Greetings folks! Welcome to the May 2005 newsletter from Out There Images. I truly appreciate your business and referrals to friends, family and colleagues. I can honestly say that I have never had this much fun in all my life. I love this job!

We’ve just come off a big series of workshops in Seattle and are preparing for a summer full of workshops in Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Additionally, we are preparing for a new workshop called “Digital Portrait Photography” that should be ready to go for this Fall and Winter (see below for details).

My wife and I are also getting ready to move our office and our family from Vancouver, Washington to Gig Harbor, Washington. It is a move that we are really looking forward to and we are excited to get back to our home town. Note that during this move we will still be leading the very best digital photography workshops and will be conducting business as usual! This move will be exciting (and stressful), but we’re up for it and could really use your thoughts and prayers as we head down this path.

Photo Techniques: Getting That Glimmer in The Eye
We all know that great portrait photographers all over the world work hard to achieve great lighting and a great facial expression. But, what I bet you didn’t know was that all portraitists also work very hard at creating a nice glimmer of light in the eyes of the portrait subject. This little reflection of light is called a catch light.

Pay close attention to all of the high end magazines out there on the news stands and you will see that every single person on the front pages has a little catch light in their eyes. Why is this important? Because without it, your subject looks dull and boring. With a catch light, your subject looks lively and engaged – vibrant even! I always work hard to make sure that my subject has even just a little hint of a catch light in the eye. Here are some easy and simple tips for doing just that. (Note, click here to see the photos:

1. When outdoors, use a subtle fill flash. In my photography workshops, I always teach people to tone down their fill flash so that it is barely perceptible in the final image. A good starting point for your fill flash is to dial down the power to “-1.5” or “-1.7”. Yes, that’s “minus one point five.” If you don’t dial down your flash power, then you’ll most likely end up washing out your subject’s face. Instead of having a glimmer in their eye, they’ll look like they were scared by a ghost! Use “-1.5” as your starting point, then adjust from there. Sometimes you’ll need more like -0.7, but for most occasions, -1.7 does a good job of providing a catch light.

2. When taking pictures indoors, I really like to use natural lighting with reflectors. This is such an easy, low cost way to take beautiful portraits and the technique is super simple. First, find a nice big daylight window. Then place your subject so that one side of their face is towards the window and the other side of their face is in shadow. Next, set up a reflector on the shaded side of the person, but a little in front of them. This way, the reflector helps illuminate the shadows, but also provides a catch light in their eyes. If you look carefully a the photo of the person, you’ll see one little bright catch light in their eyes. You can use anything you want as a reflector – a white sheet, a piece of foam core, a piece of plywood painted white or wrapped in foil. The technique works every time and you didn’t even have to use a flash.

Of course, there are lots of other more expensive ways to get a nice catch light that involve flashes/strobes and more advanced lighting, but the tips above will do nicely until you’re ready to spend more on your photo gear.

Digital Tidbits: Expose to the Right
I’m not talking about your political beliefs here, but I firmly believe you should bias your photographic exposures to the right. What I’m talking about is using your camera’s histogram to better expose for your subject. More specifically, I’d like you to take your exposures so that your histogram is biased towards the right side of the graph.

Your histogram, like many other things on your camera, is a tool available for you to use and judge how you exposed your picture. There is no “good” or “bad” histogram, they just “are”. The histogram is a simple graph that shows brightness information for your picture. Another fancy word for brightness is “luminosity.” You’ll see the word luminosity used in Photoshop and books and other places, so it is something you should add to your digital vocabulary.

Anyways, the histogram on your camera displays the luminosity of the image you just took. If you took a picture of something that was pretty dark, then the histogram will be biased towards the left of the graph. If you took a picture of something bright, then the histogram will be towards the right side of the graph. If you took a picture with something bright and something dark in the scene, then you’ll have two big bumps on your histogram: one on the right and one on the left.

