Nikon CLS Books Have Arrived and We’re #2 at Amazon.com

We just received our first preliminary shipment of The Nikon Creative Lighting System 2nd Edition books and we’ll be sending out signed copies next week to those of you who ordered in advance. As an author, it’s always fun to get your hands on an actual copy of a book after so many months of love, toil, and frustration. To see the book in person brings great joy to my heart!

Shipments of The Nikon Creative Lighting System are starting to arrive. For those of you who ordered in advance, you'll receive your copy shortly.

Shipments of The Nikon Creative Lighting System are starting to arrive. For those of you who ordered in advance, you'll receive your copy shortly.

Our sales rank at Amazon is #2 for both categories of Photography Lighting and Photography Gear. In the photo lighting category, we’re behind some guy named Scott Kelby. That’s tongue-in-cheek by the way … Kelby is one of the icons in the business and a really great guy to boot. We’re honored to have him as #1.

Can anybody beat that Scott Kelby guy?

Can anybody beat that Scott Kelby guy?

In the Photo Gear category, we’re behind Bryan Peterson’s wonderful book titled Understanding Exposure. I’ve personally recommended his book to hundreds and hundreds of people and think he has created a truly great book on exposure theory. Bryan Peterson is another icon in the photo industry and I’m proud to even be on the same list as him.

Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure is a fantastic read for anyone who needs to better understand photographic exposure.

Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure is a fantastic read for anyone who needs to better understand photographic exposure.

I sincerely thank each of you for ordering the book and I hope it helps you learn about your Nikon flashes.

To order a signed copy go here: Signed copy of The Nikon Creative Lighting System

To order from Amazon.com, follow this affiliate link: The Nikon Creative Lighting System

Keep shooting!

Two Great Nikon Related Articles

Here are two resources for you Nikon shooters out there wanting to learn more about the Nikon D4 and the D800/D800E.

The first is a BTS (behind the scenes) video put together by Corey Rich from his new short film “Why”. The video shows how he created the film as well as all kinds of gear details that us gear heads love! Lenses, computers, helicopters, cameras and tech.

HOW of WHY from Corey Rich on Vimeo.

The next is an article by Michael Reichmann of Luminous-Landscape.com about choosing between the Nikon D800 and the D800E. I continue to receive questions every day about the difference between the cameras and which camera to buy. Michael’s article addresses many of these questions. Here’s the link: Luminous Landscape D800/D800E Comparison

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Think Tank Photo Test Drive Program

I have a quite a few Think Tank camera bags and I highly recommend them. Their staff just contacted me to announce a new program that lets you test drive their gear before actually buying it. Here’s the link to the test drive program:

www.thinktankphoto.com/test-drive-program.aspx

Test Drive one of Think Tank Photo’s new Modular Rotation Systems free for 28 days.  If you like it, keep it and your credit card will be charged.  If not, return it to Think Tank no charge. The Modular Rotation System is the choice of working professionals who shoot sports, weddings, nature or any situation where the need to stay mobile and rapid gear changes are essential.

The Modular Component Set™ V2.0 consists of two individual lens changer pouches, a flash pouch and an accessory pouch that lock to or slide around any Think Tank Photo belt. Since the pouches are modular, the carrying system can be reconfigured to match any assignment, under any condition.

The Modular Skin Set V2.0 consists of two individual lens changer pouches, a flash pouch and an accessory pouch that lock to or slide around a Think Tank Photo belt. Components are lightweight, compressible and easily collapsible. Perfect for traveling.The “Sound Silencer” feature adds stealth by eliminating hook-and-loop tearing noises.

This offer ends on March 31, 2012 or when100 of each modular set has been reserved for the Test Drive program.

* This offer is only available within the United States because of the shipping costs of delivering the product from and to the U.S.

Think Tank modular system. Test drive before you buy!

Think Tank modular system. Test drive before you buy!

March 2012 Newsletter is Posted

The March 2012 Out There Images newsletter is posted!
http://www.outthereimages.com/12_03_newsletter.html

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News this month:

- D800 or D4?
- Two openings for Galapagos
- Two New Books Shipping This Month
- Book Giveaway
- Stuff I Like This Month
- February GOAL Assignment: Purposeful Distortion
- March GOAL Assignment: Walking Zoom
- Digital Tidbits: What Camera Settings Affect RAW?
- Book Review: Ten Photo Assignments to develop your photographic skills
- Workshop and Business Updates

http://www.outthereimages.com/12_03_newsletter.html

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The Nikon Creative Lighting System - 2nd Edition

Our newest book, the 2nd Edition of the very popular The Nikon Creative Lighting System, is about to hit the shelves. The update includes brand-new chapter content on the SB-700 and SB-910 flashes. Of course, the book also has excellent chapters on using the SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, and R1C1 Flashes. At almost 300 pages, the it is chock full of detailed information that will help you understand your Nikon wireless flash system.

