The big news in the Nikon world is the arrival of the Nikon D800 and the Nikon D4 into the hands of photographers. I’ve been shooting with my D800 for a few weeks and absolutely love the camera system for its amazing resolution, wonderful handling and ground breaking image quality.
I’ve produced a few videos to talk through some of the new D800 features that I think are important. Check them out at the blog from these links:
New Workshops Posted and New Books Are Selling Well
We’ve added a slew of new workshops over at the Nikonians Academy with lots of new topics including Nikon D800/D4, Intro to Studio Photography, Lightroom Essentials, and Lightroom Advanced. Check out details of the new workshops at the end of the newsletter in the Workshops and Business Updates section.
Our two new photography books are selling very well. The second edition of The Nikon Creative Lighting System is regularly in the Amazon top ten for the lighting category. The book has even topped out at number one in the category a few times.
Buy an autographed copy here: The Nikon Creative Lighting System
Buy a copy from Amazon here: The Nikon Creative Lighting System
Thousands of Images, Now What? rolled off the presses a couple weeks ago and is just now getting into the hands of photographers around the world. This book was written to guide you through the process of organizing and optimizing your digital photos in a simple, yet sustainable way.
Buy an autographed copy here: “Thousands of Images, Now What?
Buy a copy from Amazon here: Thousands of Images, Now What?”
Nikon D800 and D4 Setup Guides
I’ve just finished creating the new setup guides for the Nikon D800 and Nikon D4. The guides are designed to help users set up their menus for different shooting scenarios such as Nature/Landscape, Portrait/Wedding, Sports/Action, and Point&Shoot.
The new guides are listed on the Publishing webpage along with many of the other popular Nikon dSLR cameras such as the D700, D3, D3s, D3x, and D7000. Download your own copy of the guides here: www.outthereimages.com/publishing.html
Stuff I Like This Month
1. Alltop for iPad. One of my favorite ways to stay plugged in to the photo industry is by reviewing the Alltop website for photography (photography.alltop.com/). Recently, the Alltop team created an iPad app that I’ll be able to use while on the go. Thanks to Guy Kawasaki and the Alltop team for this new app. Available here:Alltop for iPad
2. Review of Profoto Lighting equipment. Profoto lighting company asked me to write up a review of their new D1 Studio Kit. I loved using this gear and I highly recommend it. If you are looking to buy some of the best equipment in the industry, check out the review here: Profoto D1 Studio Three Head Kit
3. Instagram for Android. Instagram has finally released their Android App, bringing the modern photo-sharing program to the other half of the smart phone world. To download your own free copy of Instagram for Android, head over to their information page here: Instagram for Android.
4. Nikon D7000 Dissection. The cool people over at lensrentals.com have completely taken apart a Nikon D7000 to see what’s inside. To be honest, it’s kind of painful to see a camera treated this way, but I know you’ll get a kick out of seeing the innards of a Nikon dSLR. Follow this link for the gory details: D7000 Dissection.
March GOAL Assignment: Walking Zoom
Last month I asked you to photograph a scene by beginning from a far distance, then continue taking photos as you walked closer to the subject. Finally, as you arrived at the end of your mini photo-walk, I wanted you to take a frame-filling photograph without any visual clutter. The hope was that the final image would be much more powerful than the first image because you’ve honed in on a single subject, nothing else.
We can think of this approach to your photography as simplification by reduction. What I like about this process is how it encourages you to eliminate visual clutter. To see an example of this approach, look at the sequence of images to the left taken at a playground. The first image was photographed from quite a distance away with a wide-angle lens and is absolutely terrible for a number of reasons. It is high contrast, there’s no definable subject, there’s nothing of interest in the foreground, and it is relatively very cluttered.
The next shot was photographed from a bit closer distance and I also zoomed the lens a little more. This image is slightly better, but it’s still an overall terrible photograph.
