– New Books
– Stuff I Like This Month
– Studio Tips: Seven Things I Learned by Photographing 500 People
– Digital Tidbits: Don’t Forget These 3 Things in the Lightroom Develop Module
– Digital Tidbits: New Software Options in 2015
– Workshop and Business Updates
The photo industry is in a constant state of change. New products from companies like Light are released every day while other companies such as Photoflex, Tamrac and Metz are bought, sold or shut down. It’s tough to keep up with the current trends and it’s even tougher to make a living in this crazy photo world.
For photographers like us who love taking pictures, the important thing is to always be working at improving your craft. Often times, it isn’t owning the latest-greatest invention that makes our photographs better, rather it’s the hours and hours of practice that we put in that improves our photography. My encouragement to you this month is to not worry so much about the newest trends or the coolest new lens, but to focus on becoming a better photographer through practice.
Use the articles in this month’s newsletter as inspiration to get out and improve your photography. Use the article on photographing 500 people for a church directory to inspire you to photograph your child’s baseball team or your friend’s charity organization. Use the articles on software and Lightroom to inspire you to take your post-processing to the next level.
The key is to keep on shooting so that you continue improving.
Iceland 2015 is sold out. We’ll be back again in 2016 with another trip to Iceland.
Galapagos 2015 – September 12-19, 2015 still has spots available.
Tanzania 2015 – November 4-15, 2015 still has spots available.
On a related note, check out the new article just published on photographing in the Galapagos. Here’s a link to the Nikonian eZine: Download Nikon eZine 58
Stuff I Like This Month
Studio Tips: Seven Things I Learned by Photographing 500 People
Digital Tidbits: Don’t Forget These 3 Things in the Lightroom Develop Module
Digital Tidbits: New Software Options in 2015
Workshop and Business Updates
Over the last three months I’ve been hard at work on two new books. The first is an update to our best-selling flash book, The Nikon Creative Lighting System, 3rd edition, Using the SB-500, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes. Since this book has been so popular, the publisher (RockyNook) and I decided to update it for all the new cameras and flashes released since the book’s 2nd edition release in 2012. Here’s a brief summary of the additions we’ve made to the book:
– New chapter on the Nikon SB-500
– Updates on all chapters for the SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, SU-800, R1C1, and SB-R200 flashes.
– Updates for all new cameras including Nikon D7200, D750, D610, D810, D4s, Df, D3300, D5300, D5500 and more.
– Updated illustrations
– New photo examples
The book is going to print the week of April 20, 2015 and you’ll be able to pre-order your own copy here: Nikon Creative Lighting System 3rd Edition
Once published in May, you’ll be able to buy a copy from these locations:
The second book is a title I’ve had in mind for many years: The Nikon Autofocus System, Mastering Focus for Sharp Images Every Time. I’m writing this book specifically to help Nikon shooters master their autofocus system for all types of shooting scenarios. It is targeted to users of Nikon DSLR cameras and is designed for photographers to setup, use, and master autofocus in real world situations.
My favorite chapter is chapter 4 where I give over 25 different shooting scenarios and describe the best way to configure the autofocus system for each scenario. The book is going to cover just about every aspect of autofocus, including:
• Live view autofocus methods and settings
• Achieving great focus in video
• AF tracking
• AF shooting styles, such as back-button AF and shutter-release AF
• HDR, panoramas, and other techniques for shooting with a tripod
• An entire chapter on additional terms and techniques, such as hyperfocal distance, calibrating lenses, focus and flash photography, and more
The Nikon Autofocus System is scheduled to ship in November 2015.
Here’s the announcement page from our publisher RockyNook: The Nikon Autofocus System Announcement Page
Pre-order your copy now:
www.VisAdventures.com (signed copies)
1. For a very funny guide to common photographic words, check out this article written by Andy Hutchinson on PetaPixel. The Real Meanings of Common Photographic Words and Expressions: Part II
2. A brand new version of Snapseed for mobile image editing is live, now called Snapseed 2.0. I’m on the beta team and have been testing it for a few months. This is a great update and best of all, it is free!
More information and download links at our blog here: Snapseed 2.0
3. Apple just released the new Photos app for desktop computers that replaces iPhoto and Aperture. This new software is designed to sync all your devices together with the iCloud Photo Library. The goal is to be able to access your entire photo collection from your Mac and iOS device at any time. Click here for more information: Apple Photos
Along with this is a new iTunes release, version 12.1.2, that facilitates syncing photos from iOS devices to the new Photos app.
