Lightroom Classic CC Speed Improvements?

Posted February 16th, 2018 by   |  Computers, Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC version 7.2

Adobe is listening to their user base about the speed issues in Lightroom and that’s a very good thing. This week, Adobe released a new version of Lightroom Classic CC called version 7.2. During my testing over the last few days, I’ve experienced significant speed improvements in three areas:

1. Panorama merges

2. HDR merges

3. Exporting images

I’m seeing dramatically faster initial previews and somewhat faster final merge times for panoramas and HDR merges. For image exports, I’m seeing a small improvement in speed.

I’m not seeing any speed improvement during other operations such as opening the program, generating previews after import, or developing/processing. However, Adobe has made it clear, through their press releases and interviews, that they are continuing to work on Lightroom speed and we should expect to see enhancements as time goes on.

New lightroom release

Here are the areas Adobe has worked on for this new version of Lightroom Classic CC

To test the claimed speed improvements, I went back to some panorama images I shot last year in Iceland. Each of these pano merges were shot with with anywhere from 5 to 10 images from a Nikon 36MP camera. The initial panorama merge previews only took 20 to 30 seconds, where they would sometimes take multiple minutes in previous versions of the software.

Lightroom’s overall speed is still an issue, but at this point, Lightroom remains as my go-to program for image organization and image development. The fact that Adobe remains committed to improving speed and efficiency in Lightroom is a very good thing since I know there are lots of other software companies nipping at the heels of Adobe … and they are all bringing their A-game.

panorama merges

Here are six panorama merges I produced with the new Lightroom Classic CC 7.2 version

Version 7.2 also sports a few new software features aimed at organizational improvements. These are relatively small overall workflow improvements, but they will make my time in Lightroom even more efficient. They are:

1. The ability to make quick collections from folders. This improvement allows me to view the entire contents of a folder in the other modules. For example, if I’m making a book, then I can quickly make a folder a collection, and work on that in the book module. Before, I’d have to select all the images in a folder, then make a separate collection. Not a big deal, but the new method is more efficient.

2. The ability to search for folders by name using the new Nested Folder Search bar. This search bar exists over the top of the “Folders” section in Lightroom and allows me to quickly find images by searching for folder names. Cool.

3. New filter search for Edited or Unedited images. This provides one more logical way to find images based on whether or not they have any edited features (tone, contrast, brushes, etc.).

Headed Back to The Woodlands

Posted January 31st, 2018 by   |  Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

TWCC Photo Walk

I have a really great relationship with a vibrant community of photographers in The Woodlands, Texas. For quite a few years, I’ve been running classes and workshops with The Woodlands Camera Club (TWCC) and for some reason, they keep asking me back! They have a membership of a couple hundred photographers and their monthly meetings are packed. In between club meetings, they regularly meet in smaller special interest groups called SIGs to teach each other and improve skills. TWCC is truly inspirational – so much so that I think other camera clubs around the world could learn a lot from TWCC. To a person, they are good-natured, positive, and encouraging. They are exactly the type of people you want to hang out with.

You’re Invited to TWCC Workshops This May

My partner in crime, Rick Hulbert, and I are headed back to TWCC from May 7-11, 2018 to run a week-long series of workshops. You don’t have to be a TWCC member to attend. In fact, the last time we ran workshops with TWCC we had quite a few people attend from all around the USA. We’d love to have you there and all levels of photographers are welcome.

Mike and Rick

I promise you that these workshops will be great. Rick and I have taught hundreds and hundreds of workshops over the years and we are both intimately involved in the photo world. We love art, we love technology, but most important, we love teaching and mentoring in the craft of photography.

Event Summary

Here’s a link to the workshop information page for more details –> The Woodlands Workshops 2018.


May 7-11, 2018.


Aldersgate Hall
The Woodlands United Methodist Church
2200 Lake Woodlands Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77380


Monday, May 7, 2018

Keynote presentation with The Woodlands Camera Club
All are welcome
7:00 PM – 8:45 PM

Rick Hulbert – Photographing the Great Indoors vs. the Great Outdoors … From the Texas State Capitol Building to Antarctica

Mike Hagen – Proven Techniques for Wildlife Photography. Methods and Gear to Create Stunning Photos of Animals.

