Nikon Capture NX-D Official Version

Posted July 15th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink


Today, Nikon officially released the full version of Nikon Capture NX-D 1.0.0. This release marks the end of support for Nikon Capture NX 2 and ushers in a new chapter for Nikon software. As I mentioned in previous posts and video blogs, the new NX-D software is a far cry from the previous Capture NX 2 software since Nikon chose not to include many of the higher-end editing tools. It is unfortunate that tools like color control points, HSL adjustments, and selection brushes won’t be included in NX-D.

NX-D is a basic RAW converter and I have loaded the program on my computer. At this point, my main use for NX-D will be processing image files from brand new Nikon cameras before other software packages (i.e. Lightroom) have the capability. There’s almost always a month or two delay from when a camera is released until 3rd party software companies are able to process the camera’s RAW files, so NX-D will fill that time gap. I don’t see using NX-D for any significant image processing in my overall workflow.

Download Full Version of Capture NX-D here: Nikon Capture NX-D


Blue Moon – Dawn Over Early Winter Spires

Posted June 12th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software, Travel  |  Permalink
Liberty Bell

Moon at dawn over the Early Winters Spires in Washington State’s North Cascades mountains.

One of my favorite places to photograph is in Washington State’s North Cascades mountain range. Just off of Highway 20 is a great viewpoint of the Early Winter Spires. Since this area is just on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range, you’re often greeted with beautiful blue skies and great weather. This specific morning, we got up well before the crack of dawn and made a short hike up to the viewpoint. We knew that the moon would be out and would provide a great compositional element for our photographs. The stars were shining bright in the morning twilight and in this photo you can see the Orion constellation directly over the Early Winter Spires. The previous day’s snowfall provided a light dusting of white over the peaks, providing beautiful contrast for this pre-dawn photograph.

As with most photographs, the image isn’t finished until you work with it in post-processing. In this case, I used Adobe Lightroom 5 to increase the contrast and tone down the left side of the image where the sky had become a bit too bright. I took this shot in 2011 using a Nikon D700 and exposed for 8 seconds at f/11 at ISO 1000.

May 2014 Newsletter is Posted

Posted May 23rd, 2014 by   |  Computers, Flash Photography, Photography, Software, Travel, Workshops  |  Permalink


Check out our May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter for great articles on photo technique as well as updates on our trips.

In this Newsletter:
– Greetings
– Stuff I Like This Month
– May GOAL Assignment: Shoot at High ISO
– Photo Techniques: Three Steps to a Beautiful White Background
– Digital Tidbits: Analog Efex Pro 2
– Photo Techniques: Telling a Simple Story Through Photos
– Workshop and Business Updates

Link: May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter

34th Anniversary of Mount St. Helens Eruption

Posted May 19th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink
BW St Helens

Mount St. Helens panorama in Black and White.

34 years ago Mount St. Helens blew its top and forever changed the landscape of Washington State. I remember the day very well even though I was pretty young at the time. I was living in Renton, Washington, about 100 miles away from the mountain, and remember seeing a dusting of gray ash covering all the leaves and cars. Watching the news that day, it became apparent that the mountain’s eruption was far greater than I could have imagined. Communities that were near the mountain were coping with multiple feet of ash. Those nearby the Toutle River were frantically trying to save themselves from the giant mud flow that surged towards them. These volcanic mud flows, known as lahars, contained trees, boulders and super-heated ash that conspired to decimate everything in its way.

These days, the destruction of Mount St. Helen’s eruption is still evident, but nature’s resiliency is on display in a grand way. Everywhere you look are signs of vibrant life with elk, trees, flowers, and birds on display throughout the monument. I love photographing anywhere in the monument and go back just about every year to see what’s new. Last summer I spent a day hiking and exploring with my camera and created a time-lapse of clouds flowing over the austere landscape (below). I photographed the scene with my Nikon D800, using the intervalometer from the menu system. I set up the timing to take an image every 5 seconds. Using Adobe Premiere Pro CC, I put together the images in a sequence and played them back at 30 frames per second.



If you are looking for a great place to spend a day of photography, you can’t go wrong with Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Bring along a pair of hiking boots to explore the trails around Johnston Ridge Observatory. For photo gear, I recommend bringing a super-wide angle lens for the grand landscapes as well as a medium telephoto lens to capture details of the crater. If possible, try to go on a partly cloudy day and shoot a time lapse of clouds flowing around the mountain like the video above.


