March 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter

Purse seiner

The Beryl E fishing boat. This is one of Gig Harbor’s many commercial fishing boats. Image taken with Nikon Df and 70-200 f/2.8. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 & Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

In this Newsletter:
– Greetings
– Stuff I Like This Month
– January GOAL Assignment: Direct the Viewer’s Eyes
– February GOAL Assignment: Share Your Images
– Digital Tidbits: Filling In Missing Pixels From Panorama Stitches
– Book Review: Peter Krogh’s Organizing Your Photographs with Lightroom 5
– Book Review: Peter Krogh’s Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5
– Workshop and Business Updates


I have spent most of the last month near home and as a result, I’ve been able to work on my business and spend lots of time with my family. Since I’ve been in town, quite a few of you have scheduled private photo workshops and a number of local groups have asked me to speak at their events.

One of the things that has struck me during my presentations is how important it is to always show your best work when displaying your photography or speaking publicly. Last month, I chaperoned a middle school youth weekend retreat and decided to photograph the kids as they enjoyed the retreat. I probably took 450 images, then shared them with all the kids and parents after the weekend was over. The pics went all over their Facebook pages, their phones, their tablets and finally into a wrap-up video that was shown to a big group of people. Everyone was excited at having access to all the great images. One of the moms loaded the images onto her iPad and shared them with people in her network of friends and family. She even showed a bunch of pics to employees at the Apple Store.

I know this is obvious, but it struck me again that in this day and age, our photography will be shared by many people in many locations across many platforms. As photographers, we won’t be able to control how the images are shared or who sees the images. Everyone who sees the images could be a potential customer, grandparent, magazine editor, writer or business owner.

It would have been easy to be lazy and simply share the unprocessed pictures from the retreat. But I couldn’t bear to think about people seeing images that were good, but not great. So, I took an extra three hours and processed each and every photograph by cropping, fixing zits, removing dust, fine tuning white balance, and enhancing vibrance. I’m extremely happy I took the extra time to work on the images since hundreds and hundreds of people have now seen them. I encourage you to do the same thing when showing your photographs. Always take the time to edit and develop your photos before sharing them with others.

New Photo Tips Videos

Here at Visual Adventures, we believe in following our own mantra of Learn – Create – Explore. In this vein, we started producing a regular series of photo tips for our Visual Adventures YouTube channel. At this point, we are sharing the short videos on our blog and on YouTube (


Photo Workshops

We have an exciting workshop and travel schedule for 2014 and 2015 and continue to add new trips. Our goal is to lead photo journeys to beautiful locations around the world dedicated to those of you who want to become better photographers. Our two newest workshops are set for Iceland in winter 2015 and Northern India during the tea harvest season of 2015.

Here’s a quick summary of our upcoming trips and classroom workshops.

April 3-6, 2014 – Fairfield, NJ
Nikonians Academy workshops on Nikon D600, D610, D7000, D7100, D800, D4, Df. More info.

June 13-14, 2014 – Seattle, WA
Nikonians Academy workshops on Nikon D800, D4, Df. More info.

August 10-20, 2014 – Iceland Birds and Landscapes
Photograph the land of fire and ice. 3 spots remaining. More info.

September 5-14, 2014 – Galapagos Wildlife Adventure
Amazing wildlife photography on our own private expedition yacht. 2 spots remaining. More info.

October 4-11, 2014 – Cuba Cultural Photography
Old world charm and beautiful Havana. More info.

November 4-15, 2014 – Tanzania Photo Safari
Photo safari to East Africa’s beautiful Serengeti. More info.

February 9-15, 2015 – Iceland Winter
Northern lights, ice caves and landscapes. More info.

April 29-May 11, 2015 – Northern India Tea, Landscape and Wildlife
Tea harvest, mountain landscapes and wildlife. More info.


Stuff I Like This Month

1. Time magazine recently commissioned a 360-degree Gigapan panorama of New York City from the top of the Freedom Tower (1776 feet in the air). The results are stunning. You can zoom to incredible detail, and even see individual airplanes on the runway at Newark International. Check it out.

a. Gigapan View
b. Behind the scenes story and photos.