4. Adobe just released the newest version of Lightroom called Lightroom CC (or Lightroom 6). Three big improvements in Lightroom CC are:
a. The ability to perform panorama merges within Lightroom rather than having to go to Photoshop or a 3rd party app.
b. Facial recognition technology.
c. HDR merges natively inside the program.
Here’s a free guide to Lightroom CC Panoramas and HDR from RockyNook: Free Guide to Lightroom CC Panoramas and HDR
Buy Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC here: Purchase Adobe Lightroom CC
I just finished up a project where I photographed about 500 people for a church directory. If you are a long-time reader of my newsletter, then you know that I’ve done this in the past and that I greatly enjoy the process.
A project of this scope requires a lot of planning and forethought in order to pull it off. Every time I photograph a big event, I learn new things, so I thought I’d share seven things from this project that might help you if you ever decide to tackle a project like this on your own.
Before we get to the list, here’s a behind-the-scenes time-lapse video I put together of me setting up the studio.
Because this was for a church directory, most of the people that came into the photo studio weren’t happy to be there. For many, they were there out of obligation, rather than a desire to have their portrait taken.
As such, I had to work hard to calm people’s nerves and make them feel comfortable. I made a point to always be smiling, encouraging, and reassuring. My goal was to make the experience as painless as possible for each of the families while also working very fast to minimize the time spent by each person/family.
One of the ways I was able to make people comfortable was to notice and comment on the little accessories they were wearing. For example, most women would wear some type of jewelry like a necklace, bracelet, or broach. I tried to acknowledge that item and ask about it because it was obviously important to them. Just having that simple conversation took their minds off the process of photography and helped dissipate their nervousness. Bantering back and forth immediately relaxed the atmosphere.
Looking good is important, not just for millennials, but also for those born in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Everyone wants to look their best in a photo, so do your best to make them look great by perfecting their pose, fixing clothing, making sure hair is perfect, and making sure their smile is on point.
Many of the people who I photographed that were in their 80’s already knew exactly how they wanted to be photographed. I had multiple women in their 80’s tell me how they were going to stand, where they were going to look, and how I was going to compose the shot. In these situations, I said, “Yes ma’am,” and took the shot the way they wanted. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor!
Kids will be kids. No matter how hard you try, sometimes it is near impossible to get a kid to look at the camera and smile. I had one family who’s son was very wiggly and wouldn’t settle down. In some shots, the son would be looking at the ceiling, and in other shots he’d be making faces. For the single shot where the son was actually looking at the camera, the rest of the family wasn’t! So, I ended up doing a little Photoshop work to composite the head from the “good son” shot to the “good rest of the family” photograph. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do in order to get the shot.
Women. Hate. Wrinkles. It is that simple. Therefore, do everything in your power as the photographer to minimize wrinkles. This includes:
• Using soft lighting to reduce harsh shadows.
• Shooting from a slightly higher angle so the chin hides a bit of the neck.
• Making sure women don’t twist their necks too much so wrinkles don’t form beneath the jaw.
• Perform post-processing as necessary in Lightroom and Photoshop to soften skin.
For this project, right after taking portraits for each family, I was able to show them their images on my computer screen where they could make immediate decisions on whether or not they liked the shots. If they didn’t like their poses, I could use the photographs to give clear instructions for how to stand, where to put their hands, and how to tilt their heads. I can’t imagine doing a big shoot like this without tethering.
If you are going to tether, then I strongly recommend using a cable to connect your camera to your computer. Lots of newer cameras have WiFi connections that also allow connection to your computer, but I don’t suggest doing this for high volume shoots. I like hard-wired connections for two reasons:
a. They are reliable. WiFi and other wireless connections like NFC (near field communication) are prone to disruption. Wired solutions have very few problems. Even if the camera becomes disconnected for some reason, the time required to reconnect is much shorter than reestablishing a wireless connection.
b. Faster data transfer. Transferring full resolution 36MP RAW files from my D800 to the computer over WiFi would have taken an eternity. Even with USB 3.0, there’s a little bit of a wait, but not so much that the client becomes impatient. Use cabled connections for the fastest download speeds.
Any time you set out to photograph hundreds of people, make sure you spend a good amount of time planning. In my case, I met with the church administrator about one-and-a-half months before the start of our photography to settle on the specific times we’d be shooting. This allowed the church to do their own internal advertising to try to get as many people as possible onto the shooting schedule.
