Hello and welcome to the July Out There Images Newsletter. Summer is finally here in Washington State and it looks like we�ve left the rain in the rear view mirror for now. I�ve just finished up five months of traveling and running workshops and now I�m home for most of the sunny season. It will be good to catch up on projects and get in some good photography in my own neck of the woods.
Our Portrait Photography workshop in Seattle next week has one seat remaining and our Photoshop workshop July 25-26 has a few seats remaining. Also, we are over half full for the Art of Travel workshop in Washington State�s North Cascades this October. You can see more information on these workshops here: www.outthereimages.com
Guess what!?! Today, Nikon announced a bunch of new camera equipment! The Nikon D700 camera, the SB900 flash and a few new lenses. The D700 will be a full-frame (FX) sensor that is the same size as the sensor used in the Nikon D3, however the body size will be very similar to the D300/D200 body. It will have the same high ISO noise performance as the D3 but will cost about $2000 less than the D3. There is a great writeup at www.dpreview.com. I already have my order in for a new D700 at Kenmore Camera (www.kcamera.com) and I can�t wait to give it a try.
The SB900 flash will be a big upgrade to the SB800 flash. Rather than using a menu driven system to access the wireless communication functions, it will actually have a switch on it to select between commander, remote and dedicated modes! Imagine that, a good old fashioned switch! Additionally, the flash will be designed so that the head will swivel 180 degrees to the left and 180 degrees to the right. That alone will make the flash easier to use on a daily basis (I�m always finding that I have to reposition my SB800 flash because the head won�t twist all the way around). Again, Nikon will be receiving some more of my hard-earned money for this new flash!
It is a good time to be a Nikon owner. It seems as if they are hitting on all cylinders right now and have the right products at the right price. Nice work Nikon.
June GOAL Assignment Answers: Capturing the Moment
Your Get Out And Learn (GOAL) assignment last month was to work hard at capturing the decisive moment in a scene. Your goal was to capture the peak of action. The intensity of emotion. The smile. The crash. These are the things that make a photo compelling and often times tell a story all by themselves. Sometimes, I think photographers can get pretty lazy by setting our cameras to continuous shooting mode and then rattle off a bunch of shots hoping to capture the perfect moment. There are times however when it pays to capture exactly the right moment: The Decisive Moment.
One of our modern day masters of photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson, was known for his photographic work named The Decisive Moment. This was a book he put together based on his premise that �There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.� In 1957, the Washington Post interviewed Cartier-Bresson and he said, “Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative,” he said. “Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”
I am the first to admit that the only things Cartier-Bresson and I have in common are that we both have cameras and we both breathe oxygen. I�m hardly even worthy to mention his name. However, I strive to learn from the greats and we should all have people from whom we draw our photographic inspiration. Cartier-Bresson had an innate ability to capture what others didn�t see. He observed his environment and was prepared to take the photo at exactly the right moment.
Henri Cartier-Bresson passed away in 2004 and was considered to be the father of modern photojournalism. I encourage you to take some time to visit his foundation�s website to better understand his photography: www.henricartierbresson.org. Also, visit his page at Magnum Photos� website here: www.magnumphotos.com.
So how do we train ourselves to capture the moment? I�ve included three things below that you should consider when working to capture the decisive moment.
1. First and foremost, we need to devote some time to studying and researching the subject. The closer we study our subject, the better we are able to anticipate a creative event. For example, if you are a bird photographer, then spend some time reading about the lifestyle of the particular species you are photographing. Does the bird make a certain sound? What environment does it use for feeding? Where does it nest? What action does the bird take before it takes flight?
Whenever I travel, I make sure to understand the critical times of the day with respect to light such as sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset. I also find out details like the demographics of the area, the political issues and any big events that are going on. Find out what the train schedule is and where the wetlands are. All of these things can help you to better understand when and where to be for capturing the moment. The more you understand, the better prepared you are. Like Cartier-Bresson said, �Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.�
As funny as it sounds, the best landscape photos are really a product of capturing the moment. The beautiful colors of sunrise or the fleeting rainbow happens at only one brief moment in time. I am always amazed at how quickly light changes when I�m out taking photos. The shot here of the sunrise in the Columbia River Gorge happened just after the sun peeked above the horizon. I was leading a photography workshop and our group had been waiting for quite a while to take sunrise photos. I had written down the sunrise/sunset times and also knew the angle of sunrise.
The pre-dawn colors were pale and washed out and most of us were feeling like the sunrise was going to be a bust. At precisely the right moment, the sun rose and the sky turned orange. Thirty seconds later, it was gone. The colors disappeared and the light went flat again. Because we had researched the time and location, we got the shoot. �Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.�
2. The next element to capturing the moment is to spend time just observing the scene in front of you. Look for things happening around you and try to anticipate where the peak of action will occur. For example, the shot of the two college students was taken at the University of Washington right after a session of classes got out. I saw the lady in the red pants from about 100 yards away starting to run towards something. She formed a huge smile and started waving her arms in the air.
