Cuba Photo Tour 2018 Ready for Signups

Posted November 15th, 2017 by   |  Travel, Workshops  |  Permalink

Cuba photo grid

Our 2018 trip to Cuba is posted and ready for signups. Check out our information page, then send me an email if you have further questions.

Tour Dates
Main Tour: October 6-14, 2018
Trinidad Extension: October 14-17, 2018

Link –> http://visadventures.com/workshops/Cuba-Photo-Tour-2018/





Nikon D850 and D7500 Setup Guides

Posted November 8th, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

I’ve just completed camera setup guides for the Nikon D850 and Nikon D7500 cameras. These are designed to help you configure the camera menus and settings for different scenarios such as:

Nature/Travel
Sports/Action
Portraits/Weddings
Point & Shoot

These guides represent my suggested settings based on my shooting style and experience. The cool thing about these cameras is their custom While you’re at it, check out the setup guides for the D500 and D5 cameras as well.

Download our free Nikon setup guide PDF downloads here:

Nikon D850 Menu Setup Guide

Nikon D7500 Menu Setup Guide

Nikon D500 Menu Setup Guide

Nikon D5 Menu Setup Guide

All Nikon Camera Setup Guides





Photo Week 2017 with CreativeLive

Posted October 5th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Uncategorized, Workshops  |  Permalink

PhotoWeek graphic

Next week is Photo Week with CreativeLive.com and I’m proud to be a part of their production. I’ll be teaching three live classes, hosting a live travel photography critique, and will be hosting the closing event with a panel of accomplished photographers including Ian Shive, Clay Cook and Michael Clark.

The awesome thing about CreativeLive is anybody can watch for free during the live broadcasts. I’d love to hear from you during the classes, so RSVP at the links below and say hi during the live shows!

PhotoWeek October 9-13, 2017

Here are all the links you need:

1. Class 1, October 12, 2017, 1:15 PM –> Introduction to Macro Photography w/ Mike Hagen

2. Class 2, October 13, 2017, 9:00 AM –> Fundamentals for Great Prints w/ Mike Hagen

3. Class 3, October 13, 2017, 10:45 AM –> Color Management for Better Prints w/ Mike Hagen

4. Travel Photography Critique, October 13, 2017, 12:15 PM –> Clay Cook and Mike Hagen

5. Photographer’s Panel, October 13, 2017, 5:00 PM –> Mike Hagen w/ Ian Shive, Clay Cook and Michael Clark

6. Link to all Photo Week classes and events –> Photo Week 2017

7. Mike’s CreativeLive Instructor Page –> Mike Hagen’s classes with CreativeLive

If you miss the classes during the live broadcasts, no worries! You can still purchase the classes to view on your own time, on your own schedule. CreativeLive will also be rebroadcasting all of the classes as the week progresses.

See you there!

PW 2017 Instructors





24 Hours With a Nikon D850

Posted September 9th, 2017 by   |  Photography, sports, Wildlife  |  Permalink

I received my Nikon D850 24 hours ago and can comfortably state that this is the best all-around camera Nikon has ever produced. It excelled at every single situation I threw at it. Nikon makes other cameras that specialize at specific aspects like frame rate (D5/D500), high ISO performance (D5). But nothing combines all the features (resolution, dynamic range, high ISO performance, frame rate, autofocus, buffer depth, ergonomics, image quality) like the D850.

Nikon D850 focus

Macro photo using the Nikon D850 focus stacking utility. 1/640 sec, f/5.6, ISO 560, 24-70mm f/2.8

During the last 24 hours, I’ve put it through a pretty good representative sample of outdoor photography situations including:

– Birds

– Macro (focus stacking)

– High dynamic range panoramas

– Black and white conversions

– Architecture at sunset

– Night football at ISO 25,600

– Cross country meet

Here are photos with captions to show some background information and exposure details.

D850 panorama

Panorama of Gig Harbor with high dynamic range. Nikon D850, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

D850 pano

One of the original RAW files for the above panorama. Panorama of Gig Harbor with high dynamic range. Nikon D850, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

Night football

Night football game. Nikon D850, 1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 25600, 300mm, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

100 percent crop

100% crop from above photograph. Night football game. Nikon D850, 1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 25600, 300mm, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

Great blue heron Nikon D850

Great blue heron. Nikon D850, Nikon 200-500mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 460mm.