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The Nikon Creative Lighting System book was designed to help Nikon flash users wrap their heads around the amazing capabilities of Nikon’s new breed of flashes. The writing style is simple and straight forward, while still providing detailed instruction on setting up features such as wireless mode, SU-4 mode, TTL BL mode and much, much more. One entire chapter is dedicated to setups in the field, showing you flash and camera settings so you’ll be able to duplicate the results for yourself. There are 17 chapters covering topics such as flash operation, camera settings for flash, flash theory, batteries, beeps, buttons and everything in-between!

Order an autographed copy here: Out There Images Book Webpage

Here’s a link to the RockyNook press release: The Nikon Creative Lighting System

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The Grove at Dusk

Near Hollywood in Los Angeles is a great shopping center called The Grove. Last week, after running some workshops for the Nikonians Academy, I spent an hour or so taking photos in the area at dusk. As I walked around, I enjoyed listening to a live blues band and watched young couples stare deeply into each other’s eyes. There’s still magic in Hollywood!

Statue at the Grove. Dusk.

Statue at the Grove. Dusk.

Blues band at The Grove.

Blues band at The Grove.

Movie theater at the Grove. Dusk.

Movie theater at the Grove. Dusk.

Sunglasses in a storefront at The Grove.

Sunglasses in a storefront at The Grove.

The Importance of Black in Monochrome Images

How do you create drama in black and white photos? Read below for some tips.

How do you create drama in black and white photos? Read below for some tips.

I love converting my images to black and white. There is a timeless quality and a sense of abstraction that we just can’t see with traditional color photography. Many black and white images are greatly improved by having areas of dense black in the composition. These solid black areas anchor the photo and can add drama to otherwise boring images.

For this blog post, I want to show you how to create a strong monochrome image while still keeping solid black areas in the composition. In this example of a small cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains NP, my initial image (below) didn’t have much detail in the interior walls. I knew that I wanted to brighten up the interior, but I also knew that this would cause the image to lose drama.

Here's the original shot from my camera. The interior walls are dark and devoid of any significant detail.

Here's the original shot from my camera. The interior walls are dark and devoid of any significant detail.

My first step was to brighten up these walls and bring out detail. One of my favorite tools for this is a plug-in called Detail Extractor, found in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4). Since my image was already opened in Photoshop, I activated the CEP 4 plugin called Detail Extractor and moved the sliders until I was happy with the amount of detail in the wood and the brightness of the interior. The shot below demonstrates the enhanced image after Detail Extractor.

Here's the image after bringing out details using the Detail Enhancer tool in Nik Color Efex Pro 4.

Here's the image after bringing out details using the Detail Extractor tool in Nik Color Efex Pro 4.

The next step was to convert the image to black and white. There are as many ways to convert an image to black and white as there are photographers in the world! One of my favorite software packages is Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. I really enjoy the wide range of adjustments in this tool, especially a slider adjustment called “Amplify Blacks” found in the Contrast area. This slider allows you to maintain the tonalities (brightness) of the mid tones and highlights, while adding a significant amount of density in the blacks. It is similar to adjusting the “shadows” slider down in Lightroom/Aperture, but it is even more targeted to the very darkest tones in the image.

Here's a screen shot from Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. You can see the "Amplify Blacks" slider on the right side of the screen under the Contrast section. I use this slider all the time to create the dense black areas, while still maintaining detail in the mid tones and highlights.

Here's a screen shot from Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. You can see the "Amplify Blacks" slider on the right side of the screen under the Contrast section. I use this slider all the time to create the dense black areas, while still maintaining detail in the mid tones and highlights.

My final two steps were to add a border and do a bit of noise reduction. I used the border creation tool in Silver Efex Pro 2 to get the look I was after. To reduce the noise, I used the Nik Dfine plugin for Photoshop. The final image is shown below.

Here's the final image with the border and Nik Dfine noise reduction applied.

Here's the final image with the border and Nik Dfine noise reduction applied.

For your next black and white conversion, I encourage you to add areas of solid black in order to create a sense of drama. This approach doesn’t work for every image, but it can breathe life into an otherwise boring shot.