There are many public areas at the Johnston Ridge Observatory such as this outdoor amphitheater. Your visit to Mt. St. Helens is sure to be very educational.

About a Baobab

Posted May 9th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software, Wildlife, Workshops  |  Permalink

The giant baobab tree in Tanzania is a sight to behold. This elephant is stripping the bark to get at the trunk’s huge reserve of water. Nikon D800, Nikon 200-400mm f/4. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

The baobab tree is an amazing sight to behold. In Tanzania, these massive trees grow primarily in Tarangire National Park and are known for their funny upside-down shape. According to the legend of Bushmen, the baobab tree offended God, so he plucked it out of the ground and planted it back upside down, leaving the roots exposed to the sky.

Baobabs are succulents and store massive amounts of water in the trunk (sometimes up to 26,000 US gallons) in order to endure harsh drought conditions. Their massive swollen trunks consist of soft spongy wood, saturated with water. They hold so much water in fact, that they’ve been known to survive for ten years with no rain. Interestingly, the diameter of their trunks changes throughout the year in relation to how much rain falls or how long the dry season lasts.

Elephants love the bark of the trees and you’ll often see them tearing off long strips of bark to chew on. This behavior is especially evident during the dry season as elephants work to obtain moisture from the trunk’s water reserves. Most baobab trees in Tarangire National Park bear deep gouge marks and even giant holes through the trunk from the abuse they take from elephants.

One thing you can’t miss is how large these trees are. The photograph here shows a young elephant using its tusks to tear away some bark. This elephant is probably seven or eight feet high, so you can see that the tree trunk is close to 30 feet in diameter.

Baobabs take hundreds of years to reach their large dimensions and some are known to be many thousands of years old. In fact, one of the largest baobabs in Africa has been dated to be more than 6,000 years old. Most baobabs don’t look fully “baobab-ish” until they are at least 600 years old. When they become a thousand years old, many trees begin to hollow inside, providing refuge for animals and people as they travel the African wilds.

Tarangire National Park hosts one of the world’s greatest populations of African elephants, with more than 5,000 roaming the park. It is said to have more elephants per square mile than anywhere else in the world. This park is the perfect place to photograph the world’s largest land animal next to one of the largest tree species on earth.

For this image, I used the Nikon D800 coupled with the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4. For support, I rested the camera on a Gura Gear Anansi bean bag. As always, I used the Peak Design leash system to keep from dropping the rig from the Landcruiser.

Small Camera – Big Panoramas

Posted April 22nd, 2014 by   |  Computers, Photography, Software  |  Permalink
Bellingham Marina panorama

Bellingham Marina panorama. Image created by merging a 5-shot sequence in Photoshop from a Canon S110 camera.

Last week I took a short trip to Bellingham, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia armed with with only a small point and shoot camera. The purpose of the trip was mountain biking and cycling, so I wanted to travel light but still be able to create some nice images. My camera muse for the weekend was the Canon S110 (now the S120) pocket camera that is capable of shooting RAW files. I’ve owned this camera for about two years now and am generally happy with it for simple shooting tasks like birthday parties, selfies at restaurants, or quick grab shots while on a walk.

Canon S110

The Canon S110 (or the newer S120) make a great travel companion when you have to travel light, but still want RAW files.

As fun as this camera is to use however, the image quality just doesn’t compare to my larger DSLR cameras. That’s ok though, because I love the tiny size compared to my larger dSLR cameras, and mountain biking with a full-sized professional dSLR & 24-70mm f/2.8 can be difficult at best. I frequently take my big dSLR cameras on big adventures, but on trips like these you have to decide what’s more important: creating images for your portfolio or having fun doing the actual adventure. For last week’s trip, I was riding along with my son, so the priority was on having fun cycling and touring together.

cargo ships

Ships in Burrard Inlet, British Columbia. Image created in Photoshop CC from 5 shots captured with the Canon S110. Converted to Black and White with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Since I know the Canon S110 won’t produce images on par with my larger dSLR cameras, I tend to use the camera in different ways. For example, rather than trying to create single shots of action or street scenes, I find I get the most satisfaction by creating panoramas, black and white images or creative closeups/macros. In other words, I shy away from the single shot and plan for a bit more work after the fact in the digital dark room.

Coal Harbor

Panorama of Coal Harbor Marina, Vancouver BC. Image created by merging 4 shots from the Canon S110 in Photoshop CC.