2. There’s a lot of talk in the photo industry around the ethics of using Photoshop to retouch people. asked four women to participate in an experiment where they professionally photographed them, then retouched their photos like a magazine would do for a cover image. All four women decided that they liked their unretouched images better. Here’s the story and the images:

3. The MOVI is a new camera stabilization tool that is changing the way video shooters work today. I think it is exciting how costs of high-end equipment keep dropping while quality keeps going up. Here’s an excellent demonstration of the MOVI’s capabilities on the ski slope while filming a short piece for Red Bull.

a. Red Bull short story with MOVI.
b. MOVI behind the scenes.


Time Magazine’s GigaPan View of New York City

January GOAL Assignment: Direct the Viewer’s Eyes

Your last GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment was to use a classic compositional rule called “leading lines” to direct the viewer’s attention through a photograph. Based on my experience teaching photography over the years, this isn’t an easy technique to master, so let me share some tips that might help you develop this skillset.

Leading lines can be literal, such as lines on the ground, or they can be implied, such as an imaginary line between people looking at each other. My approach to incorporating leading lines in my photographs is to first find an interesting subject like a building, flower, lake, or mountain. Once I’ve defined the subject, I then move around the foreground looking for leading lines and foreground objects that will direct the viewer’s eyes towards the object.


Once you find the subject, look for a good foreground element to lead the viewer’s eyes into the scene. Nikon D800, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

Wide-angle lenses are the preferred lenses for this technique because they allow you to get really close to a foreground object which increases its significance in the scene. For an example of this approach, look at the image above that was taken at a Seattle produce market. I wanted to show people shopping for fruit, so I decided that they would be my subject. Then, I searched for something in the foreground to point towards the shoppers. The trays of raspberries fit the need perfectly, so I pushed in really close to the berries with a 14mm lens to make them appear larger in the composition. The repeating patterns of the green containers serve as the leading lines that draw the viewer’s attention directly to the shoppers.

The other images in this article also employ the use of leading lines. The pig’s snout and body leads to my wife and kids. The two young women taking a photograph on the fence lead your eyes to the Public Market sign in the background. The rocks in the water lead your eyes to the horizon and the beautiful sky.

There are lots of elements in our surroundings that can be used to lead your viewer’s eyes towards the main subject. Here are a few that you can use in your own photography:

– Buildings
– Sidewalks
– Streams/rivers
– Stairs
– Trails/paths
– Boulders
– Flowers
– Shorelines
– Driveways
– Mountains
– Hallways
– People gazing into the scene
– People looking at each other

I know that producing compelling images sometimes feels out of reach for many photographers. I often hear from participants on my workshops that their images don’t have depth or don’t seem very dynamic. If your landscape and travel photographs suffer from the same issues, then I highly recommend incorporating the basic rule of leading lines and begin including them in your shots.


Here, I used the pig as the leading line. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8.


Here, the connection between these two young women form the leading line and direct the viewer’s eye towards the Public Market sign. Nikon D800, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.



This under water rock formation works perfectly to lead the viewer’s eyes into the scene. Nikon D800, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

March GOAL Assignment: Share Your Images

You didn’t know this, but other people are dying to see your pictures. Seriously. Your GOAL assignment this month is to share your images with someone beside yourself. One of the sheer joys of photography is creating unique images, but those shots are no good if no one else sees them, so make a point share your beautiful images with others.

During the month of March, I will be sharing my images with a number of local groups including non-profits, community groups, schools, and churches. In some cases, I’ll be giving a presentation and in other cases I’ll be providing images for their slide shows and fundraisers.

I gotta tell ya that sharing your pictures with others is one of the most gratifying things you can do as a photographer. As such, here’s how I suggest presenting your images:

1. Put together a tightly edited group of photographs. Remove any images that don’t follow the same theme.
2. Make sure that the photos have a compelling story tying them together.
3. Schedule a date, then present these images to your favorite organization while telling the story of the images.

