November 2012 Newsletter


In this month’s newsletter:

  • Stuff I Like This Month
  • Galapagos and New Mexico
  • September GOAL Assignment: Finding Faces
  • November GOAL Assignment: Symmetry
  • Book Review: Exposed
  • Book Review: Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6
  • Christmas Shopping Guide
  • Workshop and Business Updates

2012 has proven to be a banner year for the camera industry, and more importantly for us consumers. I am impressed with the gear manufacturers as they are doing a stellar job of improving their camera lines at record pace. The competition between camera brands hasn’t been better or tighter than it is right now. Nikon, Canon and Sony have all produced amazing dSLR cameras while Fuji, Panasonic, Sony and Olympus are tearing up the mirrorless interchangeable lens market. There are so many excellent camera bodies out there that I’m struggling to keep track of them all.

At this point in time, my favorite camera, by far, is the Nikon D800. The more I shoot with it the more impressed I am with its capabilities. The dynamic range is incredible and the resolution is unmatched in a dSLR. Even though my hard drives are filling up quickly with the D800’s 36MP files, I’m pleased as punch with everything I’m getting from this camera. I can’t recommend it enough, and that is why it gets first place on my shopping guide at the end of this newsletter.

Galapagos and New Mexico

Galapagos photo workshop group

Our group of photographers in the Galapagos Islands.

Blue footed boobies diving for fish.

Galapagos blue footed boobies diving for fish.

Galapagos sea lion

Galapagos sea lion.

Over the last few months I’ve travelled to Quito (Ecuador), Galapagos Islands, New Mexico, and Atlanta. I’ve even been virtually travelling Down Under while giving a 4-part webinar for Nikon FX cameras for Australia and New Zealand time zones.

I thoroughly enjoyed the photography in Galapagos and New Mexico. Galapagos was an incredible experience because of the unprecedented access to animals. I’ve never been able to approach so many wild animals so closely and the photo opportunities were literally overwhelming. Everywhere you turned, photographs awaited. Everywhere you walked, you had to keep a keen eye out for fear of actually stepping on animals. Birds, iguanas, sea lions, crabs and much more were at an arms-length away.

Each evening when we would return to our chartered yacht, the group would let out a big exhale, eat dinner, then collapse from the excitement. I can’t wait to go back.

Light painting in White Sands National Monument.

Starry skies and light painting in White Sands National Monument.

New Mexico was also a fantastic photographic adventure. I’ve wanted to shoot in New Mexico’s wild areas for years and I was grateful for the opportunity to lead a tour there this October. I spent ten days in this beautiful state photographing everything from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta to the wild landscapes of White Sands National Monument. Route 66, Bandelier National Monument, Tent Rocks, Santa Fe, Taos, the Rio Grande River, and the list goes on and on. New Mexico is stunning and I look forward to the day when I return.

Route 66 neon sign

Route 66 neon sign. Albuquerque, NM.


Dancers in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Yucca and white sands national monument.

Yucca at sunrise. White Sands National Monument.

Stuff I Like This Month

Tuner Photography

Tuner Photography website.

1. Sony Australia has a funny new campaign making fun of us who use DSLR cameras. Even though I love my DSLRs, I have to admit that these videos are very funny. Here’s a link:

2. Winston Hall continues to create excellent video training resources. In addition to his excellent video series on the Nikon D800, he now has video training on:

  • Lightroom 4 Image Editing
  • High Dynamic Range
  • Nikon Capture NX2 Editing

Check out Winston’s full line of training videos at Tuner Photography.

3. I might have mentioned this before in a previous newsletter, but Photography BB magazine continues to produce a great monthly magazine for the iOS platform (iPad, iPod, iPhone). Best of all it is free. Subscribe to their email for notice whenever they release a new issue. Here’s the link:

September GOAL Assignment: Finding Faces

Face in the rock. Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.

Face in the rock. Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico.

Coat hanger face.

Coat hanger face.

Your last GOAL (Get Out And Learn) Assignment was a whimsical task to find faces in every-day situations. My purpose for giving this task was to challenge you to look beyond what you normally see and look deeper to find something else of interest. Here are a few of the images I took during my own Finding Faces photo adventure.

Hot air balloon face.

Face on a hot air balloon. Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

Face in the leaves.

Face in the leaves.

November GOAL Assignment: Symmetry

‘Tis the season for symmetry. Over this next month, your GOAL Assignment is to look for symmetry in your compositions. I want you to photograph subjects in nature or in the city that are balanced from left to right or top to bottom. Try to create images that look similar or even the exactly the same on both sides of the subject. You have my permission to break the rule of thirds compositional standards for this Get Out And Learn assignment.

Above the neve.

Above the neve. Quito, Ecuador.