Traveling with a small camera is great fun and can be quite liberating. In this case, I used my Peak Design Capture Clip system to hold the camera on my backpack strap. It was always ready to shoot and because it was so small, it never got in the way. I encourage all of you to leave the big dSLR camera at home for a day and shoot with a tiny point and shoot.

Interview with Jason Odell About Status of Nikon Capture NX2

Posted March 28th, 2014 by   |  Software  |  Permalink

As many of you know, Nikon is eliminating their image editing program Nikon Capture NX2 and is replacing it with a new software package called Capture NX-D. They recently announced that they will cease supporting NX2 at some point during the summer of 2014.

If you are a NX2 user, then what how should you manage the photos you’ve created when support for the software ends? What software should you use moving forward?

Watch our interview to hear what Jason Odell (Luminescent Photo) and I have to say about this situation during his Podcast titled The Sensor Plane Photography Podcast: Episode 7.


Quoting from Jason’s website:

“In this episode of The Sensor Plane, I sat down with Mike Hagen, a professional photographer from Washington state, USA. Mike and I have both published books on Nikon’s Capture NX2, and were avid Capture NX2 users. We discussed the current state of Nikon NEF processing in light of the recent announcement that Nikon was dropping support for Capture NX2 and releasing a new product, Capture NX-D.

Mike and I discussed some options for current Capture NX2 users looking to move forward as Nikon transitions to the new Capture NX-D software.”

NX2 box

Nikon Capture NX-D

Posted February 24th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink


Nikon just announced a new piece of software called Nikon Capture NX-D. This is a free software application that will replace Nikon Capture NX 2. The D comes from the word Development and relates to developing the parameters of the RAW file. The software is currently in beta and their official release is scheduled for summer, 2014.

According to their website, Nikon says, “We will continue to update and provide support for the current Capture NX 2 application while the beta version of Capture NX-D is available. However, once the official version of Capture NX-D is released, we will no longer support Capture NX 2 with updates.”

Having written a book on Capture NX 2 and having run hundreds of Nikon Capture NX workshops, I immediately dove into the program tonight.

NX-D User interface

The user interface for Nikon Capture NX-D looks a very technical. Time will tell if it is easy to use.

Some things that I find very interesting about the program:

1. Image adjustments are not stored with the original file. Rather, they are stored in a file in the same folder as the original image. Therefore, if you move a photo to a new folder, the image adjustments do not move with it. This is odd and I will need to spend some more time understanding how to move adjustments with the image files. Capture NX 2 stored the adjustments inside the original file, so this is a big departure for Nikon and somewhat mimics the Adobe approach with XMP files.

2. The NX-D software has carried over almost all the global RAW processing capabilities from Nikon Capture NX 2 including the obvious things such as white balance, exposure, curves. They also carried over tools like the LCH editor, Active D-Lighting, Highlight Protection, and lens profile controls.

3. In a shocking move, Nikon Capture NX-D has no local or pixel adjustment capabilities. Nikon chose not to include color control points, lasso tools, adjustment brushes, clone stamp or any of the other regional adjustment capabilities that worked so well in NX 2. This is a major disappointment, since these tools were fantastic in Nikon Capture NX 2. I don’t know what to say, other than “why????”

4. The look and feel of the program has changed dramatically, with the user interface looking like a very detailed engineering program. Some people will like the look of it, while others will be completely turned off by the design. My initial stab at using the program left me somewhat perplexed with the layout and the adjustments. Time will tell if the software’s user interface makes sense or is a confusing mess.

5. With all the other powerful RAW processing software on the market today, I think Nikon has realized that they aren’t going to compete with the likes of Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture or Phase One Capture One Pro. Therefore, I think Nikon has decided to create a minimalist software program to do quick global edits on their images. They did include a button on the top menu bar titled “Open With…” that allows you to send the image to other software like Photoshop for the detailed regional, local and pixel level editing.

I’ll write more about the program when I know more. Until then, here are the links to download the program, the PDF, and read their new website.

Download the beta software here:

Nikon Capture NX-D Beta

41 page PDF Manual available here:

Nikon Capture NX-D PDF Manual

Nikon Press Release here:

Nikon Capture NX-D Information Site

How Do Nikon Picture Controls Affect RAW and JPG Files?