I guarantee you’ll leave people chomping at the bit for more, especially if you speak with energy and enthusiasm.

Here are some ideas for places to show your images:

– Elementary school
– High school science class
– Elks
– Rotary
– Library
– Photography club
– Family gathering
– Invite people to dinner and share three photo stories

Send me a note via email, Facebook or Twitter to let me know how your presentation went. I’d love to hear your story.


I encourage you share your photos and stories with other people this month. It is great fun and everyone loves a good story. Here, I’m sharing images at the Gig Harbor Welcome Club.


Sharing images of Africa with 60 kids from a local elementary school.

Church youth event.

Sharing images with 75 people at a Harbor Covenant Church youth event.


Digital Tidbits: Filling In Missing Pixels From Panorama Stitches

Zebra on Kopje

This panorama taken on safari in the Serengeti National Park required filling in a bunch of missing pixels after all the individual photos were merged in Photoshop.

People love looking at panoramic images. These wide photographs allow viewers to take in the enormity of a scene and become immersed in the viewing of the photo. Most folks view panoramas by scanning the image from side to side and back again while searching for details in the landscape. View a well-executed panorama is an experience and will often command people’s attention for a much longer period of time than a traditionally formatted image.

Stitching multiple images together to create a panorama is fairly easy these days because of the preponderance of excellent software on the market. For myself, I generally use Adobe Photoshop for my panorama stitching and have detailed my methods in previous newsletters over the years. For example, here’s a recent article I wrote on creating vertical panoramas:

One of the difficulties we come across when creating panoramas, especially with wide-angle lenses, is that you often end up with sections of the image that don’t have pixel data. Frequently, panoramas that were stitched in software end up with blank areas in the corners or along the outer edges of the composite. The cause of these blank areas is a byproduct of the software bending and warping the individual photographs in order to get them to all fit together. You’ll find that stitching together panoramas that were taken with wide lenses will result in more blank areas than stitching panos taken with telephoto lenses.

So, how do you fill in the missing data? The answer is to use a combination Photoshop’s transform warp tools, crop tools, and content aware fill tools. To show you how to fill in the missing data, I’ll use Photoshop CC in this example, but thes same techniques work in Photoshop CS5, CS6 and CC.

Here are the steps. For clarity, I’ll explain the process beginning with the individual photographs in Lightroom, and then merge them into a panorama in Photoshop.

1. From Lightroom, select the range of images you took for the pano and right click on the sequence. Then, choose Merge to Panorama in Photoshop…

LR Merge

From Lightroom, right click on your images and choose Edit in > Merge to Panorama in Photoshop

2. Photoshop then opens up the photomerge window. Set your favorite preferences (Auto, remove vignetting, etc.). Click OK.


Photoshop will bring up the Photomerge dialog where you may set your preferences. I generally choose Auto, Blend Images Together, Vignette Removal

3. Once in Photoshop, you’ll then need to combine all layers so the image is flattened. Choose Layer –> Merge Visible or Flatten Layers.


Once in Photoshop, then choose Merge Visible or Flatten Image.

4. Now, comes the fun part. You’ll need to fix the areas of the photograph that don’t have pixels. For the example photo here, I added red to the areas that don’t have pixel data so you can easily see these regions. In real life, Photoshop will represent these areas as transparent pixels that will show up as a lightly shaded checkered background. Here, you will start using a combination of the crop tool and the warp tool. I like to start with the warp tool, then crop the image. After this, I will use the content aware tool to fill in the missing regions.


After Photoshop builds the panorama, you’ll probably have areas with no pixel data. Here, I’ve shown these areas in red so they are easy for you to see.

5. Use the warp tool. Choose Edit –> Transform –> Warp. At this point, Photoshop will bring up a control box around the image that you will be able to manipulate. I typically click in the region that I need to warp (bend) and drag that up or down towards a corner. This helps warp the photograph to better fill the frame. There’s always a delicate balance between warping the image to fill the frame and warping it too much so there is significant deformation in the image. You’ll know when you’ve gone too far, especially if clouds and trees start looking a bit like they were out of a Salvador Dali painting. When you’ve finished warping all the corners, press the Enter or Return key on your keyboard to set the warp.