Easy Settings for a Family Group Shot

Seems like every time we have family gatherings, those of us with cameras are always called into service to take the ubiquitous family photo. Here’s a question from a reader today:

Hi Mike,

I have an opportunity for all my family to be here next weekend and I was wanting to try to take some family portraits. I was wondering if you had any tips shooting a large group? Around 15 people 6 of which are children and 9 adults. I’m using a D90 I have a couple of lens, 18-55mm and 55-200mm both are Nikkor VR lenses. I have a SB600 flash but hopefully we can go outside. What settings do you recommend? Also any tip as to how to line up the group?

Thanks for your help

- J.S.

Here's a group portrait of a bunch of cousins taken during a Thanksgiving family get-together. I used each of the tips included below to get this quick shot.

Here's a group portrait of a bunch of cousins taken during a Thanksgiving family get-together. I used each of the tips included below to get this quick shot.

ANSWER:

Hi J.S. -

My suggestion is to keep the photo very simple. I wouldn’t worry too much about adding a bunch of lighting since this adds overall complexity. Also, since you only have one small strobe, it will be difficult to create a full studio lighting arrangement anyways. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Move family to the shaded side of the house or yard. That will keep contrast down.
2. If you want, you can add a little bit of fill flash with the SB-600, but dial the power down so it is just adding a tiny kick of light to brighten the eyes.
3. Pose the group so their heads form simple triangles or diamonds.
4. Turn shoulders towards the middle of the group. That keeps people looking thin. Don’t pose them with shoulders square to the camera.
5. Use a focal length of about 50mm or longer if you can. Don’t take the picture at 18mm since that will cause major distortion.
6. Set the camera for Matrix Metering, Aperture Priority and about f8.

Thats it. Use these tips for simple and fast group pics.

Corey Rich Adventure Video With the Nikon D7000

Corey Rich's adventure video in the extreme Alaskan wilderness was created with the Nikon D7000, 10.5mm fisheye, 10-24mm and 70-200mm.

Corey Rich's adventure video in the extreme Alaskan wilderness was created with the Nikon D7000, 10.5mm fisheye, 10-24mm and 70-200mm.

If you’ve ever questioned the capabilities of the Nikon D7000, then I encourage you to see this video that Corey Rich recently produced in the extreme Alaskan wilderness. His documentary is a testament to hard work, great vision, and more hard work! Just watching the video made me tired.

Click this for the direct link to the Nikon D7000 video by Corey Rich.

Corey Rich’s Website at www.coreyrich.com.

Visceral Morning at Camp of the Cascades

Reeds and reflections at dawn. Nikon D7000, 18-105mm kit lens, handheld.

Reeds and reflections at dawn. Nikon D7000, 18-105mm kit lens, handheld.

Last weekend I attended a retreat at Camp of the Cascades, near Yelm Washington. It was a short event where we arrived at 6pm on Friday evening, then departed by 3pm the next day, but I still brought my camera to see if I might be able to capture a few pics of the area. On Saturday morning, I woke up before dawn and went on a quick 40 minute jog around the lake. I brought along a Nikon D7000 with an 18-105mm kit lens and took off into the darkness with my head lamp. Along the way, I photographed the morning sky and the trees along the lake.

Lake reflections at dawn. Since I was hand-holding my Nikon D7000, I used a high ISO and bracketed three shots. I merged them together in Nik HDR Efex Pro.

Lake reflections at dawn. Since I was hand-holding my Nikon D7000, I used a high ISO and bracketed three shots. I merged them together in Nik HDR Efex Pro.

Although the shots from the morning adventure might not be the best I’ve ever taken, the experience was visceral. Before the morning light opened up detail in the shadows, I could hear loons rapidly flying by in the darkness. As they landed on the water, their whoosh made an eerie sound that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. A few minutes later, as I was running the perimeter of the lake, my headlamp highlighted the leg of a freshly killed deer on the trail. There was hair and blood all over the place and it was clear that a mountain lion had taken this deer within the last few hours. If the hair on my neck wasn’t standing up on end earlier, then it sure was now! My eyes darted to the left and right trying to figure out if I was in immediate danger. I found nothing so I continued on my journey while adrenaline caused my heart to race.

I never found the mountain lion, nor did I capture any shots of the loons, but I did get a chance to experience creation through my camera that morning. For me, that’s a big part of what photography is all about.

Boats in the early morning light. I hand-held this shot and exposed for the sky. Then, I opened up the shadows using Photoshop's "Shadows and Highlights" filter.

Boats in the early morning light. I hand-held this shot and exposed for the sky. Then, I opened up the shadows using Photoshop's "Shadows and Highlights" filter.