Tuesday May 8, 2018

Photo Lecture Series Day 1
Morning: Candid Photography in Urban Settings
Afternoon: Beautiful One Flash Portraiture and Lightroom CC Retouching
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Tuesday May 8, 2018

Photo Walk: The Woodlands Waterway
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
FREE. Everyone welcome. Please RSVP.

Wednesday May 9, 2018

Photo Lecture Series Day 2
Morning: Create Powerful Multi-Media Presentations with Your Images
Afternoon: Photographing Heritage Structures
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Thursday & Friday, May 10-11, 2018

Workshop Track 1 – Architectural Photography that Sings
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM both days

Workshop Track 2 – The Art of Travel Photography
9:00 AM – 4:30 PM both days


As always, feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. I’m always happy to help.

Art Travel

Join Me This Week for 3 Free Live Broadcasts

Posted December 12th, 2017 by   |  Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

Hi everyone –

Just a quick heads-up that I have three live broadcasts this week and they are all free to watch! I always work to make my content meaningful and actionable, so make sure you tune in for some great tips.

Since these are all live, feel free to send in questions and comments during the broadcasts. I’ll do everything I can to answer your questions during each of the shows.

Free webinars

Broadcast 1

When – Wednesday, 12/13/17, 11:00 AM PST
Who – RockyNook
Topic – DIY Lighting Projects
Link –
Note – This broadcast includes projects from our new book, The Enthusiast’s Guide to DIY Photography

Broadcast 2

When – Wednesday, 12/13/17, 1:00 PM PST
Who – Photobacks TV
Topic – How and Why to Create Your Own Presets in Lightroom
Link –
Note – I’ve recently started working with Photobacks TV to provide photography education. This is our second live show and we have many more planned throughout next year.

Broadcast 3

When – Thursday, 12/14/17, 10:00 AM PST
Who – CreativeLive
Topic – Giving the Gift of Print
Link –
Note – This Facebook Live event is a follow-up to our printing classes from PhotoWeek 2017. There were a lot of questions around printing issues that I couldn’t get to in the studio classes, so chime in during this week’s live event with your printing questions.

Spider Holster Ambassador

Posted November 21st, 2017 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

Spider Holster Gear


I’d like to point you to a piece of gear that makes my photography easier. About six months ago I started using a new strap and holster system for working in the studio made by Spider Holster. In fact, I like their equipment so much that I’ve decided to join the Spider Ambassador team.

The Spider Holster system is a camera holster that uses a mounting plate on the camera that clips into a specially designed hip belt. It is an excellent ergonomic solution that puts all the weight of your camera comfortably on your hips. For my purposes, I use the Spider system in the studio for photographing models, shooting still life (products), or teaching live photography workshops.


The system is made out of stainless steel and hardened aluminum. The holster has a two-position lock that is exceptionally secure. I’ve never had it fail and I move around a lot in the studio! My previous life was working as a mechanical engineer, so I always appreciate the skill required to design and produce a top quality product.


Top 5 Reasons

Here are my top five reasons why I use and recommend the Spider Holster:

1. Works great in studio. It flows with my movement and allows me to stand on step stools or crouch down low to the ground. The fact that the Spider Holster holds the camera low on the hip means that it is totally out of the way.

2. Allows me to keep my hands free to work with the model and the props and the lighting equipment.

3. Rock solid. I have complete trust in the gear and don’t have to use any mental energy fumbling around with the attachment system.

4. Interfaces easily with my tethering equipment. I use Tether Tools gear in my own studio work and when I do live classes with CreativeLive.

5. The Spider Holster works with my standard Arca Swiss plates so I can quickly switch between hand-held and tripod photography.

Since I’m an ambassador, they gave me a discount code to pass onto my readers. Simply use this code when ordering to receive 20% off any purchases from their website – .

Discount Code – HAGEN20

Here’s the gear I personally recommend

SpiderPro Single Camera System


TheSpiderPro single camera system.

SpiderPro Dual Camera System


The SpiderPro Dual camera system.

Spider Pro Large Lens Pouch


Spider Holster Large Lens Pouch.

Ambassador Information


Check out more ambassador information at these links:

Spider Ambassadors

Mike’s Ambassador Page

Other Spider Holster shooters I recommend:

David McKay
Sue Bryce
Lindsay Adler
Jared Platt

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:

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 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.


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


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.


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 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


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.


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.


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


– 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.


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


Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Nikon Mount

Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2 Canon Mount


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.



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

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