Greetings everyone. At long last, the Nikon iTTL Flash eBook is finished and ready for delivery the week of July 10th. We�ll begin taking orders right away and will start shipping once the CDs have been burned, labeled and packaged.
I have ordering information posted here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html. The price is set at $29.99 plus shipping. The eBook will be packaged on a CD-ROM and will only be available via regular mail. We don�t have a file download system set up from our web server, so you�ll have to live with the old-fashioned snail mail method.
June was another great month for workshops and we have a few more in July with the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle WA. We are also looking forward to the rest of this summer, especially the Art of Travel Workshop September 21-24 and our two-day Portrait Photography workshop in September 15th-16th.
This month�s newsletter covers two topics: photographing from airliners and storing your digital images. I hope you�ll be able to put these tips to good use!
Photo Techniques: Photographing From Airliners
Over the last few months I�ve done quite a bit of traveling around the country and have enjoyed the view from my airline window seat. I�m always on the lookout for great photos no matter where I�m at, so I�m pretty diligent about keeping my cameras out whenever I travel. I thought I�d take some time to discuss photographing from an airliner.
Taking pics from an airplane is always a lot of fun and I have some great shots in my files taken from Boeing�s finest. Here are some of the things I think about when flying that help maximize my photo potential.
Seat Position: When I�m booking my ticket, I always try to get a window seat that is in front of the main wing. I have a couple of reasons for this. The first is that I have an unobstructed view of the terrain below. Secondly, I don�t have to photograph through the exhaust from the engine like I would if I was behind the wing. You�d be surprised how blurry your photographs come out when photographing through exhaust.
Side of the Airplane: The next thing I try to do when booking my ticket is to figure out what side of the plane I want to sit on. Primarily, I want to be on the side of the plane where the sun won�t be shining. This is so the sun will be �behind� me when I�m taking photos out the window. If I have chosen the sunny side of the plane, then I frequently get obvious reflections off of the windows from things inside the cabin. Picking the correct side of the plane takes some planning because you have to figure out what time the plane is taking off, where the sun will be at that time of day and finally, what direction the plane will be flying. If I made a mistake and picked the sunny side of the plane, then I just live with it and try to take great photos anyways.
Wear Dark Shirts: Dark shirts reflect less light that white shirts and therefore don�t cause reflections in the windows when you are taking photographs. Also, if something in the cabin is causing a reflection in the window, then you can use your shoulder to block the reflection and still get a usable shot.
Time of Day: Invariably, your images will look best when they are taken just after sunrise or right before sunset. At these times, the sun is low in the horizon and creates dramatic shadows on the landscape. Shooting when the sun is higher in the sky typically leads to hazy, low contrast images unless you are photographing in Northern latitudes where there isn�t much atmospheric haze. You can�t always choose when your flight leaves, but knowing that the best photos happen in the morning and evening can help you bias your flight times.
Lens Choice: I have found that a zoom lens that has a range of 24mm on the wide angle side to 80-100mm on the telephoto side is a great choice for airplane photography. The 24mm gives me decent coverage for landscape shots, but isn�t so wide that I get the window of the airplane or the wing into the photograph. The 80-100mm range allows for some interesting detail shots such as mountains and rivers.
ISO: I tend to keep my ISO around 100 or 200 for most of my shots. If we are closer to the ground, then I will sometimes increase my ISO to 400 to allow for faster shutter speeds. This helps prevent motion blur.
Aperture: Since you are taking most of your images from very high in the air and don�t really have to think about depth of field, your aperture choice is much less important. I take a most of my aerial images between f2.8 and f5.6.
Shutter Speed: When you are low to the ground, it is very important to have high shutter speeds. For example, even a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. will result in landscape blur when you are below 1,000 ft. For these situations, try to use a speed of at least 1/500 to 1/1000 sec. I will also pan my camera with the landscape when I am down low to further prevent motion blur. When you are above 10,000 ft., shutter speed is less of a factor, so I will shoot with speeds as low as 1/30 second if necessary. Most important here is that I can steadily hand-hold the camera. If it is bumpy from turbulence, then I will increase my shutter speeds accordingly.
Autofocus: I turn my autofocus off when I�m up in the air and just manually set the focus for infinity. The reason for this is that sometimes the autofocus system has a difficult time resolving landscape features from 30,000 feet and will hunt back and forth.
Window Cleaning: A clean window is important to getting good shots. Unfortunately, airline windows can be very messy due to all the people that press their faces up against them. To get around this, I always carry some type of cotton cloth in my pocket so I can wipe down the window before we take off. Also, if pay close attention, you�ll see that most airplanes actually have three �windows� between you and the outside. Sometimes all three are dirty and I just have to live with it. Shooting at an aperture of f4 or larger will also help eliminate some of the window grime from showing up in your photographs.
Contrast: A lot of images will come back with low contrast because of atmospheric haze. There are a couple ways to remedy this. The first is to use a polarizer, which will help bump up contrast. Be careful though, because the polarizer can also make the sky turn completely black. The second way to increase contrast is through post-processing. I frequently have to bring my photographs into Photoshop and use a standard s-curve to punch up the contrast.