Subsequent shots start to fill the frame with the playground equipment, but fail to show any discernible focal point in the scene. These pictures might work as insurance policy photos to record the equipment, but they completely fail in the artistic realm.
Finally, as I get in really close to the playground, I start finding interesting compositions with shape, form, and color. I climbed up onto the play structure and looked for something visually bold and colorful. You can see from my final shot of the tunnel that I arrived at a somewhat interesting photo, devoid of distracting visual elements. I even used leading lines to direct the viewer’s eye into the scene.
I think you’ll agree that overall, the final shot is far better than the first shot. The process of photographing as you walk closer to a scene can greatly improve your photography. I use this approach in my landscape photography, my event photography, and even in my travel photography. The goal is to keep seeking great images by eliminating visual distractions.
The great thing about regularly using this approach is that after a bit of practice, you’ll be able to skip all the initial “bad” photos and simply take the good ones at the end of the process. I encourage you to give the walking zoom method a serious try. Do it enough times and you’ll be amazed at how much your photography will improve.
April GOAL Assignment: Window Light Portraits and Book Giveaway
Studio lighting equipment can be expensive and take a long time to fully master. It is a well-known photographic fact that you can often get very similar professional results by using the daylight from a large window. Your GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment for the month of April is to take some photographs using big, beautiful, soft window lighting.
Photograph people, pets, or products and then post some of your window portraits to our GOAL Assignment Flickr account. This month I’ll give away an autographed copy of my new book Thousands of Images, Now What? to the person who posts the best looking window light photograph. You can add images to the group at this link here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/out_there_images/
Product Review: Joby Gorillapod Focus
For a while I’ve been skeptical of the Joby Gorillapod design, thinking that it wasn’t sturdy enough or very useful for “real” photography. After seeing how many other professional and advanced photographers were using Gorillapods, I decided to buy one to try out. A bit of quick research led me to the largest model called the Gorillapod Focus. Their website says it is for professional camera rigs with large zoom lenses weighing up to 11 pounds.
My Nikon D800 with 24-70mm f2.8 weighs in at 4 pounds, 10 ounces, so I knew this would be a great test of the Gorillapod system. Previous mini-tripods I’ve used in the past ended up being very flimsy and not useful in the real world.
I purchased my Gorillapod from B&H Photo with the Ballhead X tripod head for $100.95. (Here’s an affiliate link: Gorillapod Focus with Ballhead X). This setup includes a small ballhead with a standard Arca Swiss compatible quick release mounting shoe.
The Ballhead X is fully compatible with all my camera plates and existing tripod mounting systems. This means that my Kirk, Really Right Stuff, and Markins plates all work with the Ballhead X.
The Ballhead X even works seamlessly with another product I love called the Peak Design Capture Clip (product review here: Capture Clip Review). This is a godsend since I can take my camera on an outdoor adventure with the Capture Camera Clip attached to my backback shoulder strap, then quickly mount my camera on the Gorillapod with no fuss. The system works stunningly well together and provides an easy-to-travel-with tripod option for my backcountry adventures.
In the three weeks I’ve owned the Gorillapod, I’ve taken it with me just about everywhere including hiking, walks on the beach, trips to the store, and eating out at restaurants. The Gorillapod Focus isn’t “small” but it also isn’t as big as a full-sized tripod. I’m pretty consistent about bringing tripods with me for my photography, but this new Gorillapod makes it much easier for me to rationalize taking a tripod with me on family outings.
In fact, I used the Gorillapod Focus two nights ago with my family after dinner in Gig Harbor, WA at El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant. We went for a brief walk along the docks and took a family pic during one of our rare sunny days here in Washington. I placed the little tripod on a bench, then set the self timer on the D800 camera for the image.
The signature feature of the Gorillapod line of tripods is their flexible legs. The Focus model has rubber feet as well as rubber rings around each of the leg joints. The flexible leg joints mean that you can mount the entire tripod contraption on just about anything and the rubber rings give it a steady grip on most objects. I’ve already mounted the Gorillapod Focus to tree branches, posts, brackets, handlebars, my ice axe and everything else under the sun.