100% crop

100% crop from above photo. Great blue heron. Nikon D850, Nikon 200-500mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 460mm.

blue heron

The D850 shoots at 7 FPS out of the box enabling you to get shots like this. Great blue heron. Nikon D850, Nikon 200-500mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500, 460mm.

D850 black and white

Black and white conversions are beautiful from the D850. 1/200 sec, f/9, ISO 125, 200mm, Nikon 200-500mm

X-C Runner

Cross country athlete. Nikon D850, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 125, f/2.8.

Lincoln X-C

This is one of the state’s best runners. The D850 handled the high contrast scene just fine. 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100, 120mm, 70-200mm f/2.8

female X-C

1/1000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 125, 200mm, 70-200mm f/2.8

Night football

Autofocus performance was stellar, even in this dark high school football stadium. 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 25600, 300mm, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

St Anthony's Hospital

The Nikon D850 makes an excellent architectural photography camera. 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 14mm, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8.

Sparrow

This is a very tight crop of a sparrow from a long ways away. The amount of detail in the 46 MP file is stunning. 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1000, 500mm, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6

Crow

There’s lots of detail in those feathers with the Nikon D850. See below for 100% crop. 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, 500mm, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6.

Crow2

Here’s the 100% crop of the above crow photograph. 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400, 500mm, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6.

 

 

 





Scott Kelby Guest Blog

Posted June 1st, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Scott Kelby and Brad Moore asked me to write an article for their guest blog this week. I chose to write on a different aspect of my professional photography business that most don’t know about.

Here’s the link –> Kelby Guest Blog by Mike Hagen

Guest blog

 





New CreativeLive Class: Outdoor Flash Photography

Posted May 30th, 2017 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

Into to outdoor flash

Join me on June 6th for a free live broadcast of our newest CreativeLive workshop: Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography.

Here’s the direct link to RSVP and watch event live –> CreativeLive Introduction to Outdoor Flash Photography

Course Details

How To Overpower The Sun For Great Photos

Relying on natural light may work for many scenarios, but how do you learn to control light more effectively with flash? A small flash can help make the most of your outdoor situations whether working in direct or dappled lighting. It gives you the ability to overpower sunlight and add warmth to overcast days.

Mike Hagen will walk through how to easily take control of your lighting and ultimately control of your photos. If you’re new to using a flash, this course will teach you:

– The essentials of your camera and flash settings
– How to build and set ambient exposure
– Using your flash on and off camera
– How to freeze action and add motion blur
– How to use modifiers and reflectors with off camera flash

No matter if you’re shooting portraits, sports, or macro photography, Mike Hagen will show you all the ways to define your subject and enhance your images. This class is a perfect follow-up to Mike’s How to Shoot with Your First Flash and will give you the confidence to use your flash in all situations.





Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2 Real World Review

Posted May 29th, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink
Tamron 70-200mm

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2

Here’s all you need to know about the new Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2 lens: It is an excellent lens for a very attractive price.

Seriously, I have never used a Tamron lens this good in my entire career. I’ve owned three Tamrons over the years and have always been disappointed with something about them. My previous Tamron lenses suffered from low image quality, build quality, feel, function, flare, chromatic aberration, color fidelity, or a mix of each. This new 70-200mm G2 lens from Tamron is truly excellent, and that’s coming from a long-time Nikon die-hard.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz about this lens in the photo media, so I felt I had to try it out myself. I purchased my own copy from Adorama.com and have been using it for the last two weeks at school track meets and in my hometown of Gig Harbor, Washington.

The Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 is available in Nikon and Canon mounts. For this review, I tested a Nikon mount version and used it predominately on my Nikon D500. It is a full-frame lens and works seamlessly with full-frame and cropped-frame cameras. My Nikon version is fully compatible with cameras like the D5, D750, D810, D7500, D7200, D610, D5600 and so on.

One of the biggest things going for this lens is its relatively low price. At $1,299 it is less than half the cost of the $2,800 Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. For this price differential, you can buy the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 and the new Nikon 200-500mm lens ($1,400) while still having enough money left over for $100 of Starbuck’s lattes. That’s at least a week of coffee for us Washingtonians!