Think Black and White: Sometimes, it is hard to come up with a color image that looks good due to the low contrast and muted hues. When this happens, I try a black and white conversion to see what it will look like.
As with most things in photography, you�ll get better photographic results by putting some effort into planning and preparation ahead of time. Using some of the tips above will also help get better results.
Digital Tidbits: Archiving and Backup Strategies for Digital Storage
In this digital age, it has become more and more difficult to manage our digital images and files. It doesn�t take long to accumulate tens of thousands of images to store, catalog, file, backup and archive. I converted to 100% digital photography in late 1994, and in that time I�ve amassed over 25,000 digital files, which represents hundreds of gigabytes of data storage. Lots of people I talk to have hundreds of thousands of images representing terabytes of data! Let�s talk about storing all those digital files in a way that is fast, safe and efficient.
In the early days of my digital photography life, I didn�t really appreciate the complexity that would come along with storing and saving digital images. Like most people, I kept my original digital images on my desktop computer�s primary hard disk and then simultaneously kept backup CD-ROMs of all my images. It didn�t take long until my computer disk drive was completely full and I had a closet full of CD-ROMs.
Since I make my living from my photos, I quickly realized that I had to come up with a better system to physically store my most important assets. So, I changed my ways and now I currently utilize three external hard drives to store, back-up and double back-up my files. Recognize however that technology is continuously changing and my system changes from year to year. This system serves me well for now, but I�ll probably change to the latest and greatest as I find better methods.
Here is an outline of my current system (see the diagram to the left):
Drive 1: This is always connected to my computer and is my working drive. I keep all my image files on this drive as well as all my business records. As I need to access images, I pull them up from Drive 1, bring them into Photoshop or Nikon Capture and then save them back to Drive 1. This drive is generally spooled up and connected to my computer. It is important that Drive 1 have very quick read/write times because I am working from it so frequently. I recommend that your primary drive come equipped with USB 2.0 or Firewire. Additionally, do a little bit of research to determine if it has a fast disk rotation speed (RPM) and a fast data access speed.
Drive 2: This drive is a clone of Drive 1. I copy all the new contents from Drive 1 over to Drive 2 once per day. The only time this drive is hooked up to my computer is when I�m copying new files from Drive 1. The rest of the time, Drive 2 is spooled down and unplugged to prevent drive failure or power spikes from damaging it. If Drive 1 fails, then I�ve only lost about 24 hours worth of data. Additionally, since it is not connected to the computer, it is much harder for viruses to infect this drive.
Drive 3: This drive is also a clone of Drive 1; however I don�t store it in my office. Rather, I keep this drive off-site and copy all the contents from Drive 1 about once per week (actually, I probably do it more like every two or three weeks because I�m lazy, er � busy!). I keep this drive off-site because that helps me prevent a catastrophe should something bad happen to my office like a burglary or fire.
I expect my drives to fail, so that is why I back-up so frequently. Since I am fairly diligent with my backups and off-site storage, I can remain in business even if my house burns down. If this horrible event should happen, then I can literally be in business the next day by just grabbing Drive 3 that�s stored off-site. At most, I�ve only lost one week�s worth of work (and my house).
I don�t recommend storing any of your images on your desktop or laptop computer�s primary hard drive. The reason for this is that you should use your primary drive for software and system operation. If you let your primary hard drive fill up with images, you�ll soon find that your computer will slow down and will also crash much more frequently. If you don�t want to mess with external hard drives, then get yourself a tower computer box and install extra hard drives right inside the computer box. In this scenario, your primary drive has your software (Photoshop, Operating system, etc.), Internal Drive 1 has your images and Internal Drive 2 is a copy of Drive 1. I would still recommend having a third drive stored off-site.
Some day, probably sooner rather than later, there will be new media storage solutions that will supersede the external HD systems I�m currently using. When that happens, I will migrate my files over to the new media and will relegate my old drives to the scrap bin. I plan for this and know that my existing storage solutions are only temporary.
Here are some common questions I receive from folks about backup and storage:
Q: Which hard drive manufacturer to you recommend?
A: I have found Seagate and Western Digital drives to be most reliable. I recommend buying 250 GB drives to start off with and then buying larger drives once the smaller ones fill up. I buy my drives from computer supply stores like Fry�s and Office Depot.
Q: Should I use CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs for backups?
A: I don�t like to use CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs just because they take too much space in my office. Additionally, they are another thing I have to organize, catalog and file. I much prefer to keep my files on hard drives.
Q: What about Gold archival CD-ROMs?
A: The archival CD-ROMs will provide additional longevity for your files. However, I don�t expect the CD-ROM to be a viable storage solution for the next millennium. Probably, sometime in the next 5-10 years the CD-ROM will fade away and the next storage solution will be available.
Q: Do you recommend online storage solutions?
A: There are a few good online storage locations where you can upload your images and their servers will store them for you. I really like www.photoshelter.com since they are so focused on helping the professional photographer make sales. However, it can be very expensive to backup your entire archive online. For example, 200GB of storage costs about $100 per month. This is worth it if you need access to your files from any place on Earth, however, you can buy a lot of hard drives for $100 per month.