Choose Edit > Transform > Warp from the menu

warp tool

The next step is to use the Warp tool to bend and massage the photograph as necessary.

6. Next, is to crop the image to your liking using the Crop tool (C). Feel free to choose a classic 1:3 ratio or a random crop that fits the subject matter.

7. Finally, use the content aware tool to automatically fill in the missing pixel data. The first step to properly using this tool is to select the region of the photo you need to fix with the Lasso tool. Actually, any of the selection tools will work for this, but most people are familiar with the lasso tool and understand how to use it. Draw a selection around the empty pixels, and then activate the content aware tool by choosing Edit –> Fill. From the pull-down menu, choose Content Aware Fill. This tool is really incredible and will do a great job of automatically replicating the surrounding area. If it doesn’t do a perfect job, then undo the step and try again with a slightly different selection.


Draw a selection around the area you need to fix.

Edit Fill

From the Photoshop main menu, choose Edit > Fill

content aware

Make sure the “Use” is set for Content-Aware and the Mode is Normal

8. Use the content aware tool on all other areas of the photo that need to be fixed.


Here’s the same portion of sky, but fixed by Content-Aware fill.

9. Done.

Here’s the finished panorama after fixing the empty pixel regions. If content aware fill didn’t accomplish your goals, then there are lots of other tools in Photoshop such as the clone stamp, the healing brush and the patch tool. I’ll have to write about these tools in a future newsletter or blog post.

finished pano

Finished panorama composite. Now, we need to go in and add some contrast and color punch (below).

Here are two versions of the same image that I further processed in Lightroom and Nik plugins. I developed the first image using Nik Color Efex Pro 4 with the Tonal Contrast and Foliage Enhancer. The black and white conversion was in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.


I added a bit of Tonal Contrast in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 for this version.

Zebra on Kopje

This panorama taken on safari in the Serengeti National Park required filling in a bunch of missing pixels after all the individual photos were merged in Photoshop.


Two Book Reviews: Peter Krogh’s Lightroom 5 DAM Books

I’m a DAM junkie, but don’t take that the wrong way. DAM stands for Digital Asset Management and is the term digital photographers use to describe how we organize, store and backup our image libraries. I’ve read just about every DAM book on the market and I’ve even written my own DAM book for photographers titled Thousands of Images, Now What?

One of the best minds in the DAM world is Peter Krogh. Time and time again, I come back to his sage advice whenever I need clarification on detailed issues surrounding managing digital files. Peter is this industry’s DAM guru and in my opinion is one of the best experts out there. I met him briefly about ten years ago at a PMA show and was thoroughly impressed with what he had to say. As far as I’m concerned, all digital photographers would do well to follow Peter’s advice.

Peter Krogh

Peter Krogh, DAM guru.

Peter has recently released two new books in his DAM series. The first book is titled Organizing Your Photographs with Lightroom 5 and the second is titled Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5. Here are my reviews of the two books.

Organizing Your Photographs with Lightroom 5 – Review


In this book, Peter Krogh discusses everything involved with the process of managing images in Lightroom 5. As such, the book spends the vast majority of time in the Library module and doesn’t spend significant time working in Lightroom’s other modules such as the Develop, Slideshow, Map, Book or Print modules. He discusses these other modules as they relate to organizing images, but doesn’t go into detail about using them for image enhancement or output production.

Organizing Your Photographs with Lightroom 5 is a multimedia eBook that incorporates text, graphics, animations and videos. Each of these elements work together seamlessly to thoroughly convey the book’s topics.

Each of the ten chapters is concise, yet thorough. The great thing about this book is that Krogh clearly explains the “how” while also articulating the “why.” For example, in his chapter on ratings and labels, he obviously demonstrates how to add ratings, but more importantly, he gives even detailed information as to the why. Over the course of many pages and numerous videos, he explains his system for rating images and describes how his methods have changed over the years. This insight is valuable and is obviously a result of his decades of working as a professional photographer.