Posted February 15th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

Ever wonder how Nikon Picture Controls affect RAW files or JPG files? Watch this video to find out:


Nikon Capture NX 2.4.6

Posted February 4th, 2014 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink

NX2 box

Nikon just released an update for their editing software Capture NX2 ($139 at Amazon). This update provides support for the Nikon D3300 and also improves the white balance adjustments in the program for cameras newer than the D7000.

Nikon USA
Nikon Europe

Updates that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions:

– Support for RAW images captured with the D3300 has been added.
– Advanced settings, such as Sharpening, under Camera Settings > Picture Control in the Develop section of the Edit List palette can now be adjusted, even when Unchanged is selected for Picture Control when RAW images are opened.
– The following modifications and additions have been applied to White Balance > New WB in the Camera Settings portion of the Develop section in the Edit List palette.
– An Auto 1 option has been added to White Balance > New WB options. Capture NX 2 adjusts white balance for colors similar to those achieved in images captured with a camera’s Auto 1 (Normal) * white balance setting.
However, only RAW images captured with the following cameras are supported.

– The D7000 and later digital SLR cameras
– Advanced cameras with interchangeable lenses
– The COOLPIX A as well as the COOLPIX P7100 and later COOLPIX cameras that support recording in the NRW format
*Auto white balance setting with cameras that do not offer an Auto 2 (Keep warm lighting colors) option
– Adjustment units available with the Tint option have been changed from 1 to 0.01 for more precise specification.
– The adjustment range for Fine Adjustment when Direct sunlight is selected for Daylight has been expanded from 4132–7042k to 2500–7042k.
– Adjustment using Fine Adjustment and Tint is now possible when Recorded Value, Auto 1, Auto 2, or Underwater is selected.

The following issues have been resolved:

Windows version only
An error occurred when XMP/IPTC files created with Capture NX 2.4.3 or earlier were opened:
Details specified in the Print layout dialog and page setup dialog displayed with selection of Page Setup… in the File menu were not applied.

Macintosh version only
When image files saved to a disk formatted using the FAT32 architecture were edited and saved, editing details were not applied.
Support for Mac OS X version 10.6 has been eliminated

Updates included with 2.4.5

Updates that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
Support for RAW images captured with the D5300 and the Df has been added.
The Better Quality 2012 option under Noise Reduction in the Camera Settings portion of the Develop section in the Edit List palette has been changed to Better Quality 2013.
Applicable from this version, Intensity and Sharpness can now be adjusted separately for both Luminance and Color. Therefore, when images to which Better Quality 2012 was applied with Capture NX 2 Ver. 2.4.4 or earlier are opened in Capture NX 2 Ver. 2.4.5, the effects of Noise Reduction adjustment may change.
Updates that apply to Macintosh versions:
Support with Macintosh OS 10.9, “Mavericks”, has been confirmed.

Updates enabled with 2.4.4

Updates that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
Support for RAW images captured with the D610, Nikon 1 AW1, and COOLPIX P7800 has been added.
An Automatic (Underwater) option has been added to the Auto Distortion pull-down menu under Camera & Lens Corrections in the Adjust section of the Edit List. However, the Automatic (Underwater) option is only displayed when all of the following conditions are met:
The image was captured with an advanced camera with interchangeable lenses that supports underwater automatic distortion control, and a lens that also supports the function.
The image was captured in RAW format or in JPEG format with the camera’s Auto distortion control function disabled.
The following issues have been resolved with this release:
When the slider bar was manipulated while applying settings such as Gaussian Blur, High Pass, or Colorize, flicker in the form of random blocks was sometimes displayed.
For Windows only:
When OK in the Page Setup dialog opened from the Print layout dialog was clicked after changing printers using the Print button in the Print layout dialog, only the default printer (that is normally used) was named in the Printer section at top left in the Print layout dialog.
“aaa…” was displayed for Artist in the File & Camera Information section of the Metadata palette. (language versions other than the English version)
When an image was edited using the LCH tool in the Adjust section of the Edit List, a message prompting the user to restart the application was sometimes displayed.

Modifications enabled with 2.4.3

Modifications that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
Information for lenses used with the Auto Distortion function under Camera & Lens Corrections in the Develop section has been updated.

Modifications enabled with previous release 2.4.2

Modifications that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions
An issue has been corrected where a bright, whitish diagonal line is shown in images from D600 (C firmware version 1.01) when DX Crop mode and Active D-Lighting were used.

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