I took a look to my left and saw another woman in a gray sweatshirt sprinting to meet her friend with the same excited look on her face. It didn�t take too much mental power to figure out that they were running towards each other and would soon unite in a happy embrace. I waited until they got closer and then took the shot when the lady on the left jumped into the air. The photo captured the smile, the excitement, the joy and the jump. Tight cropping eliminated the distractions and a fast shutter speed froze the motion.
Sports photography is also a great way to hone your observational skills since you have to constantly watch the action and then click the shutter at precisely the right moment. The photo example here is a shot of a youth-league soccer tournament in Tennessee. This was the championship game and the tension was high. I watched the offense take the ball down field and it looked like their forward striker would be taking a shot on goal. I pointed the camera at the goalie and then watched his movements to anticipate the moment. He jumped into the air to block the kick and I snapped the shot. Anticipation was key. Clicking the shutter at the peak of action was also key.
3. The last tip I have for you is to always have your camera set for quick response. The goal is to be able to pull your camera up to your eye and be able to get a sharp, well-exposed photograph without thinking. Before I put my camera back into the bag, I pre-set a number of camera settings so I can just pick it up and get shots without hesitation. Specifically, I set ISO to at least 400, aperture to f2.8, autofocus to AF-C, white balance for the current lighting conditions and light meter for Matrix (or multi-pattern). This will allows me to quickly pick up my camera and snap the shot at the instant it happens. You can�t grab quick shots when your camera is set for f22 and ISO 100.
The train photo on the left is a good example of this scenario. I was walking along Titlow Beach Park in Tacoma Washington when I heard a freight train in the distance. I turned and saw the group of girls walking together down a trail and framed up the shot with the train barreling down the tracks behind them. The high ISO and big aperture contributed to a fast shutter speed so I could hand-hold without blurriness. Using Matrix Meter meant that I didn�t have to spend any time fiddling with exposure. Earlier, I had set the white balance so I�d retain the nice warmth of sunset. I snapped the photograph and then a second later the train was out of the picture.
Another example of this concept is the photograph of the emu. During the last week of school, my daughter�s class took a trip to a farm where the owners take in unwanted animals. The farm�s purpose is to bring these animals back to health. One of the more interesting animals there was an emu that they rescued from someone who didn�t want it any longer. The shot here was taken with my camera�s �quick response settings�. F2.8, ISO 400, matrix meter, AF-C and cloudy white balance. The emu was moving around quickly and I saw that the grass behind the bird would make a nice uncluttered background. I picked up the camera and shot the photo, capturing the moment. A second later, and the bird had moved on.
So, that�s it! Capturing the moment takes doing three things well:
1. Research your subject.
2. Watch and anticipate.
3. Set up your camera for quick response.
As an end note, I wanted to show a photo from one of our readers who did a great job of capturing the decisive moment last month. Janice Wilczek took this shot of her son�s graduation in June. She utilized all three elements that I talk about above! Look at his face, the action, the body language and the focus. Everything came together for a great shot where Janice captured the moment. Nice work Janice!
July GOAL Assignment: Vanishing Point
A powerful tool in our photographic toolkit is the use of a vanishing point. A vanishing point is defined as a point to which parallel lines appear to converge. Typical examples of vanishing points are railroad tracks fading to the horizon or a footpath disappearing into the forest. Whether you know it or not, your use of vanishing points can make or break your composition.
I encourage you to consciously utilize vanishing points as an element of your photographic design. When used correctly, a vanishing point can help separate your subject from the background. It can also visually draw the viewer into the scene.
Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment this month is to incorporate a vanishing point into your photos. Next month, I�ll talk about the design and composition of vanishing points and why I think they are so important to your photography.
Digital Tidbits: Nikon Capture NX2 � Favorite Features
Most of you Nikon shooters out there know that Nikon has now introduced Nikon Capture NX2. It is available as a free download for a 60 day trial, and then you can buy it after that for $179. If you are an existing owner of Nikon Capture NX 1, then you can upgrade to Capture NX2 for $109. The link to download Capture NX2 is here: Nikon Capture NX2.
I�ve been using Nikon Capture for a few years now and I�m continually impressed by each new version. This time around, Nikon added a few features that make Capture NX2 a must-have in my digital workflow. Specifically, there are three new features that I really like and that I think make the program worth the upgrade. These are the Auto Retouch Tool, the Selection Control Point and the new dual-monitor capability.
The first new feature that gets my approval is the Auto Retouch Tool. People who have been using Nikon Capture for a few years have been frustrated at not being able to fix dust and other imperfections in the software program. In previous versions, our approach has always been to make the photo �pretty� in Capture NX and then send it off to Photoshop final touchup for dust and spots. Now, with Capture NX2, we can fix dust and spots without ever leaving the program and that saves much time and energy. The Auto Retouch Tool is extremely easy to use. Simply press the Band-Aid button and then choose the diameter of the brush so that it is as big as your dust spot in the photograph. Place the brush over the offending area, click the mouse and viola! It is done.
