Welcome to the October edition of the Out There Images, Inc. newsletter. We�ve been busy here at OTI, Inc. and can�t wait to fill you in on all the fun projects we�ve been working on. The last three months have flown by in a flurry of activity. Seems like just yesterday I was talking about spring flowers and now, I look out the window and all my trees are turning to the bright neon colors of fall. I�ve been so busy running the photography business that I haven�t had time to write the monthly newsletter or update the blog or post to Facebook or Tweet or… well, you know. It�s just been plain busy around here. Keep reading for updates on books, workshops, photography tips, software and camera bags!
During the first half of July I traveled to Reno, CA and Manhattan, NY to hire and train two new instructors for the Nikonians Academy in the USA: Jim Stamates (stamates.ifp3.com/) and Steve Simon (www.stevesimonphoto.com). Our instructor staff at Nikonians Academy North America is now at six people and we are running photography workshops and trips throughout the world.
The second half of July was a nice reprieve as I was able to take a couple vacations with friends and family. I was blessed to be able to travel around the USA with my wife and children as we journeyed to Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. Later in the month we had tons of family out to our place in Gig Harbor, WA. It seemed like a constant flow of cousins, in-laws, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandpas and grandmas. I love having my nieces and nephews here and I really enjoyed being Uncle Mike for a few weeks. My back is still sore from all the piggy back rides!
As many of you know, I�m the director for Nikonians Academy North America (http://www.nikoniansacademy.com). We�ve always wanted to expand our operations to Europe and felt that now was the right time. So, during August, I traveled to Germany to assist in setting up our new European division for the Nikonians Academy. We plan to kick off Nikonians Academy Europe on October 2nd, 2010 in London, England and we have a full schedule planned for the UK and the Netherlands for the remainder of 2010. Soon we�ll begin posting more workshops for our European 2011 schedule. We�ve brought on two instructors, Hayo Baan and John McDonald to run workshops in The Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. We�ll soon be adding more instructors as we expand our operations to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It is an exciting time and our team is doing a wonderful job kicking off the new operation.
If you are living in Europe (or even just visiting) and want to attend a workshop, then head over to www.nikoniansacademy.eu for the full schedule.
September was spent running two major photography workshops. The first was the ANPAT (Annual Nikonians Photographic Adventure Trip) where we had 28 photographers from around the world come to Olympic National Park (http://www.nps.gov/olym/ ). We took a total of seven days to shoot all the great locations of Olympic NP such as Hurricane Ridge, Ruby Beach, Hoh Rainforest, Sol Duc and the San Juan Islands.
As happens more often than not in Washington State, we got our fair share of rain, with just a tiny bit of sunshine during the ANPAT. Photographers came from around the planet from places such as Switzerland, Netherlands, Mexico, USA, Canada, and Germany. We had a wonderful mix of international shooters and we enjoyed the stunning locations. Check out some of the participant�s photographs from the trip at the Nikonians ANPAT 10 Gallery.
The second workshop I ran in September was the Art of Travel Photography workshop located in the North Cascades of Washington State. Photographers from the USA and Canada converged on a quaint little town called Mazama Washington where we based our trip. This workshop was operated through Out There Images, Inc. and is an annual photo adventure. We were up before dawn every day and stayed out until sunset to capture the beautiful light.
Again, our group was challenged by the weather with rain and the first snow of the season, but we persevered and came away with some really incredible photographs. If there�s anything I�ve learned over the last few weeks of photography, it is that you gotta keep shooting pictures, even in the bad weather. Sometimes, there�s no other way! The group shot from last week�s trip is posted in this newsletter to the left.
As I look to October and November, we have lots on the schedule:
– I�ll be working on a book editing project with Wiley & Son�s Publishing for the new Nikon D7000 camera. This is going to be a great guide to a great camera!
– I�m running Nikon D300, iTTL wireless flash and Nikon D90/D80 workshops in New York and Washington DC from October 15th to October 24th. We still have seats available at nikoniansacademy.com
– The Tanzanian photo safari leaves on November 1st and returns November 15th. This trip is sold out, but we�ve already posted our trip for November 2011 at nikoniansacademy.com
New Book Published: The Wild Side of Photography
I�ve just received my advance copy of The Wild Side of Photography, Unconventional and Creative Techniques for the Courageous Photographer, published by Rocky Nook. I was a contributing author and produced two chapters for the book. One of the chapters was a tutorial on how to create an aerial photography monopod. The other was how to create a soft-focus lens effect using an UV filter and Vaseline.
