Greetings folks – I hope you are all doing well and taking lots of photos. This month’s newsletter finds me more excited than ever about teaching workshops and helping others overcome the steep learning curve that digital photography brings with it. We here at Out There Images have been blessed with a growing business and lots of great customers. Thank you all for your repeat business and your commitment to continued learning.

Digital technology has definitely breathed new life into photography and has brought a new enthusiasm. I know that many of you have talked to me over the last month about how excited you are about your photos and more importantly – excited to “Get Out And Learn!” A few weeks ago I was in Arizona leading some workshops in the Phoenix area. I had the great opportunity to meet a bunch of new people who were all extremely enthusiastic about learning their digital cameras and learning how to be better photographers. It was inspiring for me to see classrooms full of people who were willing to put in the hours to fully understand what makes their cameras tick!

Photo Techniques: “Nail That Exposure”

Many people feel like getting good exposures is one of the most difficult aspects of photography to get a firm grasp on. Unfortunately, most make it out to be much more difficult than it really has to be. Fundamentally, we just need to understand that we want our whites to be white, our grays to be grays and our blacks to be black. Once we grasp that concept, then the whole process gets easier from there. The truth is that today’s automated cameras do a pretty good job getting good exposures most of the time. But, if “good enough” isn’t good enough for you, then it is time to take control and get better exposures.

One of the keys to improving on your camera’s built-in metering system is to understand that most cameras try to make all photographs “medium” in tonality (aka brightness). For example, if you take a picture of white snow, your camera tries to make it medium-toned and the end result is that the snow ends up looking gray. Conversly, if you are taking a picture of a black sports car, your camera again tries to make it medium toned and you get a gray sports car.

During my workshops, one of the things I always talk about is a simple little ditty that will help you make your whites look white and your blacks look black. It goes a little something like this: “Add light to light. Add dark to dark.” Sounds kind of simple because it is simple. Here’s how it works in the field.

Let’s say you are taking a picture of that big ol’ glacier over there on Mt. Rainier. Snow is “light” in tone, right? Since you know you want it to be white, you need to “add light to light.” In other words, you have to increase the exposure in the camera in order to make those whites really pop. For snow, I recommend that you use an exposure compensation of +1 to +1.5 stops. Most cameras these days have a little “+/-” button that will allow you to compensate your exposure. Simply dial in +1 or + 1.5 when you are taking a picture of snow, and then your snow will look white.

Use the same, but opposite technique for dark subjects. If you want your black sports car to look black, then dial in an exposure compensation of -1 or -2 (i.e. minus one or minus two) and viola! You’ve got yourself a black car.

Now, what happens if you are shooting a picture of something medium-toned? Well, you’re in luck because your camera is already programmed to make all tones look medium, so you don’t have to do anything. In terms of what the camera sees, grays, medium greens and reds are all medium tones. In other words, a gray coat will give the same exposure as will green grass as will a red flower.

So, there you have it. Exposure made easy. Just add light to light and add dark to dark. Now, head outside and shoot some pictures for yourself – Get Out And Learn!

Digital Tidbits: “Setting Up Your Digital Office”

As we all progress down the path of digital proficiency, we need to become more concerned about how our digital office is set up. In last month’s email, I talked about how to organize your digital files so that you can always find images you’ve shot in the past. This month, I want to talk about how to arrange your work space in a way that helps you create better output.

When I say “output”, I mean either physical prints or web pages or pictures for email. All of these outputs require that you spend at least a little bit of your time in front of your computer to format your images properly. If your digital office area isn’t set up well, then you’ll be compromising your images – and that’s a bad thing.

Ok, with that said, there are a few things you should do with respect to the physical arrangement of your desk and your computer monitor. First of all, please arrange your desk so that it isn’t facing a window. Your goal is to be sure that your computor monitor is free from intense backlighting and reflections. In my case, I really like to look out my window while I’m working away in my office, so for many years, I’ve had my computer monitor directly in front of my office window. For a long time, I didn’t realize that the strong backlighting of the window was adversly impacting my ability to accurately work on my images in Photoshop. I couldn’t see fine details or color gradients because my eyes were adjusted for the bright sun, and not for the computer monitor. Since then, I’ve “seen the light” and have moved my office around so that my monitor is away from the window (Note: go to our website to see pictures of these two arrangments ).

While you are moving your desk, be sure that there are no bright lights behind your monintor that will reflect off your screen. Reflections can also wreak havoc on your ability to accurately assess colors.

Here are some more tips to help configure your workspace:
1. Choose a gray background for your monitor. Gray fires all screen pixels (i.e. RGB) in equal amounts and therefore helps to ensure your colors are accurate.
2. Regardless if you are using a Mac or a PC, choose a gray windows theme design (found under the “Appearance” tab of the “Display Properties” control window). This will also ensure that all the screen pixels fire at the same rate.
3. Make sure your monitor is on for at least 30 minutes before doing serious Photoshop work. You’ll get much better color rendition and tonal response if your monitor is nice and warm.

Workshop Updates
Nikon D70 Workshops
Demand continues to be high for our Nikon D70 Level I and Advanced workshops. Here are the future dates and locations are posted here:

Nikonians Workshops
We have signed on with a great group of photographers called the Nikonians to teach workshops throughout the Western USA. The Nikonians is a group of over 28,000 dedicated Nikon shooters who gather at We’ll be leading D70 Level I, Advanced D70 and iTTL workshops in Seattle, Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Workshops will be held in May, June, July and August. Details are posted here:

Aviation Photography Workshops
Pearson Air Museum and Out There Images have teamed up to present a series of digital photography workshops with an aviation theme. The workshops will be held at Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver, Washington on 5/22/05 and 9/17/05. We’ll have more information posted on our website very soon at

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
Learn how to use your SB600 and SB800 flashes in this one-day workshop. We’ll cover all kinds of lighting conditions and put these amazing flashes to the test. This is a very hands-on workshop. Bring your camera and your flash and get ready to learn. Our Seattle workshops are filling up fast.

Digital SLR Workshops
Many of our customers have also purchased Canon Digital Rebels, Canon 10D/20D and Nikon D100/D2H/D2X cameras. A great fit for people who own these cameras are the “Digital SLR Outdoor Photography” ( workshops and the “Art of Travel Photography” ( workshops.

Photoshop Level I & II
Most of the computer questions I get at our workshops revolve around how to better use Photoshop. So, we’ve created a series of Photoshop workshops aimed at taking you from beginner to savvy within two days. You can take just one class or take them both for a discounted price. Check out details here:

As always, if you have any questions about things photo related, feel free to drop me an email or call at any time. I’ll get back to you right away.

Also, if you would like to be removed from this mailing list, please send us an email with the word “remove” in the subject line. I’ll be sorry to see you go, but I’ll take your name off the list immediately.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Out There Images – “Get Out And Learn!”
[email protected]

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