As you can see in the photographs to the left, the Auto Retouch Tool works on a lot of things other than sensor dust. The example shot here is from a Boeing B17 that I took a flight in last week in Tacoma, Washington. I shot this photo from the top gun turret in the plane and you can see that it was encrusted with lots of dead bugs! I used the Auto Retouch Tool to clear away the bugs and fix the photo. It was easy and fast. Take a look in the spots in the sky and in the trees and you can see how well the Auto Retouch Tool did its job.
The next new feature that I am excited about is that you can now fully utilize the program on a dual-monitor computer system. Capture NX2 has a special function that lets you pick what to place on the second monitor. For example, you can keep your browser screen and your editing screen on two different monitors. I like to work so that the browser stays on the left monitor while the editing window is open in the right monitor. It is a natural workflow and the new setup allows me to work faster inside the program.
The third (and my favorite) new feature in Nikon Capture NX2 is Selection Control Point. This allows you to make any change to your image and then use the new Selection Control Point to add or remove the change from a part of the photo. For example, let�s say that you want to make a black and white conversion but wanted to keep a portion of the photo in color. The approach in NX2 is to convert the image to black and white using the B&W Conversion Step, and then choose the Selection Control Point to add the color back to a part of the photo. It is almost embarrassing how easy and fast it is to do this kind of change.
Look at the photograph of the B25 Mitchell Bomber to the left. You can see the color image first. I then converted the image to B&W using Capture NX2�s B&W Conversion tool. Then, I activated the �Minus Selection Control Point� to take away the black and white and return portions of the photo back to color. In this case, I placed the Selection Control Points on the red and yellow elements of the airplane while leaving the rest of the image black and white. Cool stuff!
Another use for this tool is illustrated in the Mt. Rainier shot to the left. I added blue saturation to the sky with the LCH Editor, but I didn�t want the trees in the foreground to also turn blue. So, I used the Selection Control Points to only add the saturation to the areas where they were active. Another neat new element with this Selection Control Point utility is that Capture NX2 lets you see the affected area with a colored mask. In this case, the green mask shows what is being hidden and what is being affected by the LCH saturation change.
Here�s one more example use for this tool. On the Boeing B17 cockpit photo to the left, you can see that the initial shot of the pilot was pretty dark. I should have used a fill-flash! To fix it, I use a Curves step to brighten up the interior of the plane and then used the Selection Control Point to bring back detail in the sky. In other words, I took away the effect from the sky but allowed the effect for the cockpit.
Just about anything you can imagine in Capture NX can be applied with the Selection Control Point, such as sharpening, sepia tone conversions, levels, curves, hue/saturation, noise reduction, etc. It is a powerful tool and I know I�ll be using it extensively in my workflow.
By the way, many of you have already asked if I�ll be teaching Nikon Capture NX2 workshops and the answer is yes! We�ll be running them all around the USA for the Nikonians Academy. You can see the workshops posted here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
Workshops continue to be popular, so we keep offering them! We are half-way through the year already and we�ve finished up about 35 of our 70 workshops for 2008. We are running them through Out There Images, Inc. as well as the Nikonians Academy (www.nikoniansacademy.com). Check out the information below for specific topics and dates.
The Art of Travel Photography Workshops
Join us for a photographic adventure in 2008! Learn how to turn your next vacation into an artistic event with our Art of Travel Photography Workshops. The next adventure will be in the North Cascades NP/Mazama 10/2/08 ~ 10/5/08. If you are thinking of signing up, contact us immediately in order to be placed on our signup list. Go here for more details:
Photoshop Level I and II
These workshops are a great way to learn Photoshop while using practical, real world examples that photographers face each day. We are offering two levels of Photoshop instruction � Photoshop I and Photoshop II. Take them one at a time or take them as a group and get a 10% discount. Our Photoshop workshop is scheduled for July 25th and July 26th, 2008 in Seattle, WA. Go here for more information: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html
Nikonians Academy Workshops
We’ll be teaching great photographic subjects in Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Portland, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington DC, Tanzania, and more!
Our topics include:
– Two African Safaris
– Photo trips to Moab, Yosemite, Big Sur and more
– Nikon D300
– Nikon D200
– Nikon D80/D70
– iTTL Flash
– Hands-on Digital Printing
Find out about all of our workshops here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
We�ve brought back our popular Portrait Photography workshop this year. It will be scheduled for July 11-12, 2008 in Seattle, WA. If you�ve ever wanted to learn how to use a flash meter, how to set up a studio, how to arrange your lighting or how to use flash, then this is the right workshop for you. It is a two-day event with lots and lots of hands-on learning and photography. Come along, you�ll enjoy it! I promise. Go here for more details: www.outthereimages.com/portrait_workshop.html
Private instruction is a very popular and affordable way 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, exposure theory, and more. Many of our customers have requested specific topics and we have tailored our private tutoring to their needs. Call (253) 851-9054 or email ([email protected]) if you have questions about this option.
I hope the month of July brings great photos and wonderful inspiration. Keep shooting and Get Out And Learn!
Out There Images, Inc. – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335