AF Performance

100m

This photo is indicative of the lens’ clarity and AF performance. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

On my Nikon D500, the autofocus performance of the Tamron is truly superb. It is snappy and accurate and among the best-performing autofocus lenses I own. The silent wave motor is truly silent and effortlessly tracks moving subjects, no matter how fast they are moving.

hurdler

Photographing hurdlers was no problem with the Tamron. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

I took the lens to two track meets and shot over 3,500 photos of athletes in motion. Of those images, I estimate only about 150 to 200 shots to be unusable. Half of the unusable shots were my fault for mistakenly twisting the focus ring rather than the zoom ring while shooting.

This AF “hit” performance is a big improvement over all previous Tamron lenses I’ve used and matches up with any of my pro Nikon f/2.8 lenses. Really, I was very impressed.

milers

Getting tack-sharp images of athletes running the mile is no problem with the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

I just finished writing my new book; Nikon Autofocus System 2nd Edition and I wish I had this lens during the writing process. I definitely would have given Tamron a shout out in my lens section of the book as a high performing 3rd party lens.

Vibration Compensation (Image Stabilization) Performance

The VC (vibration compensation) mechanism on this lens is excellent. I’ve found that mode 3 works the best for my hand-held sports and action work, as it is designed to be the most aggressive.

There are three vibration compensation modes:

Mode 1 – This is a basic mode that tries to strike a balance between finder-image stability and vibration compensation performance. This mode isn’t as aggressive as Mode 3, but is a good all-around VC mode for when you want to “see” the VC effect through the viewfinder.

Mode 2 – Panning mode. Use when panning left or right with moving subjects.

Mode 3 – Prioritizes vibration compensation performance, compensating only at the moment the shutter is released. This is the most aggressive setting and Tamron claims it compensates up to 5 stops. I haven’t fully tested it to see if their claims are true, but I have found this mode to be “best” during my testing. When I have more time, I’ll try to hand-hold some 200mm shots at 1/15 second or 1/8 second shutter speeds to see if it is truly possible.

Low light portrait

Photographs in lower light levels are no problem with the excellent vibration compensation settings on the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Minimum Focus Distance

The lens focuses down to 3.1 feet (0.95 meter), so at 200mm, it has a 1:6 reproduction ratio. This is definitely sufficient, but doesn’t focus as close as the Nikon (1:4.8) or Canon (1:5) models. If I were using this lens to do macro work, then I’ll add an extension tube to improve its close-focusing capability.

Handling and Ergonomics

Handling is very good and the lens feels solid. The zoom ring is at the front of the lens, so depending on what previous lens you were using, you’ll have to get used to holding the lens at the front of the barrel.

My first two days using the lens was a bit frustrating because I would rotate the focus ring by habit, thinking I was rotating the zoom ring. Not a big deal, but some of you Nikon and Canon shooters will have to spend time learning new muscle memory.

Gig Harbor Bay

Make sure you put your hand on the correct control ring when zooming, otherwise you’ll accidentally rotate the focus ring. Tug boat and sail boat Gig Harbor, Washington. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

Tripod Foot & Lens Collar

Tripod mount

The lens collar and tripod foot are designed with the Arca Swiss standard. This is a very nice touch.

A very nice touch is the tripod foot on the lens collar. It is designed with the Arca Swiss plate architecture built in. That means if you are using a RRS or Kirk or Arca Swiss quick release system, you won’t need to purchase an additional plate.

The lens collar is solid and stable. It is designed so you can quickly and easily remove it from the lens barrel for more comfortable hand-holding.

What Needs Improvement?

Lens barrel switches

There are four switches on the lens barrel of the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Lens barrel switches

I regularly and inadvertently toggle the lens barrel switches on/off while taking the lens in and out of my camera bag. There are four lens barrel switches:

– VC (image stabilization) mode: 1 – 2 – 3.

– VC on/off

– AF/MF

– Focus distance limit: Full or infinity to 3m

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had all four switches turn on or off as I brought the camera out of the bag to take shots. Sometimes it is the AF/MF switch, which turns off autofocus. Just yesterday I accidently turned off the focus distance limit switch. I was shooting a close up of a crab on the beach and couldn’t figure out why the lens wouldn’t focus closer than about 10 feet. I pulled the camera away from my eye, and quickly diagnosed the problem … SWITCH!!!

The switches on Nikon lenses are much lower-profile and therefore don’t get inadvertently moved while using the lens in the real world.