Each aspect of using Lightroom as it relates to organizing images is covered in similar detail, from keywords to location tags to using presets to collections and Publish Services. The combination of written text, embedded videos and animated flow charts, all work together so the reader fully understands the topic.

The only downside of this book is that there is some duplicate information between it and his other book, Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5. However, this duplication is necessary, especially if someone only purchases one of the two books. I give this book the official Mike Hagen seal of approval and highly recommend it for all Lightroom users from beginners to experts.

Buy the book as a direct download for $34.95, DVD for $39.95 or as a printed book and DVD set for $59.95.

To purchase, head over to

Book Review: Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5 – Review


Peter Krogh describes this book as a textbook, workshop and seminar all rolled into one and I feel this is an apt description. The book’s text is written in great detail so it serves as a traditional reference textbook, but he also includes more than 3.5 hours of training videos that serve as both lecture and workshop to show how to put his concepts to use in the real world. The combination of these instructional elements means that you will understand the material no matter your learning style.

Most photographers use Lightroom 5 to access all of their photographs from a single catalog. Even though this is the easiest and best way to work with Lightroom, there are a number of reasons why it sometimes makes sense to work with multiple catalogs. For example, Lightroom becomes sluggish when the catalog grows above 100,000 or 200,000 images. For users like me with half a million or more images, working with a single catalog is not practical. For other photographers, they might need to work with the same catalog on two different computers. Still others might need different catalogs for their professional work versus their private work. Solving these types of issues are what this book is all about.

In true Peter Krogh style, he uses a combination of text, videos, animated flow charts and color screen shots to convey the message. Each of the important steps in the book has a few paragraphs of explanation, at least one video showing the approach and a written step-by-step guide to help you execute the appropriate steps. This triple-pronged approach to teaching is excellent.

Some of the major topics this book covers are:

– Working across multiple computers
– Merging catalogs
– Working with multiple disk drives
– Splitting catalogs
– Using smart previews
– Catalog management while traveling

In the last few chapter, Peter compiles all the previous content of the book into actual workflows that you’ll be able to use in your own computer system. Workflow 1 is using multiple catalogs on one computer. Workflow 2 is using Project and Master catalogs. Workflow 3 is using Working and Archive Catalogs. Workflow 4 is how to synchronize catalogs between different computers. Workflow 5 is using sub-catalogs while working on the road (he refers to them as satellite catalogs).

As Peter states in the introduction, this is not a basic Lightroom book. It goes deeply into this specific topic and assumes that you already understand how to use the software. As such, I don’t recommend Mult-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5 for new Lightroom users.

This is a great book and will be extremely helpful for many photographers. Peter Krogh’s writing style is straightforward, succinct and thorough. I appreciate that he doesn’t waste words and that he gets right to the point. I highly recommend this book, especially for advanced Lightroom users or for professional/amateurs who regularly work with hundreds of thousands of images across multiple computers.

Direct download for $34.95
DVD for $39.95
Buy the book here: Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5

Workshop and Business Updates

We keep adding new trips and workshops across the world including our newest adventures India and Iceland. Read below for more information.

Tanzania 2014
Our 2014 trip to Tanzania is going to be better than ever with an optimized travel schedule aimed at allowing us even more time to photograph wildlife in the field. This year’s Tanzanian photo safari is scheduled for November 4 – 15, 2014. Join us for a wildlife photography adventure you’ll never forget.

Here’s the link for more information: Tanzania Photo Safari

Iceland Birds and Landscapes Photo Adventure – Summer 2014
I’ll be working again with photographer Tim Vollmer to bring together a beautiful photo tour of the Land of Fire and Ice. Last year’s adventure was epic and I can’t wait to return to the land of fire and ice.

