Venus Transit

Last week we had a wonderful opportunity to photograph Venus as it crossed between planet Earth and the sun. I photographed it here through the clouds with a Nikon D7000, Nikon 200-400mm f4, and a 1.4x TC. I didn’t have a Neutral Density filter handy, so I waited until the clouds obscured the sun in order to get the shot. Even so, I was shooting at ISO 100, f45 and 1/8000 second.

Venus as it transits the sun.

Venus as it transits the sun.

Abstracts from the Tacoma Museum of Glass

When I need a shot of creative energy, I head over to the Tacoma Museum of Glass. The colors, shapes, and patterns always clear my mind and give me that much-needed quick burst of photo inspiration. These images are from the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Chihuly bridge of glass. Mike Hagen - Out There Images, Inc.

Spring Clouds and Adirondack Chairs

Last week, my wife and I were downtown in Gig Harbor, WA at a party and the group was trying hard to enjoy one of our first quasi-good days of the year. Trouble is, those pesky clouds kept getting in the way of the sun. The sun would peek out from the clouds and we would all shuttle outside to bask in the rays. As soon as the sun hid from view, everyone shuttled back indoors to the warmth of the beach house.

Here’s a pic of the front yard and the empty adirondack chairs around the fire pit. I think the image perfectly conveys life in the Northwest. We love our beautiful scenery and great beaches but chilly weather keeps us away.

Since the contrast was pretty extreme, I shot a five-frame exposure bracket in the Nikon D800 then merged the images together in Nik HDR Efex Pro. Converted the image to black and white in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Adirondack chairs and Gig Harbor bay. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f2.8, five image HDR merge.

Adirondack chairs and Gig Harbor bay. Nikon D800, 14-24mm f2.8, five image HDR merge.

What’s Your Impossible Shot?

Basketball hoop from a kid's perspective.

Basketball hoop from a kid's perspective.

The other day I was out shooting baskets with my kids, nephews, and their friends. Our basketball hoop is adjustable from 6′ to 10′ so my daughter and her cousins kept it at 6′ so they could make the shots. I raised it up to 10′ and one of the kids stopped attempting to make baskets because it was too high. I encouraged him of course, but that didn’t do much to sway him because he had already made the decision that the shot was impossible.

Just to gain perspective, I got down on my knees and looked up at the basket from the same head height. Sure enough, it looked waaaaay far away from the kids’ perspective. I told him that even though the shot looked impossible, he should take the shot anyways. What did he have to lose? If he failed, he could try again. In fact, he could keep trying until he finally actually made the basket. Even if it took days or weeks or months, there was no reason he couldn’t keep trying.

A lot of photographers approach their craft in the same way as the kid did in this story. We keep the basket low because it is easy. We forget that many of our best photographs were created after much effort and practice. I encourage you to hold yourself to a higher standard. Photograph the subjects that are difficult and keep working at it. Once you succeed, you’ll never look back.

Nikon D800 Mirror Lockup Without Shutter Release Cable

The more I use the Nikon D800, the more impressed I am with all of its capabilities. A new feature that I’ve recently discovered is using the shutter delay mode in conjunction with the Mirror Lock Up mode.

Macro photography is one of my favorite subjects to shoot and I typically use a shutter release cable in conjunction with the Mirror Lockup (M-Up) mode to ensure the sharpest photographs. Now, with the Nikon D800, you don’t necessarily need to use a cable release to activate the mirror lock up sequence. The D800 has a new menu item in CSM d4 that allows you to set a three second delay from when you press the shutter release button to when the camera actually takes the photo. If you combine this menu setting with the M-Up (mirror lock up) function, then you don’t necessarily need to trigger the exposure with the cable in order to reduce camera vibration. The three second delay allows you to press the shutter release button on the camera, then the camera waits three seconds before taking the picture. Therefore, any vibration from your finger will dissipate over those three seconds, resulting in a sharp image. This is a great hidden feature that I know you’re going to enjoy using. here’s a video to go along with the above description.

Vimeo direct link: http://vimeo.com/41457400

Hot Sauce and Salt

Hot sauce and salt. Photo taken at El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant in Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Processed in Nik HDR Efex Pro, Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0.

Hot sauce and salt. Photo taken at El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant in Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Processed in Nik HDR Efex Pro, Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0.