We created an online web-based signup form where people could self-select their own appointment times in ten-minute appointment windows. This web form significantly cut down on the overall administration requirements for the project. That said, because we were photographing all generations, there were many people who didn’t have computers or access to the Internet, so we still had to do some manual signups.
I set up the studio the day before our shooting began. Here are a few of the things I added to the studio in order to improve the overall experience:
a. I knew that people would come early, so I created a lobby area for people to sit down while they were waiting.
b. Set up a large mirror so people could touch up their hair and makeup.
c. Set up a sign-in table and set out print order forms in case people wanted to order prints from their photo session.
d. Taped down extension cords and the edges of my background cloth in order to reduce tripping hazards.
e. Created movement corridors for people to get from the back of the studio to the posing area.
f. Made prints of portraits and attached them to the wall for people to view. This also helped customers choose what size prints they wanted to buy. I mounted prints varying in size from 8”x10” all the way up to 20”x30”.
Most people don’t have a clue how to stand or hold their head during their portrait. Unfortunately, verbally describing what you want a person to do often isn’t good enough. For example, if you say, “tilt your head a little bit to the left,” one person will put their ear on their shoulder while another person will rotate their head so their nose is pointed towards the wall.
A better solution is to show them by moving your own head. Better yet, if they’ll allow you, physically move them to the exact position you are requesting. Keep in mind to always ask permission before touching anyone.
Be very specific when you do use verbal posing instructions. For example, rather than say, “Scoot a little bit to your right,” say, “Move your feet exactly two inches to the right.” The more specific you are, the better your poses will be.
Often I tell the husband to put his hand on the back of his wife. Most of the time, he will respond by wrapping his arm over his wife’s shoulder or all the way around her waist. Again, I get specific and say, “Put the palm of your left hand on the small of your wife’s back.” If he still does it wrong, then I walk over and show him where to place his hand.
When you have hundreds of people going through your studio in a steady line, it is important to always be professional in the way you treat people. Always be on your best behavior. Be happy, positive and helpful. Thank people for taking the time out of their busy schedules and always try to find a way to make their day a little better.
Treat people well and they’ll talk positively about the experience to all their friends. Treat people poorly and … well … you know.
With the April, 2015 release of Lightroom CC (Lightroom 6), everyone is talking about the newest features of the program. I’ll have plenty of articles on those new features in the future, but for now here’s a quick article on three important “old” tools you shouldn’t forget to use when processing your photographs.
The three tools you shouldn’t forget are: Lens Profile Correction, Chromatic Aberration, and Perspective Control. You’ll find all three of these in the Lens Corrections panel of the Develop module of Lightroom 4, 5, 6 or CC. Using these three tools will help make your image just a bit better. They take an already-good photograph and help bring it to the next level so the image can be great.
Every lens has at least a small amount of distortion. Even my most expensive lenses have a little bit of either pincushion or barrel distortion. Pincushion distortion is when the edges of your photo bend inwards while barrel distortion is when the edges of your photo bend outwards and look like a whiskey barrel.
Distortion really manifests itself when photographing subjects like buildings and architecture. In these cases, you obviously want the pillars to be straight and not bent inwards or outwards. To fix this distortion (bending), click the checkbox next to Enable Profile Corrections found in the Basic tab of the Lens Corrections panel.
Checking this box will immediately enable the correct profile for your specific lens. Adobe has built in lens profiles for just about every lens and camera combination on the market. So if you use a Sigma lens on a Nikon D 7100 then Lightroom will be able to properly fix the distortion.
If you are not happy with the automated repair that the check box gives, then go to the manual tab and fiddle with the sliders until you are happy with the result. These sliders allow full control over all the distortion parameters including distortion, vertical, horizontal, rotate, scale, and aspect ratio.
If you click on the check box next to constrain crop then Lightroom will automatically cropped the image in real time while you were changing things like keystoning, rotation, and aspect ratio. If you do not put a check in the box, then Lightroom will produce white areas whenever your distortion repair results in a nonrectangular image.
Chromatic aberration is a function of the lens that you’re using rather than a function of your camera’s imaging sensor quality. Even the highest quality lenses can produce objectionable amounts of chromatic aberration given the right circumstances.
Generally, you’ll see chromatic aberration in an image when photographing something dark that is juxtaposed against a bright background. For example, a branch against the sky or a black rock against a white oceanscape. Chromatic aberration usually manifests itself with purple and green showing up along the edges of your subject.
