was photographing the setting sun over the Pacific Ocean with my Nikon N90s and Nikon 300mm f4 lens. On the front of the lens, I had my UV filter. I shot the images and noticed a slight ghosting in my viewfinder. I didn’t think anything of the ghost image until I received my slide film back from the developer. When I looked at my images on the light table, I noticed that I had double suns in each picture.
It took me a while to figure out what was causing the double images, when I finally determined that they were caused by light bouncing between the UV filter and the front element of the lens. At that moment, I decided to stop using UV filters on the front of my lenses for most of my photography.
Any filter will degrade the quality of your image. It isn’t much, but professional lens tests from Pop Photo Magazine have shown that filters degrade image sharpness by anywhere between 1% and 5%. This can be significant if you are making enlargements or if you need to crop an image to make it bigger. For example, with bird photography, you are often trying to squeeze every pixel of quality out of your sensor since the bird is so far away. If you are degrading the image with a filter, then it is that much harder to create a good final image. To this day, I generally don’t use filters on my lenses unless I absolutely have a need to do so.
Sometimes I will mount a UV/Haze/Clear filter on my lens if I’m shooting on the salt water and it is windy. However, I’m always sure to take off the filter as soon as possible.
I use this when I want to saturate colors or I want the clouds in the sky to pop.
3. Graduated Neutral Density
I use these in my landscape photos when I want to darken the sky so that it more closely matches my foreground.
4. Neutral Density Filter
These block light from entering the camera, allowing for longer exposures or bigger apertures. You’ll use longer exposures when you want to purposely blur objects like water falls, waves or moving clouds. You’ll want bigger apertures when shooting portraits on a bright sunny day and your desire is to have a very narrow depth of field (i.e. f2.8).
In closing, don’t worry about getting dust, water, or junk on your lens’ front element. Simply clean it off with a lens wipe or a clean corner of your cotton t-shirt. The front element of your lens is tough and can stand up to lots of abuse.
Workshop and Business Updates
Our November 2011 Safari to Tanzania Africa is completely sold out. We leave on 11/1 for two weeks of adventure. If you are interested in a future photo safari, then we have another one planned for November 2012. This fantastic adventure travels throughout the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks in our specially modified Land Cruisers.
These are trips of a lifetime and provide a wonderful opportunity to check another item off of your bucket list! November 2012 will include the wildebeest migration and hopefully the Mara River crossing in Northern Tanzania. Click to learn more about these amazing adventures!
Our photography adventure to the Galapagos Islands is scheduled for September 14th – 23rd, 2012 and is already close to selling out. At this point, we only have four seats remaining!
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.
Master Lightroom 3
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to leverage the power of Lightroom for your workflow, then this here is the right workshop for you!
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