The Wild Side of Photography contains 21 chapters from 15 different authors/photographers and was compiled by author Cyrill Harnischmacher. The subjects vary from stereoscopic photography to hacking the software of your camera to light writing with LED lamps. It is a very cool book that will stir your creative juices. DIY junkies (Do it Yourselfers) will love this book since almost every chapter has projects you can build in your garage or on your computer.
Buy your copy directly from Amazon here:
July GOAL Assignment: 50 Photos Within 10 Feet
Your last GOAL (Get Out And Learn) assignment was to take 50 photos in a small 10 foot radius. The concept of this photographic assignment was to get you to �see� more than what you might normally see right in front of you. So, how did you do? What did you learn about your photography?
I decided to take my 50 photographs inside my garage. I knew that it would be difficult to arrive at 50 distinctly different images within the confines of my garage space, but I decided this venue would be a great challenge. I photographed tools, sports equipment, parts of a table saw, ropes and all kinds of other things. (This exercise also taught me that I need to clean out my garage!)
As I progressed with my �50 Photos� GOAL assignment, I found my photos improved as time went on. Initially, I was simply pointing my camera at an object and pressing the shutter release button. As time progressed however, I began looking for patterns, shapes, designs and abstracts. This exercise taught me that it is difficult to be creative right off the bat. I found that in order to get the creative juices flowing, it took time and practice.
I think that�s one of the most important things for all photographers to learn from this GOAL assignment. Often times, creativity doesn�t just happen; rather it is derived after a process. The more you practice at being creative, the more creative you become.
Over the years in my workshops and in emails, I�ve had many people ask me how they can be more creative. Frequently, their comments go something like �I could never be that creative,� or �I�m just not creative.� Honestly, I think everyone can be creative if they are deliberate about it. If you practice trying to be creative, then eventually glimmers of creativity will show up. It is like a snowball rolling downhill. The more it rolls, the more it collects snow. That�s why I preach practice, practice, practice in all my newsletters, workshops and books. The more you practice, the better your photos will become.
This exercise of taking 50 photos within 10 feet has real world application for those of you who do a lot of travel photography. It is easy to get to a famous scene like the Eiffel Tower or Maccu Piccu and take a quick snap shot. The problem with that approach is that everyone else on the planet has also taken a quick snap from exactly the same location. However, if you take a bit of extra time at a scene and force yourself to keep shooting pictures even after you think you�ve got it photographically covered, you�ll be sure to come up with better shots in the long run.
A technique that I use when photographing a scene is to take at least ten photos with each lens I have with me. It is a deliberate way that I�ve found to force me to find new images. Each lens offers a new perspective and therefore, a new way of thinking about the same scene.
Think of the 50-photos-in-ten-feet exercise like the training Mr. Miyagi gave the Karate Kid. During training, Mr. Miyagi had the Karate Kid wax cars over and over again with a specific hand movement. Miyagi kept saying �Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.� After doing this hand movement for days on end, the Karate Kid got frustrated and asked why he had to do this when all he wanted was to learn Karate. Mr. Miyagi then showed him how the wax on, wax off movement was a core skill in Karate. Miyagi started to spar with the Karate Kid and the Kid responded by blocking each of Mr. Miyagi�s hits using the wax on, wax off moves. These moves were now permanently etched in his mind because of all the practice.
I know this is a corny example, and it barely relates to photography, but the concept of practicing something over and over is valid. If you didn�t complete the �50 Photos in Ten Feet� GOAL assignment last month, I encourage you to take the challenge. If you go at the exercise with gusto, then I guarantee that the process will help teach you to find compelling photographs at any location.
October GOAL Assignment: Shoot at Night with Ambient Light
During my last Art of Travel Photography workshop, our photo group was hiking out to Rainy Lake (http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/oka/recreation/rog/rainy.html) in the very early morning hours. The sun was at least an hour from rising and the stars were shining in all their glory. At one point along the way, we looked up to see that a nearby mountain peak was almost glowing in the moonlight against the near-black sky. I encouraged the group to aim their camera at the mountain and start taking images at about 30 seconds long. The resulting images were surprising to us all. The colors were saturated, the mountain popped against the sky and the trees were beautifully silhouetted. This was all before the sun had even risen!