In general, your photos should try to exploit the full range of luminosity from bright to dark and this is the only way you will get a full tonality print. There are some very good technical reasons (which I won’t fully go into here) why you should expose to the right. Basically, the darker your exposure (i.e. histogram to the left), the fewer levels you have to define your image. Also, if you underexpose your shot, it is difficult to repair it in Photoshop without getting lots of noise. (For you techies out there, your signal-to-noise-ratio is low, so amplifying the signal, also dramatically amplifies the noise).

So, the best approach is to expose so that your picture’s histogram is biased to the bright side of the exposure – BUT – without blowing out or overexposing the highlights. If you overexpose the highlights in your picture, for example the clouds or a bride’s dress, then the detail is gone forever and impossible to bring back. So, your balancing act is this: Expose too dark and you get lots of noise when you fix your shot. Expose too bright and you lose all your highlight detail. Expose “to the right”, and things are hunky dory.

This process is a little vague, but if you follow this rule of thumb, you’ll be better off in the long run and your pictures will thank you.

Workshop Updates:
New Workshop: Digital Portrait Photography
Based on input from a number of you folks, we have decided to create a new workshop called Digital Portrait Photography to be available in the Fall/Winter time frame. The workshop will be two days. The first day to learn basic composition and lighting. The second day will cover more advanced composition, lighting as well as Photoshop tools for portrait photographers. Our goal is to start bringing all elements of photography into focus so that you can take great pictures of your clients whether they be paying customers or your grandkids/children. Information will be posted at

Nikonians Workshops
The Seattle workshops with The Nikonians were great fun and a great success. We are looking forward to many more this summer and fall throughout the Western and Eastern USA as well as Canada. Our locations will be in Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Toronto Canada, New York and Boston. Follow this link for the official list of dates and locations: There is also a link on this page for those who want to sign up.

Nikon D70 and D70s Workshops
We continue to sell out these workshops and have added a few more for 2005 during June and August. Now that Nikon has announced their new D70s, we’re going to add a whole new series of D70/D70s workshops for 2006. Updated Schedules are posted here:

Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
These hands-on learning flash photography workshops are a hoot! It is so much fun to create beautiful portraits with this amazing flash system. Sign up now while there are still slots open.

Photoshop Workshops
We’ve added more Photoshop workshops for later this year. Also, we still have a couple slots open for the June workshop in Portland, Oregon. We provide 39 tutorials for the Photoshop Level I workshop and 36 advanced tutorials for the Photoshop Level II workshop. These are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. Also, based on customer feedback, we are working on creating up to two more Photoshop workshops: Photoshop III and Black and White conversions. Details will be posted soon.

> The Art of Travel Workshops
Our Art of Travel workshops focus on travels in the Columbia River Gorge and also in Gig Harbor, Washington. These two day events are targeted towards those of you who want to create artistic images and want to better understand what elements help make great pictures. Both the Columbia Gorge and Gig Harbor offer so any inspiring photographic subjects that it is hard not to come away from these sessions with beautiful photographs. Go here for the updated schedule:

Private Tutoring
Quite a few people have signed up for private instruction. During these sessions, we are able to work specifically on your own photographic needs. Available topics are Digital SLR photography (Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, etc.), Wedding photography, Photoshop, color management, digital workflow, flash photography, portraiture, etc. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (360) 750-1103 or email ([email protected]) if you have questions about this option.

Camera gear for sale
I’m selling off some of the gear that I no longer use. Send me an email ([email protected]) if you are interested or would like to see a picture.
– Tokina 20-35 f/2.8 AT-X lens. Nikon mount. This is a great lens that is in excellent condition. I’ve taken some of my best pictures with it. Price is $295.
– Nikon N90s. I bought this camera new in 1997 and used it up until last year. It’s a great camera and is in good condition. Everything works and I still have the box and manual. Price is $225.

As always, if you have questions or need more information, please send an email or give us a call. We’ll get back to you right away and are always happy to help.

Best regards,

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

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