Lens Caps

The lens caps work “fine”, but they are a bit clunky. The front cap works better than the rear. My problem with the rear cap is that it doesn’t mount/dismount as easily or quickly as the Nikon OEM caps.

The Tamron rear lens cap works with my Nikon lenses, but it doesn’t easily snap into place like I’m used to with the Nikon cap. The solution is easy though; I’ve decided to use only Nikon lens caps! I have enough of them, so I’ll be using the Nikon caps from now on.

Yacht narrows bridges

Yacht under Tacoma Narrows bridges, Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

Summary

Overall, I give this lens two big thumbs up. I have decided to keep the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 in my camera bag as my primary pro 70-200 lens. I’ll work around the minor issues I detailed above because the cost of the lens is so much lower than the cost of the Nikon. Auto focus performance is among the best I’ve seen and the resulting images are top notch.

Tamron has come a long way and if this lens is any indication of their commitment to excellence, I’d say Nikon and Canon better keep upping their game!

Order Links

Adorama

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon Mount

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Canon Mount

Amazon

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon and Canon Mounts

Additional Sample Photographs

 

Kid pic

Group of kids. Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

track portrait

Portrait of track athlete. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

sprint finish

Women’s 100 meter sprint. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

sprint finish

Women’s 100 meter dash finish. Nikon D500, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2.

 

hurdles

100 meter hurdles race. Nikon D500 and Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC G2





New Book – Nikon Autofocus System – 2nd Edition

Posted May 18th, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Nikon autofocus 2nd edition cover

RockyNook and I have been hard at work preparing the second edition of our top-selling Nikon Autofocus System book. This edition includes updates for the autofocus systems in the new Nikon D500 and Nikon D5 cameras. I’ve also added new imagery, fixed errors from the last book (thanks internet!) and updated quite a few sections. If you are a Nikon shooter wanting to get the most out of your autofocus system, then this book should be right up your alley.

The eBook is available now and the hard copy books will be available beginning June 19th, 2017.

Purchase Links:

eBook and Hard Copy –> RockyNook

eBook and Hard Copy –> Amazon.com

Author autographed copies –> VisAdventures.com

 

 





Five Tips for Backyard Wildlife Photography

Posted May 4th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Wildlife  |  Permalink
Coyote

This coyote has been hanging around our yard lately. Whenever the sun is out, he’ll take a nap out in the open to soak up some rays. I shot this from my front porch with a Nikon D500 and a 200-400mm f/4.

If you have a backyard, odds are that you also have animal visitors from time to time. Most urban backyards see their fair share of birds and squirrels. In more rural areas, backyards might even have deer, coyotes, raccoons, and bears come through from time to time.

Photographing wild animals from the comfort of my home is one of my favorite pastimes. I find it gratifying when I’m able to create a beautiful wildlife image on my property, especially knowing that a warm fireplace and a refreshing drink are just a few feet away.

Here are five tips for successful backyard wildlife photography.

Keep a camera & lens at the ready

Always have your camera ready to go with a lens mounted. I make a habit of leaving my telephoto lens & camera mounted on a tripod in my office, so all I need to do is grab the setup and start shooting. Backyard wildlife is often on the move, so you want to be able quickly get into position whenever an animal enters your yard. Rifling through your camera bag while trying to find your gear usually means missing the shot.

fawn

Baby deer in the woods. Every spring, we see a new crop of baby deer in our yard. This one was hiding in the woods and remained motionless while I photographed her with a Nikon D750 and a Nikon 200-400mm f/4.

Use driveway alert sensors

I’ve installed driveway alert sensors at a couple places on my property to indicate whenever something is moving outside. They are very inexpensive and are an easy way to have something always on the alert for wildlife. These sensors allow me to carry on with my life, but be alerted when something is happening outside. (Here’s a link to some driveway motion alert sensors at Amazon)

rabbit and purple flowers

My driveway alert sensors let me know whenever things are moving around in my yard. We have so many rabbits that the sensors that sometimes the sensors drive me crazy! Nikon D500, 200-400mm f/4.

Use your house as a blind

Shooting from inside of the home is a great way hide from wildlife. I recommend opening a window or door so you don’t shoot through the glass. You might need to remove a window screen so you can shoot through the open area.

Whenever I get lazy and photograph through a pane of glass, I find that I get “OK” photographs, but they just aren’t super sharp. Take the time to open the window. You’ll thank yourself later.