As a photographer, I often use anything and everything as inspiration for my creativity. My camera is almost always over my shoulder, so I’m constantly on the lookout for interesting compositions. Not too long ago, I was out to dinner with my family and found a simple composition of table salt, pepper, and hot sauce. I set my Nikon D800 down on the table, turned on live view, and snapped a couple pics at f2.8 in order to create a narrow depth of field.

I like the look and I like the simplicity. Photos like this might not win the top prize in a photo contest, but they keep my mind thinking and engaged. My encouragement to you is to do the same. Take your own photo of hot sauce and salt to see where it takes your creative mind.

Here are a couple of other shots from the same evening with my family.

Kayaks at Jerisich Park, Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Processed in Photoshop, Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0.

Kayaks at Jerisich Park, Gig Harbor, WA. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Processed in Photoshop, Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0.

Daffodils at dusk. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Processed in Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0.

Daffodils at dusk. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Processed in Photoshop and Nik Color Efex Pro 2.0.

Early Morning Gig Harbor Panorama with Nikon D800

Here’s a nice shot from Gig Harbor, WA yesterday morning. I was running a private workshop with a photographer from Reno, NV and we were photographing the bay during blue hour. I set my camera for Fluorescent WB, ISO 200, f/8 and a 30 second exposure. Beautiful!

Gig Harbor panorama. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Gitzo CF tripod. 30 second exposure @ f/8.

Gig Harbor panorama. Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8. Gitzo CF tripod. 30 second exposure @ f/8.

D800 Ultimate Test - Killer Whales From One Mile with 24-70mm Lens

Last night, I went out to a local waterfront park with my family for a Sunday evening picnic. We were eating our sandwiches and skipping rocks when I spotted a pod of Orca about a mile away. I always have a camera with me, and this time around I had the Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm lens. Photographing a killer whale a mile away with a 24-70mm lens is an exercise in absurdity. However, I snapped a shot anyways just to see what I’d get. I figured that the D800 might have enough pixels to barely resolve the whales that were tiny dots in the distance.

So, how’d the D800 do? See for yourself…

Here's the shot right out of the camera. Nikon D800 with 24-70mm lens, zoomed to 70mm. Can you find the Orca?

Here's the shot right out of the camera. Nikon D800 with 24-70mm lens, zoomed to 70mm. Can you find the Orca? Trust me, they're in the photo somewhere.

Here's the 100% crop. Not bad! These Orca were over a mile away. One more reason to really like the D800.

Here's the 100% crop from the picture above. Not bad! These Orca were over a mile away. This is one more reason to really like the Nikon D800.

April 2012 Newsletter Posted

The Out There Images April 2012 newsletter is posted here: www.outthereimages.com/newsletter

Topics this month:

- Nikon D800 and D4 Setup Guides
- New Workshops Posted and New Books Are Selling Well
- Stuff I Like This Month
- March GOAL Assignment: Walking Zoom
- April GOAL Assignment: Window Light Portraits and Book Giveaway
- Product Review: Joby Gorilla Pod
- Digital Tidbits: How to Fix a Red Face in Nikon Capture NX
- Workshop and Business Updates

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Africa Slideshow for Lighthouse Elementary School

A big thank you to Lighthouse Christian School and Ms. Frohlich’s 1st grade class for inviting me to present photos from my Tanzanian photography adventures.

The kids from Ms. Frohlich’s class sent me a bunch of thank you letters and they were very sweet. One of them read, “Thank you Mr. Hagen, from. Nathan. you HAD the best sho I sen yet! The anaml i Liked the best is the cheetah and leopard.” My favorite letter read, “I rily like your fotows I esPeshily liked the anemels.”

Aw shucks.

I am grateful for the school’s eagerness to see these images and it sure was fun to hear the oohs and ahhs from all the kids. Showing them the wonders of our incredible planet was joyful and I can’t wait to do it again.

I encourage all of the photographers reading this blog share your photos with others as often as possible. If you don’t share your imagery, then your beautiful pictures stay locked up in our disk drives for no one else to enjoy. Your craft and vision needs to see the light of day, so get out there and show it off.

Thank you notes from Mrs. Frohlich's 1st grade class.

Thank you notes from Mrs. Frohlich's 1st grade class.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the show.

Who would have thought that a few hundred elementary school kids could make a man nervous? Tough crowd.

Who would have thought that a few hundred elementary school kids could make a man nervous? It was a tough crowd.

Mrs. Frohlich and her 1st grade class.

Mrs. Frohlich and her 1st grade class.

Mrs. Frohlich's class is in session!

Mrs. Frohlich's class is in session!