Q: What do you think about RAID Storage?
A: I think RAIDs (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) are a good idea if you have the money. They tend to be a bit pricey and are difficult to setup and manage, but if you need to make sure that you are back up and running immediately after a drive failure, then a RAID is the best alternative. I have chosen not to use a RAID because most of my work doesn�t require immediate delivery. For example, if I ran a news service, then a RAID is the only solution that makes sense. However, my redundancy comes from having multiple, separate hard drives.
Q: How do you keep track of your digital images?
A: I use iView Media Pro 3 for my DAM (Digital Asset Management) software. It is a great program and very capable. One of the neatest things about it is I can take the catalog file with me on the road and still search through my entire archive while traveling. Additionally, this program has a whole host of features that make my life easier such as bulk meta data tagging, creating meta data templates, robust keywording utilities and a very powerful search utility. I have a link on my website where you can buy it at 15% off retail: www.outthereimages.com/news.html
The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? Attend the Art of Travel Workshop this September. Our premier Art of Travel workshop will be located in Mazama, Washington in the North Cascades from September 21st – 24th, 2006. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We’ll be staying at the beautiful Mazama Country Inn (www.mazamacountryinn.com/index.htm) and will divide our time between classroom study and outdoor photography field sessions. We�ll cover digital workflow, field photography techniques, printing methods, and much, much more. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/travel_workshop.html
Portrait Photography Workshops
If you are interested in learning how to take great portraits, this two-day workshop is for you. We�ll spend a lot of time covering lighting arrangements, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. Our Portrait workshops this year are scheduled for 9/15 – 9/16 in Seattle, 11/10 – 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 – 11/18 in Seattle. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html
Our 2006 Nikonians workshops are more popular than ever. The workshops we held in Houston and Dallas were great fun. Sign up now while there is still space available because many have already sold out. We’ll be offering four different workshops in major cities throughout the USA. To sign up for a workshop, follow this link: www.greaterphoto.com. Our workshop offerings will be:
– Photoshop for Photographers
– Nikon Capture
– Nikon D70
– iTTL Flash system.
The dates and cities will be:
Jul 20-23 Vancouver BC
Jul 27-30 Seattle
Oct 5-8 New York
Oct 12-15 Philadelphia
Oct 19-22 Washington DC (at Penn Camera)
Nov 2-5 Chicago area
Our next Photoshop workshops will be in Seattle during September 7th – 9th. These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We have three levels of Photoshop instruction � Photoshop I, II, and III. Take them one at a time or take them as a group of two or more and get a 10% discount. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/photoshop_workshop.html (Note: If you can�t make the Seattle/Portland workshops, then you might check out our Nikonians Photoshop workshops around the country at www.greaterphoto.com.)
Nikon D200 Workshops
Our first D200 workshop on June 3rd went very well. Our next workshops are scheduled for August 19th in Seattle and August 26th in Portland. We�ll also have many more scheduled for 2007. This new digital camera from Nikon is a fantastic professional system. Its image quality is superb and it has an unparalleled feature set for the price. Nikon has truly hit a home run with the D200. Come to our workshop to learn all the important features so you can optimize its performance to your shooting style. Follow this link for more information: www.outthereimages.com/D200_workshop.html
Nikon D70 Workshops
The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras continue to be big sellers and so we continue to run these very popular workshops through 2006. We offer two days of training on the D70: a D70 Level I workshop and an Advanced D70 workshop. Updated schedules and course outlines are posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html
These workshops cover topics that every digital photographer struggles with. Questions such as how to manage those thousands of digital photos, how to profile and calibrate your system and how to automate your workflow so you don’t spend so much time at your computer. This workshop provides great “nuts and bolts” tutorials in a hands-on environment to make sure you learn the topics. We�ve just entered into an agreement with iView Media to provide their new digital asset management software at a reduced price. I guarantee you’ll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html
Nikon iTTL Flash Workshops
If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to get your flash photography to look natural, then you need to attend this workshop. We spend all day learning the ins and outs of the Nikon’s SB600 and SB800 flashes. You’ll never again have to struggle with these flashes. More info at: www.outthereimages.com/ittl_workshop.html
Nikon’s flagship cameras are marvels of engineering and capable of amazing results. We have created these two-day workshops to cater to those of you looking for professional level instruction on these incredible cameras. Learn how to use the outstanding white balance capabilities, multiple exposures, in-camera photo overlays and its lightning fast autofocus system during this feature packed two-day event. More info is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/D2_workshop.html.
Each month, more and more of you are signing up for private workshops. These are becoming very popular and are an affordable way for you to learn specifically what you want to learn in a one-on-one environment. During these sessions, we are able to work specifically on your own photographic needs and at your own pace. Available topics are Studio Lighting, Nature Photography, 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.
I have the honor of meeting a lot of photographers throughout the USA and I am continually amazed at the creativity I see out there. I appreciate your enthusiasm for photography and hope that this newsletter helps you create beautiful photographs.
Until next time
Out There Images – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335