More information here: Iceland Birds and Landscapes

Cuba Photo Adventure Trip
Join us to photograph the relics of old Cuba before it transitions to the modern western influence. Our trip will operate on the official People to People visa created by the US Department of Commerce. This allows USA citizens a legal way to enter Cuba and experience the culture. We’ll be photographing every single day in areas ranging from the city of Havana to the rural Vinales.

More information here: Cuba Cultural Photo Adventure Trip

Northern India Tea, Landscape and Wildlife Photo Adventure
Trip dates April 29 – May 11, 2015
Join Mike Hagen and Tim Vollmer on a photo excursion to Northern India that you’ll never forget. We’ve timed our adventure to coincide with the tea harvest in Sikkim where we’ll be creating compelling images in the beautiful tea country highlands of colorful locals harvesting tea, sprawling tea plantations and verdant hills. The Kanchenjunga and Himalayan mountain ranges loom large and will provide stunning backdrops for many of our scenes. We will also be going to a wildlife sanctuary known for its population of rhinoceros, elephant, leopard and bison.

More information here: India Tea, Landscape and Wildlife – 2015

Galapagos Photography Adventure
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most amazing wildlife sanctuaries on planet earth. Join us as we photograph incredible animals while traveling on our own privately-chartered expedition yacht. This is a trip on just about every photographer’s bucket list and we are already 90% sold out. Don’t wait too long to sign up for this one.

More information here: Galapagos Wildlife Photo Adventure

Iceland in Winter – February 2015
Winter in Iceland is an incredible feast for the eyes. Stunning ice formations, glacial caves and icebergs resting on black sand beaches make for an image-maker’s dream. Our tour focuses on Iceland’s most impressive landscapes, waterfalls and natural features. It is going to be cold, but it will be worth it!

More information here: Iceland in Winter

Masters Series Workshops
We’ve added new Masters series workshops to the Nikonians Academy schedule to help photographers get the most out of their cameras, software and accessories. Our workshops run in cities all around North America and Europe. We hope to bring them to a city near you very soon. This year’s workshops cover:
• Nikon D600/D610
• Nikon D7000/D7100
• Nikon D4/D4s
• Nikon D800/D800E
• Nikon Df
• iTTL Wireless Flash
• Lightroom 5

Sign up for the workshops here: Nikonians Academy

Mike Hagen’s Books
Our how-to books continue to sell well and are designed to help photographers excel at their craft. More information here:
– Thousands of Images, Now What?
– The Nikon Creative Lighting System, Using the SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes
– Nikon Capture NX2, After the Shoot (Sold out, but available in eBook format)

Nikon Camera Setup Guides
If you are looking for information on how to set up your Nikon camera, then check out our Nikon Camera Setup Guides here:

Staying Current
You can stay current with our new workshop by watching for news to be posted at the blog, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Our Visual Adventures website is the new hub of our business operation. You’ll find links to everything we do including our books, workshops, products, newsletter, blog and photo galleries. For now, our previous website will stay put in its present form, but we won’t be adding new content there.

Good Morning !



Custom Group Trips

I frequently put together private trips for groups of photographers who want specialized instruction or guidance. For example, we recently put together a private trip for a small group of people to Tanzania.

If you have a group and want to arrange a custom photo trip to a destination, contact us and we’ll put together an incredible itinerary just for you. Our custom photo adventures are for people all around the world on topics ranging from nature photography, landscape photography, urban photography, location portraits, and just about anything else you can imagine. Simply email or call and we’ll give you all the details for how to go about creating the trip of your dreams.

Private Tutoring and Consulting

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 5, Photoshop CC, Aperture, Capture NX2, wedding photography, 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.

If you have questions about private tutoring or business consulting, call (253) 851-9054 or visit our site here: .


Thanks for taking the time to read this month’s newsletter. Feel free to write or contact us if you have questions about our trips or the articles in this newsletter.

If you are looking for more photo encouragement during the month, be sure to check out for regular updates, news, tips and commentary. Also, I encourage you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

aurora borealis

Tea plantation

© 2019 Visual Adventures | Site Policies | Web by Works Development