Hello friends –
I hope you�ve been able to get outside to photograph all the beautiful fall colors this season. The holidays are also right around the corner and it is time to focus our attention on family, friends and festivities. I�m very much looking forward to spending time with cousins, nieces and nephews this Thanksgiving and I also know that Christmas is coming faster than I want it to!
Our most recent workshops on the east coast were a big success. We taught in the New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC areas and had a great time. It is always fun to meet so many new people and photograph in new locations. I can�t wait to get back for next year. Additionally, I just returned from Chicago for our last Nikonians.org workshop of the year. All of the Chicago workshops were completely sold out!
Our new 2007 schedule is very close to being completed. We are still coordinating with a number of organizations and cities to bring you many new topics and locations. We have a few dates set right now for Out There Images workshops, and here they are:
– D200 Seattle, WA, Jan 12th, Jan 13th , Jul 13th, July 14th
– D200 Portland, OR, Jan 19th, Jan 20th
– D80/D70 Seattle, WA, Feb 17th, Apr 19th
– D80/D70 Portland, OR, May 11th
– Nikon iTTL Flash, Seattle WA, Jan 11th, Apr 20th
– Nikon iTTL Flash, Portland, OR, Jan 18th, May 12th
– Art of Travel, Mazama, WA Sep 20th – 23rd
– Art of Travel, Columbia River Gorge, Apr 26th – 29th
– Digital Workflow, Seattle, Feb 16th.
I�ll be updating our website with the new dates over the next few days.
We�re going to be adding a large number of cities with the Nikonians.org and those are still being ironed out. These workshops will include topics such as Nikon D200, Nikon D2X, Nikon D80, Capture NX software, Wireless Flash (iTTL system), travel photography, and other topics. I�ll send a second workshop update email later this month to announce the new workshop dates and locations with the Nikonians.
October 2006 GOAL Solutions:
Last month�s GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment was to find at least three ways to make your background clean and uncluttered while keeping your subject in clear, sharp focus.
Here are six solutions to the problem:
1. Photograph your subject in front of a large blank area such as grass or a wall. Make sure your subject is at least 5 feet away from the background so that it becomes out of focus.
2. Use a narrower depth of field such as f2.8 or f1.8 to blow background out of focus.
3. If photographing people for portrait work, position them at least six feet away from background so any wrinkles on the sheet or muslin will be out of focus.
4. Carry along a black piece of felt that you can place behind your flower or subject to eliminate the background.
5. Walk to a different position to eliminate bright and cluttered background elements. I typically will wait to set up my tripod until I have found the best spot for a clean background. Once I�ve done this, then I set up the tripod.
6. Make the background contrast significantly with the subject. For example, make the background all black if your subject is light colored. Or, if your subject is blue, then make the background yellow or orange.
November GOAL Assignment:
One of the frequent questions I receive at workshops is how to achieve saturated colors in your images. Many people mention that their camera�s images don�t just pop right from the camera. So, this month�s assignment is to set up your camera for saturated colors. Take a picture of the following subjects and try to make the colors pop:
– Outdoor Landscape
Here are some things to consider when doing this:
1. Camera setups (i.e. optimize image settings, exposure)
2. Lighting and environment
3. Atmospheric conditions
4. Proximity to subject (i.e. how close you are)
Now, go take some pictures and get out and learn!
Digital Tidbits: A Detailed Look at the Shadows and Highlights tool in Photoshop
As photographers, one of the common problems we come across is lack of detail in our shadows. One of the reasons for this is that our digital cameras have a fairly narrow exposure latitude of about 4.5 ~ 5.5 stops. What that really means is that your camera has a hard time maintaining detail in the highlights while also maintaining detail in the shadows. If you expose for your highlights (in other words, don�t blow them out), then you frequently have blocked up or dark shadows.
I�m always a proponent of getting the photos correct in the camera, so when I�m photographing on location, I work hard to fill in the shadows with fill flash or with a reflector. However, there are many times when that just isn�t appropriate or possible, so we are left with fixing it later in Photoshop.
One of my favorite tools to do this in Photoshop is the Shadows/Highlights tools. To access this tool in Photoshop CS or CS2, follow this path from the menus: Image –> Adjustments –> Shadow/Highlights. Photoshop Elements also has this function under Enhance –> Lighting –> Shadow/Highlights. If you are using CS or CS2, then you�ll need to click on the �Show More Options� box to access the entire tool set.
The purpose of the Shadow/Highlight tool is to allow you to selectively brighten the shadow detail or darken the blown highlight detail. Most of the time, we suffer from blocked up (dark) shadows and we need to pull out some more detail there. There are a number of controls on this tool, so let�s explore each one.
The first control is the Shadows Amount. You use this to brighten up just the shadow information by moving the slider to the right. The Photoshop default is 50% and I find that value to be a pretty good starting point. Sometimes I choose to go a little bit higher and sometimes a little bit lower. You�ll adjust it until it looks good to your eye. Be careful that you don�t move the slider too far and start creating an inordinate amount of noise. It is common for people to try to really brighten up those shadows, but you don�t get something for nothing! The more you brighten it, the more likely you are to get noise.