Lightroom has a very good chromatic aberration repair tool that you’ll find in the Lens Corrections panel in the Develop module. To turn it on, click the checkbox next to Remove Chromatic Aberration on the Basic tab. Just checking the box does a pretty good job and will generally suffice for most of your images.
However, if you have really bad chromatic aberration that this checkbox does not fix, then you’ll need to go to the Color tab and adjust for the specific colors of aberration that you find in your photograph. To fix, simply adjust the Amount slider up, then move the Purple Hue and Green Hue sliders left and right until the color disappears.
You might be asking yourself if CA (chromatic aberration) is something you really need to worry about. Most photographers have never even thought about CA before and the truth is that most people will never see CA because they are actually looking for it.
Fixing CA is most important when you are making very large prints. Take a look at this large print I made from Hawaii (above). In this 4 ft. x 6 ft. print, I can see chromatic aberration on the edges of the rocks. I didn’t pay attention to the CA on my computer screen, so I didn’t even think to remove it in Lightroom. Once I printed out the image and mounted the huge print on the wall, I could easily see the green and purple chromatic aberration.
Another scenario where you’ll want to fix chromatic aberration is when you are doing major tonal adjustments such as Shadow/Highlight recovery or HDR (high dynamic range) imaging. In either of these cases, pushing your shadows and highlights around while trying to recover extra dynamic range from an image really tends to accentuate chromatic aberration.
The final tool I don’t want you to forget to use in Lightroom is perspective control. Odd image perspective shows in your images whenever you tilt your camera up or down. In other words, if you keep your camera level then you will not generally have a problem with perspective. On the other hand, if you point your camera up or down then you will see keystoning in your images.
Lightroom has quite a few fixes for this and they are all found in the Lens Corrections panel of the Develop Module. There are 5 buttons at the bottom of the Basic tab. They are labeled Off, Auto, Level, Vertical, and Full. Each of these buttons performs a different amount of perspective control on your image. Some are more aggressive than others, but you never really know which one will work best until you try them out.
Over the years, I have found that the Auto button tends to be most consistently good while the Full button tends to be very aggressive with perspective control.
The photo processing software landscape is constantly changing with products coming and going at a very fast rate. This flux in the industry makes it hard for us photographers to commit to a specific piece of software long term. Here are the new photo software options for 2015.
In 2014, Apple announced that Aperture will no longer be supported for future versions of OS X. That left a lot of photographers in the lurch and caused many to jump ship to Adobe Lightroom.
The new Apple Photos replaces all previous versions of Apple iPhoto and Aperture. You’ll be able to migrate your projects over to Photos, but the crazy thing is that Photos doesn’t support projects any longer.
The list of things that Photos doesn’t do is too long to enumerate here, but just know that it is a slightly better version of iPhoto and a very long ways away from Aperture. In no way is Photos a professional editing tool like Lightroom. But, it shouldn’t be confused with professional editing tools because it wasn’t designed to be one. It is designed to help casual shooters organize photos from their iPhone across all their digital platforms including laptop, iPad, iPhone, iWatch and iCloud. From that standpoint, it does its job very well.
The interesting thing is that Lightroom is also headed to further cloud integration with their Lightroom Mobile app. It will be interesting to see where this all leads.
The big killer for me is the fact that metadata entry and ratings (stars and colors) are almost completely gone. I couldn’t function without star ratings, color ratings, tags and keywords. Another big killer for me is that there’s currently no plug-in support or links to external editors. I use alternative apps like Photoshop, Nik Collection, Macphun and others quite extensively. Not having these supported means using Apple Photos will be much more difficult.
Photos is a free program and is automatically included in the newest update of the Macintosh operating system version 10.10.3. Download your free version of Apple Photos here: https://www.apple.com/osx/photos/
Affinity Photo is a Mac-only digital photo editing software package designed to compete directly with Photoshop CC. It isn’t a database tool like Lightroom, rather it is RAW processor and a pixel-level editing tool like Photoshop.
It is billed to be one of the fastest-rendering editing tools and is designed to be more intuitive than Photoshop. Its’ auto masking utilities are created to speed up your workflow by making it easier to selectively edit regions of the photograph like a model’s face or a landscape’s sky. It is fully compatible with PSD (Photoshop Document) files and works in RGB, CMYK, Greyscale, and LAB color spaces.