I�d like you to do something similar for October. Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment for the month of October is to go out at night and take photographs using just ambient light. No flash, just ambient light. The ambient light source might be a city street lamp, the moon, automobiles, buildings, etc. In next month�s GOAL Assignment review, I�ll detail techniques for shooting at night with respect to focus, white balance, exposure, tripods and technique. Have fun!
Camera Bag Review: Gura Gear Kiboko
Camera bags and photographers. Sometimes I think we go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Other times, I think we go together like oil and water. Picking the right camera bag for every situation is pretty near impossible and that�s why I have an entire closet devoted to just camera bags. Small ones. Big ones. Medium ones. Waist bags. Shoulder bags. Backpacks. Black. Green. Yellow.
Name a bag and I�ve probably tried it or owned it. A few years ago, I finally came to my senses and realized that the perfect camera bag doesn�t exist. There isn�t one bag that serves all purposes. Therefore I�ve resigned myself to buying specific bags for specific tasks. I have a bag for street photography, one for hiking, one for travel, one for events and another for sports.
One type of photo excursion I�ve never had a specific bag for was Photo Safaris in Africa. Photography on these trips generally has very specific needs and I�ve been looking for a bag that helps solve these issues:
– You need a place to keep at least one and sometimes two long lenses attached to cameras.
– There is a lot of dust.
– Airlines have restrictive luggage weight requirements.
– Your photo equipment gets knocked around quite a bit in the bumpy Land Cruiser ride.
During one of my past photo safaris to Tanzania, a participant brought along a bag called the Kiboko by a company called Gura Gear. He used the backpack on each day of the trip and I was smitten. I had to get one for myself and finally bought one a couple months ago. Over the last month, I�ve been working with the bag in preparation for my next photo safari to Tanzania.
I�ve taken the bag on international flights from the USA through Paris and into Switzerland. I flew on the small regional jets as well as the large Airbus A340 and the Kiboko fit perfectly fine in both planes. I had the bag loaded with over 50 pounds of gear and I didn�t have a single problem in any of the airports.
I also took the Kiboko on a week-long photo adventure to Olympic National Park in Washington State. During this trip, it rained a lot and we did quite a bit of hiking through the forests. To combat the rain, the Kiboko has a built-in rain cover that is super easy to deploy. For the long hikes, the Kiboko�s harness system was extremely comfortable and I never had any back or shoulder issues � even after wearing the bag for six days of shooting.
One unique design element of the Kiboko is the bag splits down the middle, so you can store a long lens on one side with the camera attached and another lens/camera combination on the other side. The concept is that you can quickly access the lenses by unzipping the long pocket and then put them back to protect them from the dust or the rain. This is how I will use the bag when I�m in Africa. One one side of the bag, I�ll put a Nikon D300s with 200-400mm f/4 and a 1.4x Teleconverter. On the other side of the bag, I�ll use a Nikon D700 with a 70-200 f/2.8. I�ll also have a smaller DSLR with a wide angle lens attached. These three cameras will all be readily accessible so I can quickly remove the camera, take a photo and place it back into the bag, never having to remove lenses.
The materials used to create the Kiboko are absolutely top notch. As such, the bag is super light weight and weighs less than four pounds when empty. The fabric is a high tech and durable Dimension Polyant VX-21 sail cloth which holds up very well to abrasion, dust, rain, etc. Also, the zippers are tough and easy to grab with their very large pull-tabs.
One of the best things about the backpack is how easy it is to fold up the shoulder straps and stow them inside the bag. When all the straps are stowed, the bag looks very small which helps to hide the fact that you�re carrying 50 pounds of expensive camera gear inside!
So, there you have it. The Gura Gear Kiboko simply works. It is one of the finest camera backpacks I�ve ever owned and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to own the best. At $399.00, it isn�t the cheapest bag out there, but then again, if you want the best materials and the best design, you�re going to have to pay for it. It�s worth every penny.
Here�s the link to buy the Kiboko:
Here�s the link to Gura Gear�s main site:
Digital Tidbits: Nik HDR Efex Pro and the Austrian Alps
A few weeks ago I traveled to Germany to help kick off Nikonians Academy Europe. During my stay, I took an extra day to do some hiking in the Austrian Alps. One of my colleagues in Germany, Hendric Schneider, is an avid hiker and offered to take me hiking to the Schesaplana; a mountain peak which rises to 2966 meters (9371 ft). It is a beautiful section of Austria which offers a commanding view of the Austrian and Swiss Alps.