Deer in yard

Two deer in the yard licking water off of each other’s face. Nikon D500, 200-400mm f/4.

Shoot at eye level

Your shots will look much better if you are able to photograph the animal at eye level. Whenever possible, get outside and lower your tripod legs so the camera is low to the ground. Shooting from this perspective will produce much more dramatic images. Also, a lower perspective has the added benefit of moving the background farther away so the animal pops from the scene.

Deer in grass

Deer laying in the grass on a rainy day. Photographed from my living room through my open patio door. Nikon D500, 200-400mm f/4.

Use a fast shutter speed

Most of the wildlife you photograph in your backyard will be skittish. Since they’ll probably be moving around a lot, I suggest shooting at 1/500 second or higher. This will help freeze movement from turning heads, twitching eyes, and sudden movements. I you are having difficulty reaching 1/500 second because of low light, then increase your ISO to 3,200 or 6,400 (or higher) in order to get the shutter speed you are after.

rabbit in the grass

Rabbits are twitchy animals and always have something moving on their faces. You need faster shutter speeds to keep everything sharp. Nikon D500, Nikon 200-400mm f/4.





VertiZonical – A Simple Photo Composition Memory Aid

Posted March 11th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Vertizonical

I received a phone call the other day from a previous workshop attendee named Craig Quartz. He called to tell me a quick story about his last Meetup Group in Portland, Oregon where he was asked to share his top-ten tips for photography. While presenting to the group, he listed off a number of tips on exposure, exposing for the highlights, focus, and composition.

After finishing his tips, everyone in the room room yelled out, “What about Vertizonical!?” For the last number of years, he’s been sharing his favorite tip called Vertizonical to anyone in the club who would listen, but he neglected to mention it to the Portland Meetup group that night, so they all yelled it out in unison! Craig first learned this made-up term from me a few years ago at one of my workshops and now he shares it with anyone who will listen. I was talking about photographic composition and I made up the term vertizonical on the spot during the class. Obviously, the term stuck around!

 

Galapagos Sunset

Galapagos sunset in horizontal composition. Nikon D800, 200-400mm f/4, handheld.

Galapagos sunset

Galapagos sunset in vertical composition. Nikon D800, 200-400mm f/4, handheld.

Vertizonical is simply an approach to help you remember to always take both vertical and horizontal images of each scene you photograph. This discipline of shooting vertical and horizontal allows you the most options when you are editing your images back home after your photo shoot. It is much easier to take another 30 seconds in the field to shoot a different orientation than it is to try and do some industrial Photoshop work on your computer to create a composition that you never produced.

Galapagos lava field vertical

Galapagos lava field in vertical orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos lava horizontal

Galapagos lava field in horizontal orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Look at these photo examples from Galapagos in this blog post. Many of the images from this volcanic landscape are austere and dramatic. I love the challenge of creating compelling landscapes in difficult locations. While on the location, I work hard to compose my imagery in the best way possible. Even so, I’ve found over the years that I’m hardly ever the best judge of my compositions while I’m on location because my emotion takes over and due to the thrill of just being there.

Years ago, I was so confident, that I just “knew” that a specific composition was perfect as soon as I saw it. Unfortunately, I’d get home from my shoot and wish I had more options to choose from. Now that I’m older and wiser and more disciplined, I take the time in the field to shoot almost all my scenes vertically and horizontally.

hermit crab horizontal

Galapagos hermit crab in horizontal composition. Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f/4, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos hermit crab

Galapagos hermit crab in vertical composition. Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f/4, Gitzo CF tripod.

Since I’m a professional photographer, this approach pays off financially for me in various ways.

– My book publishers often need images in a specific orientation for layouts.

– A commercial client needs a specific orientation for their brochures.

– A portrait customer needs a specific orientation for a wall display.

Shooting both verticals and horizontals of all my subjects helps me make more sales and reduces the amount of work I have to do in post-processing.

So, the simple summary is to shoot vertical then shoot horizontal. Vertizonical!

Galapagos beach

Galapagos beach in vertical orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

Galapagos beach

Galapagos beach in horizontal orientation. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8, Gitzo CF tripod.

We are headed to the Galapagos again this year and we’d love to have you along on the adventure. Check out our workshop page for more details at Visual Adventures Workshops.





© 2017 Visual Adventures | Site Policies | Web by Works Development