Book Review: Exposed, Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer



Michael Clark is well known for his beautiful adventure sports photography appearing in advertisements all around the world. I’ve followed his career for a number years and it has been fun to watch his business grow as he continues to pursue his photographic passions. Michael’s clients include some of the biggest names in the industry including Red Bull, Nikon, Apple, Adobe, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Outside and Wenger. He also runs adventure photography workshops to some beautiful locations and has recently started running surfing photography workshops in Hawaii. Sounds like a pretty good gig if you ask me!

Michael’s newest book, titled Exposed, Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer, is aimed at showing readers what it is like to work as a professional photography in the adventure sports industry. His goal is to take us behind the scenes on 13 of his photo shoots to places as far flung as Patagonia, the Alps, Tahiti, Great Salt Lake, and even the photo studio. Each chapter shows the top images he created on these adventures, as well as the step-by-step post-processing work he did in Lightroom and Photoshop before submitting the images to the client.

Each chapter goes through an introduction explaining the requirements from the client, then tells the story of the shoot. Next, he covers all the gear used for the images including cameras, lighting equipment, and technical gear. Finally, he ends each section with his postproduction workflow, including screenshots and before/after examples. In fact, the book includes a CD-ROM with sample images that allow the reader to work along with the text to learn Michael’s method of post processing. This is a nice touch that I know many readers will appreciate.

One of my favorite stories in the book is in Chapter 3 when he describes his experiences photographing the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race. Michael talks about how miserable the conditions were and how he even took an unplanned swim in the ocean with his camera gear shooting the event. He tells a great tale of fighting hypothermia, facing utter exhaustion, getting lost, being found, and eating sea urchin sandwiches. Michael uses this photo assignment (and many others throughout the book) to show how hard it is to succeed as a professional photographer. The amount of dedication and work required to complete the job often seems insurmountable.

It is clear from Michael’s book that clients hire him because of his dedication to the craft as well as his work ethic. He’s a great photographer and is gifted at telling his story of living the life of a professional photographer. It is clear that it isn’t an easy life and he states in the last chapter, “I’m not trying to talk anyone out of pursuing photography as a career if that is what you really want to do. But know this: to make it in this profession, you must want it more than almost anything else in life.”

So, who is this book for? I suggest that it will appeal to two types of people. One is the photographer looking to start a business, who wants a first-hand account of the trials and tribulations involved in running a modern digital photography studio. The second is the photographer who wants to improve their skillset by learning Michael’s methods of field techniques and post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop. Michael succeeds in satisfying both contingents in his book.

Exposed is 275 pages and printed in full color. Published by New Riders, you can purchase Exposed at Amazon here: Exposed, Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer.

See more of Michael’s work at

Book Review: Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4, A Photographer’s Handbook

Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4, A Photographer's Handbook.

Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4, A Photographer’s Handbook.

Author Stephen Laskevitch has taught for almost three decades. During this time, he has designed digital workflows for hundreds of photographers and companies. He knows his digital stuff and recently released a new book to share his knowledge on Photoshop and Lightroom, titled Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4, A Photographer’s Handbook.

A few years ago, I read Stephen’s previous book on the same topic, but for Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3. I was duly impressed then, and now with the release of CS6 and LR4, Stephen has revamped his text to show photographers how to create an efficient workflow between the two programs.

Any modern digital photographer knows how difficult it is to create a workflow with all the software available. Do you start in Photoshop? Do you edit in Lightroom? Where does Adobe Bridge fit? Literally multiple times per week I receive questions on workflow from people around the world. They want to know how to make all this software work together with the minimum amount of effort.

The truth is that piecing together a workflow isn’t easy, but Stephen’s book guides you through the process with the smallest amount of fuss. He is very good at communicating his ideas with clear and concise thought. Steve does a very good job of explaining the elements of the programs that matter most to us photographers. For example, he spends a full three chapters of the book on just setting up preferences in Lightroom, Photoshop and Bridge with the aim of having the software operate at their most efficient settings.

The book is broken down into two main sections. Section 1 is dedicated to “The Setup” and Section 2 is dedicated to “The Workflow.” Each chapter contains sub-sections dedicated to showing how the topic relates to the specific software. In fact, the book has flags printed on the edges of the pages to show if the discussion topic relates to Photoshop, Lightroom or Bridge. This makes navigating the book extremely easy, and greatly helps with understanding where each software package fits in the workflow.

For example, the chapter dedicated to importing images breaks down the process you might use with either Lightroom or with Bridge. He discusses the pros and cons of each approach while also using well-designed figures to demonstrate the method. As I said earlier, Steve is clear and succinct with his descriptions, so following along is a breeze.