The Joby Gorillapod Focus also works for a variety of video applications. A few days ago I mounted it to a skateboard to serve as a dolly for video work. It held my Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens just fine. I’ve also used the Gorillapod Focus as an impromptu video shoulder rig. It isn’t as stable or functional as a “real” shoulder rig from Red Rock Micro or Zacuto, but the Gorillapod works great in a pinch!
Overall, I highly recommend the Joby Gorillapod Focus. It easily works with a professional sized camera and f2.8 lenses up to approximately a 70-200mm f2.8. One of the best things about using the tripod is that it will encourage you to try new vantage points that just don’t work with traditional tripods. The Gorillapod is sturdy enough to work for most of your photography, but isn’t as stable as a traditional tripod for long exposures. Use this tripod for your travel photography or when you need to go light and fast. It can’t take the place of a full-sized tripod, but that isn’t the point.
I give the Gorillapod Focus two thumbs up and deem it worthy of your hard-earned money.
Digital Tidbits: How to Fix a Red Face in Nikon Capture NX2
This month one of our readers (Lee) sent in a great question about how to fix red faces using software. As you might imagine, there are an almost unlimited number of ways to retouch faces in programs like Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. Even with all of these available options, one of my favorite ways fix face colors is in Nikon Capture NX2. As you’ll see below, I use NX2 for this purpose because of its simplicity and overall ease.
Here’s the question from Lee and my answer below.
Mike, my face gets a blotchy red at the drop of a hat. Cold weather, hot weather, glass of wine, exercise, you name it.
Which tool in Capture NX 2 is the best way to both lower the intensity and make a more normal flesh tone? I’ve tried them all with limited success, so I’m thinking there is a “right way” to do it.
Point me in the right direction and I can go from there with your Capture NX2 book.
Here are three methods to help fix a red face in Capture NX2:
1. Use a Color Control Point and place it on the face. Reduce the saturation slider by a few points until you’re happy with the skin coloration. This method is extremely fast/efficient and works well for many faces. (see examples to the left).
2. If the saturation slider from the first example doesn’t work, then consider using the Color Picker portion of the Color Control Point. The neat thing about the color picker is it has a hidden panel called “swatches” with an entire section of skin tones. Basically, you pick the flesh tone you like best and the Color Control Point replaces the existing tones with the new tones.
The actual process is very easy. Place a Color Control Point on the subject’s face, then click on the Advanced portion of the New Step you just added. The New Step shows up in the Adjust panel on the right side of the screen. Next, click on the Color Picker icon. This opens up the Color Picker tool where you can then click on the Swatches panel. Once in Swatches, choose the tone you’d like to use by clicking your mouse in the Skin Tone swatch until you find the tone that works best.
3. Another method for reducing the red in someone’s face is to paint in an area of reduced saturation using the Selection Brush. Here’s how: first, reduce the saturation of the whole picture using the Saturation/Warmth tool. Activate this tool by clicking New Step –> Select Adjustment –> Color –> Saturation/Warmth.
Reduce the saturation and/or warmth sliders until you are happy with the level of reduced saturation in the face. Next, paint in the reduced saturation only to the face by using the Selection Brush. Make sure to click the “plus” symbol on the brush so that you are adding the adjustment. This method only applies the adjustment where you paint in the photograph. In other words, it doesn’t apply the adjustment in areas that are unpainted.
Nikon Capture NX2 is a great program and I continue to use it for many of my photo edits. It’s easy-to-use tools continue to impress me with their high-quality results and fast response. Working with skin tones is something most photographers prefer to do in Photoshop, but you can see that Capture NX2 can do a great job under the right circumstances. Here’s an Amazon affiliate link to buy Capture NX2 if you’d like to own a copy for yourself: Capture NX2 Software.
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Out There Images, Inc – “Get Out And Learn!”
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