The rendering engine is lightning fast and displays filter adjustments almost instantaneously without any hesitation or hiccups. The RAW processing engine is very similar to what you’d find in Lightroom or Photoshop and appears to be fairly robust. Affinity Photo has all the sliders and adjustments you’d expect to see including:
• White balance
• Black point
• Lens profiles
• Chromatic aberration reduction
• Noise reduction
Time will tell if Affinity Photo is a true contender to Photoshop CC. As far as I can tell, they are off to a good start.
Download your beta version of Affinity Photo here: Affinity Photo Beta
Check out their online video tutorials here: Affinity Videos
Nikon has been all over the map with their software development in the last year and a half. They killed off Nikon Capture NX2 and created a much more basic RAW editor called Nikon Capture NX-D. In early 2015, they killed off their browser called Nikon View NX2 and have announced a new software program called View NX-i.
The purpose of NX-i is to be an operational hub for photos and video captured with Nikon cameras. NX-i mainly serves as an image browser. If you have to do RAW image file developing, then you’ll need to send the photo over to Nikon Capture NX-D where you’ll be able change things like tone curves, exposure compensation, D-lighting, and noise reduction.
The crazy thing is that Nikon software programs always seem to be in various states of development. Nikon states on their website that full functionality of NX-i won’t be available until later this year. Unfortunately, they tend to kill off the old application before the new application is fully ready for market.
For example, when I click on the “Edit” button from View NX-i, the program is supposed to automatically send the photo to NX-D for editing. However, I regularly receive a pop-up error message stating, “NX-D cannot open files in the JPEG image format.”
What? Nikon Capture NX-D can’t edit JPG files? This just doesn’t make sense. I’m sure this is a bug in the software, but it just further illustrates how far Nikon needs to go before they create a post-processing imaging solution for the mass market. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing “good” about NX-D and NX-i right now is that they are free. Hopefully Nikon will quickly improve these programs for public use.
Download your own copy of View NX-i here: View NX-i
Download your own copy for Capture NX-D here: Capture NX-D
As far as I’m concerned, Lightroom is still at the top of the heap in terms of usable, professional photo software. The cool thing about Lightroom is the developers continue to integrate the very best concepts from the digital editing world into the program, while still maintaining its high-end editing and cataloging features (unlike Apple Photos). Things like facial recognition, metadata entry, database management and full Creative Cloud integration with the web means that Lightroom CC/6 is currently the best all-around photography software on the market today.
Adobe released Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6 in April 2015. These two programs are fundamentally the same, but Lightroom 6 is a standalone version you can purchase for $149 and Lightroom CC is a subscription version you can buy for $9.99 per month. Lightroom 6 lacks the mobile and web components you get with the Lightroom CC subscription plan.
New in this version of Lightroom CC
• HDR Merge
• Panorama stitching
• Faster performance and rendering
• Facial recognition
• Better video slide shows
• Improved web galleries
• Brush editing of graduated and radial filters
• Better photo sharing with mobile and desktop
• Support for Android (in addition to iOS)
• Visual storytelling with Adobe Voice and Slate
• Better copy-paste processing
• Better presentation modes on iPad/iPhone
• Faster searching database with iOS
• Composition adjustment on iOS
Here’s a free guide from RockyNook: Free Guide to Lightroom Panoramas and HDR
Buy Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC here: Buy Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6
The Galapagos Islands is home to 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.
More information here:
Our last trip to Tanzania was one of the best we’ve ever had and 2015 promises to be even better. I continue to optimize our travel schedule so that it allows even more time to photograph wildlife in the field. This year’s Tanzanian photo safari is scheduled for November 4 – 15, 2015. Join us for a wildlife photography adventure you’ll never forget.
Here’s the link for more information:
Tanzania Photo Safari
This trip is sold out for 2015. I’ll be working again with photographer Tim Vollmer (http://timvollmer.de) 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:
Our how-to books continue to sell well and are designed to help photographers excel at their craft. More information here: http://visadventures.com/shop/category/photo-books/
– Thousands of Images, Now What?
– The Nikon Creative Lighting System, Using the SB-500, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes
– Nikon Capture NX2, After the Shoot (Out of Print)
If you are looking for information on how to set up your Nikon camera, then check out our Nikon Camera Setup Guides here: http://visadventures.com/shop/category/camera-setup-guides/
Our Visual Adventures website www.VisAdventures.com 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 www.outthereimages.com will stay put in its present form, but we won’t be adding new content there.
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.
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: http://visadventures.com/services/private-travel-tours/ .
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 articles.
If you are looking for more photo encouragement during the month, be sure to check out http://VisAdventures.com/blog/ for regular updates, news, tips and commentary. Also, I encourage you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.