The book spends adequate time talking through details such as how to manage different versions of an image, importing, organizing, using stars/labels, color correction, contrast correction, local adjustments, cloning, spot fixes, video, printing, web and much more. The book isn’t designed to be the complete authority on everything you can do in Photoshop or Lightroom or Bridge, but rather it is designed to show you how to use these programs together to create a cohesive workflow. The book accomplishes its intended purpose very well.

I’ve been doing this digital photography stuff for quite a long time and regularly teach it in my workshops. That said, I learned quite a few new tips and tricks that I’ve since added to my own digital workflow. I recommend this book for anyone who needs to understand how Lightroom, Photoshop and Bridge work together. Buy the book, your workflow will thank you!

Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 is published by Rocky Nook and is 327 pages. The book is printed in full color with copious illustrations including screen shots of software and photo examples.

Buy at Amazon: Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4, A Photographer’s Handbook.

Check out Steve’s business here: Luminous Works Training a & Consulting.

Christmas Shopping Guide

Here’s my list of photo gear that I think is worthy of adding to the Visual Adventures Christmas Shopping Guide. The gear is shown in no significant order, other than the fact that I put the Nikon D800 at the top of the list. I am really enjoying this camera and highly recommend it to other serious photographers.

The gear on the list represents equipment that I use, have direct experience with, or want to purchase myself (Nikon 70-200mm f/4). I know you’ll love the gear as much as I do! Enjoy shopping.

Nikon D800


Lightroom 4
Lightroom 4 box 






Nikon D600

Nikon D600

Image courtesy Nikon Corporation.


Nikon 1 V2
Nikon 1 V2


Nikon 70-200mm f/4
Nikon 70-200mm f/4


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8


Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5 – 5.6G


Workshop and Business Updates


Our Visual Adventures website is the new hub of our business operation. You’ll find links to everything we do including our books, workshops, products, newsletter, blog and photo galleries. For now, our previous website will stay put in its present form, but we won’t be adding new content there.


We have started adding new Nikonians Academy workshops to the 2013 schedule and already have dates/cities scheduled for Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, New Jersery, Iceland, and Africa. Expect to see more cities and dates announced in the next few weeks.

Camera and Flash Workshops

Our Nikonians Academy camera and flash photography workshops have all been completely revamped to include the Nikon D800, Nikon D4, Nikon D600, Nikon D7000 cameras as well as the Nikon SB-910 and SB-700 flashes. Our workshops include:
– Master Nikon D800/D4/D700/D3/D3s/D3x
– Master Nikon D600/D7000
– Master Nikon D300/D300s
– Master Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash

Master Adobe Lightroom 4

Adobe Lightroom 4 is one of the best software programs out there for digital photographers. We’ve updated our Lightroom workshops to show the best of LR4, so if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to leverage the power of Lightroom in your workflow, then this is the right workshop. I’ll be running these all around the USA through the Nikonians Academy:

Lightroom 4 Essentials (


Join me on a photographic journey to the land of fire and ice. I’ve set up this trip with renowned photographer and trip leader Tim Vollmer to show off the best of Iceland in the summer. We’ll be photographing birds, landscapes, cities and villages as we travel in our own private vehicles around the stunning country. I’ve limited the number of participants to 10 so photographers can get the most out of this adventure.
Find more information here:


We only have four more seats available for the November 2013 photo safari to Tanzania. This will be our fifth Tanzanian photo safari and I would love to have you come along to experience the adventure of Africa.

Here’s the link for more information:

Staying Current

You can stay current with our new workshop by watching for news to be posted at the blog (, on Facebook (, Twitter ( and Google+ (

Custom Group Trips

This August, I ran a custom trip for six photographers who wanted to improve their nature photography. We spent a few days in a beautiful national park working on photography techniques and learning new skills. Next year, I’ll be running a custom trip for a small group of people to Tanzania.

If you have a group and want to arrange a custom photo trip similar to this, contact us and we’ll put together an incredible itinerary just for you. I run custom trips for people all around the world on topics ranging from nature photography, landscape photography, urban photography, location portraits, and just about anything else you can imagine. Simply email or call and we’ll give you all the details for how to go about creating the trip of your dreams.

Private Tutoring and Consulting

Every 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, Photoshop, Aperture, Capture NX2, wedding photography, 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.

If you have questions about private tutoring or business consulting, call (253) 851-9054 or visit our site here: .


Thanks for taking the time to read this month’s newsletter. I always enjoy hearing from you, so feel free to drop us a line at any time. Also, feel free to refer your friends and family to our newsletter pages.

As always, if you need more photo encouragement during the month, be sure to check out for regular updates, news, tips and commentary. Also, I encourage you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Best regards,

Mike Hagen
Visual Adventures (previously Out There Images)
PO Box 1966, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
twitter: @MikeJHagen
email: [email protected]
office: 253-851-9054
mobile: 360-750-1103
fax: 206-984-1817

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