The second control is Shadows Tonal Width. This adjusts the brightness range of shadows that you�ll be affecting with the Amount slider. What? Ok, in English – if you use a very small tonal width like 10%, then you are only going to brighten the very darkest parts of the image. On the other hand, if you set your tonal width to 75%, then you�ll brighten the shadows as well as the midtones. A tonal width of 100% will adjust brightness even into some of the highlights.
The third control is Shadows Radius. This is a difficult adjustment to grasp since it isn�t really adjusting brightness at all. Rather, it affects how large of an area around a transition between shadow and highlight you can adjust. For example, in the photograph of Grand Central Station, there are areas where there is a stark transition between the deep shadows of the people and the bright sunlight on the floor. The radius function allows you to vary how much Photoshop brightens the area around this dark/light transition. If you want, you can create a halo around this transition or prevent a halo around this transition depending on your radius. There is no best answer for every photo, so I encourage you to adjust it until you are happy with the results. The Photoshop default of 30px seems to do a good job most of the time. However, sometimes I get pretty cool results by cranking the radius all the way to the right.
Now for the Highlights area of the tool. All the adjustments under the Highlights are the same as for the Shadows, with one important difference. The Amount slider doesn�t brighten the highlights, but rather it darkens the highlights. Use this tool when you�ve blown some of the highlight detail and want to try to regain it. In the Bell X1 airplane photo to the left, I set the Highlights Amount slider to 100% to try to regain some of the lost detail on the top of the plane from the overhead lighting. Tonal width and radius work exactly the same as above.
Finally, we have the Adjustments section to contend with. These can be very important to the resulting image, so let�s learn about them. The Color Correction slider is to add saturation back into the image. Most of the time when we brighten a photo, we also lose some of the nice color saturation. So, Photoshop has kindly given us the ability to re-saturate the image. The default of +20 seems pretty good most of the time, however, feel free to bump it up to +30 or even +40 if your image needs some more color.
Midtone contrast allows you to take the portions of the picture that are middle brightness (reds, greens, faces, plants, etc.) and increase their contrast without really changing the contrast of the highlights or shadows. Hmm. I don�t mess with this slider very much. If I want to change the contrast of the image, I�ll use curves to do that, so I leave this slider at default.
The last two adjustments are used to tell Photoshop what percentage of the highlights and shadows you want to clip (or lose) when you use this tool. Typically, I like to clip just a little bit of both the highlights and the shadows so that we have good contrast with true whites and true blacks. If you clip too much, then clouds lose all their detail and shadows block up too dark. So, I recommend leaving these set at 0.01%. If you want to clip these even more, do so by using the Levels tool which gives you much more control.
Look at the example photographs on the left to see how I used the Shadow/Highlight tool to improve these photographs.
As mentioned above, we are very close to finalizing our 2007 workshop schedule. We have two remaining workshops in 2006, which are the Digital Portrait Photography workshops in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR (see below for more details).
If a workshop isn�t listed below, that doesn�t mean that it won�t be scheduled, it just means that we�re still planning final dates and logistics.
Portrait Photography Workshops
Our most recent Portrait Photography workshop in Seattle was last month and we had a ball. 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 setup, gear choices, posing methods and portrait technique. This is a great hands-on workshop with lots of time dedicated to taking photos. Our final Portrait workshops for 2006 are scheduled for 11/10 – 11/11 in Portland, 11/17 – 11/18 in Seattle and we still have a couple seats available in each class. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html
D80 Workshops The replacement camera for the D70 is a fantastic system. I�ve purchased a D80 for my own use and will be leading new workshops in 2007 on this great camera. Check here for more information and future dates: www.outthereimages.com/D80_Workshop.html.
Nikonians Workshops We are going to be offering topics such as D80/D70, D200, Nikon Capture NX, Nikon iTTL wireless flash, and D2X through the Nikonians.org. We�ll be running them in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Boston, New York, Washington DC, San Diego and Chicago. We�ll be adding more topics and cities as the year progresses. I expect to have all these dates and topics ready to go within the next couple weeks.
We�re scheduling more Digital Workflow Workshops for 2007. This workshop covers 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�ll be using programs such as iView Media Pro, Photoshop Bridge/Browser and many other programs to manage our digital assets. I guarantee you’ll enjoy this day of learning. Go here for more details:
D80 and D70 Workshops
We�ll be combining our D70 and D80 workshops for 2007. We�ll be offering these in the Seattle, WA and Portland, OR areas through Out There Images, Inc. Additionally, we�ll be offering these through the Nikonians (www.nikonians.org) in cities all across the USA. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/D80_workshop.html or www.outthereimages.com/D70_workshop.html.
The Art of Travel Workshops
Want to learn how to take great travel photos? The Art of Travel Workshop in September 2006 was some of the most fun I�ve had in photography. Our premier Art of Travel workshops will be expanded for 2007 and will include new locations in the USA. Our focus will be on creating stunning travel photos in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. At these workshops, we 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
Nikon D200 Workshops
We�ll have many more D200 workshops 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 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 have become 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.
Feel free to contact us at any time if you have questions or need assistance with your photography. We work hard to get back to you as soon as possible and provide the very best information possible.
Take some great photos of your family this month and Get Out And Learn!
Out There Images, Inc. – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335