My photographic goal during the hike was to take a number of HDR images in order to test out the new beta version of Nik Software�s new HDR program called HDR Efex Pro (www.niksoftware.com/hdrefexpro/usa/entry.php). I�m on the Nik beta testing team for this software product and I wanted to see if HDR Efex Pro was as good as they said it was.
Our hike was stunning of course and the view along the way was really phenomenal. As we made it to the top of the peak, bad weather started blowing in and the clouds were quickly swirling around. The wind was blowing hard, rain started to fall, and we knew we had to get out of there. However, I needed to take a number of HDR sequences from the summit, so I hand-held my exposures in the howling wind using the auto bracketing function on my Nikon D700. I knew that I�d be giving the auto-align feature in HDR Efex Pro a good workout.
As we made our way down the mountain, I also took a number of HDR images of lakes, cairns and landscapes to further test out the software.
The next morning, back at my hotel in Germany, I loaded the photos into Lightroom and then exported the HDR sequences into HDR Efex Pro. Immediately upon opening my first sequence, I was blown away with the program�s default HDR rendering. It quickly auto-aligned the images, removed any ghosting and output an incredible HDR version.
Immediately, I could see that the HDR conversion process was going to be fast and effective. One of the frustrations I�ve had with other HDR software was the lack of direction in the program and the time required to move all the sliders. It was only after working with the program for a while that you could finally arrive at the image you wanted. Even then, the process wasn�t always repeatable from picture to picture.
Nik has solved this issue by providing 33 HDR presets that cover the gamut from realistic to heavy HDR to black and white HDR. These 33 preset choices provide an excellent starting point for the HDR conversion process. Once you have chosen the HDR preset that meets your creative vision, you can then move to the right side of the screen to fine tune the parameters to your own liking. The slider adjustments allow you to increase the HDR effect, change saturation, modify contrast or increase structure.
After you�ve made your slider adjustments, you can then use Nik�s revolutionary control points to selectively apply HDR settings in the photo. Imagine being able to change the HDR effect for the sky while keeping the HDR effect stable for the foreground. It is truly a wonderful concept and I�ve used the HDR control points on just about every photo I have produced in HDR Efex Pro.
The last feature I�ll talk about with HDR Efex Pro is that you can perform the HDR process on a single image. In other words, if you only took one image of a scene, you can export the photo to HDR Efex Pro and use all the presets, adjustment sliders and control points. I�ve done this on quite a few pictures and have come away with awesome results.
I could keep going on and on about how much I like the program, but eventually, I have to stop writing and go take some photos. HDR Efex Pro will be available for public purchase in October, 2010. The program will only work as a plug-in for Lightroom, Photoshop and Aperture. You�ll be able to buy HDR Efex Pro from Nik Software�s website:
The last few months of the 2010 workshop season are now upon us. I have two more months of busy workshop activity and then I�ll be on a workshop break until early 2011. We�ll be posting the 2011 workshop schedule within the next few weeks on the Out There Images website and the Nikonians Academy website. Also, look for news to be posted at the blog and on Facebook/Twitter. Here are the remaining Nikonians Academy Workshops and travel adventures I�ll be running this year. New York 10/14 � 10/17 (seats available) Washington DC 10/21 � 10/24 (seats available) Tanzania Wildlife Safari 11/4 � 11/16 (SOLD OUT) Our Nikonians Academy workshops include Nikon D300s/D300, Nikon D700, Nikon D3/D3s/D3x, Nikon D80/D90, Nikon Wireless Flash, Capture NX 2, HDR Photography, travel, adventure, wildlife and more! You can find more information here: www.nikoniansacademy.com.
Every single month I run private workshops for people who want to learn in a one-on-one environment. These are great for folks who want to focus on specific topics related directly to their interests. Topics have included product photography, learning your camera, Lightroom, Capture NX2, wedding photography, Photoshop, color management, nature photography, digital workflow, macro photography, location portraiture and many others. I also regularly consult with businesses, schools, organizations and museums to assist with their photographic and digital workflow needs.
Call (253) 851-9054 or email ([email protected]) if you have questions about private tutoring or consulting.
I appreciate all the feedback I receive from you, the readers of the newsletter and the blog. Thank you for reading and feel free to contact me any time if you have questions. If you need more photo encouragement during the month, be sure to check out www.outthereimages.com/blog for regular updates, news, tips and commentary.
Out There Images, Inc. – “Get Out And Learn!”
PO Box 1966
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
email [email protected]