News from Rod Barbee Photography
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October 2011 Rod Barbee Photography Newsletter
Greetings
Summer? Summer? Where did you go? Oh, you mean that intermittent sun and warm weather in the last few weeks was it?
I guess that means the wind and rain and gloom we've been getting lately means fall is here. Boy, that was quick.
Summer, you're such a tease.
2012 workshop schedule
 
I've posted my 2012 workshop schedule. You'll see that I've not yet created the individual pages for each workshop. But I'm hoping to get those done in the next week or so. You'll also see that some trips are tentative, which mainly means that the specific dates aren't set yet and may shift a day or two either way. (Many of you know that my teaching partner Don Mammoser is out of the country. This makes it a little difficult to coordinate some things. But we're getting there.) And you'll also notice that some prices are still to be determined. We're still waiting on quotes from guides and such.

Also, in 2012 I'll be co-leading several workshops with my friend Kim Hoshal. Some of those, the ones in the southwest, will be run through her workshop business so payment will go to her. The others will be run through mine and handled as I normally do. Anyway, you'll see some familiar trips like Olympic and Rainier, some older trips I've not done for awhile, like slot canyons/Monument Valley and Canadian Rockies, and some new trips like White Sands. So pop on over and take a look. Both Kim and I will be happy to take deposits!

Iceland video
 
Next year's Iceland tour is starting to fill. But there are still spaces available. So to further entice you into joining us on this adventure to one of the world's most incredible landscapes, I've posted a video on my Iceland page made by our photo guide Tim Vollmer. And if you want to see more great images from Iceland, visit Tim's web page and Facebook page.
Nikon 28-300
 
So far so good. I'm liking my new Nikon 28-300 VR AF-S lens. It's not the lightest lens in the world but it feels solid, the AF is responsive, and the VR (vibration reduction) works well.
I'm not one to take pictures of brick walls or newsprint just to test out a lens, you can find plenty of that on the web and I did read some of those reviews. I prefer to just use the lens and see if I can get usable results. And this lens does the trick. My other lenses that cover the range this one does (28-70 f/2.8, 80-200 f/2.8, 300 f/4) are no doubt sharper and faster, but their combined weight is probably five times the 28-300 (and probably 4-5 times the cost). And I really like not having to change lenses.
The image above was made with the 28-300 at 300mm, f/6.3, 1/125 second and handheld using Vibration Reduction.
Using Off-Camera Flash
 
How often do you use flash? Me, I don't use it often at all. I'll use it for indoor shots at family gatherings by bouncing the flash off the ceiling. Or I'll use it to light up stuff I want to sell on Ebay by bouncing it off a piece of white foam core that I place above the items I'm photographing.
I don't use flash nearly enough, and I really admire photographers who know how to use it. But all that could change with a new e-book from Craft and Vision. These are the people putting out very inexpensive (so inexpensive there's no excuse not to get them) yet very informative and well done e-books. One of the latest is "Making Light" by Piet Van Den Eynde.
The author covers pretty much everything you need to know about using off-camera flash. He covers equipment, flash theory, and settings. He even shows the exact settings needed on Canon and Nikon cameras and flashes. He then goes through several scenarios describing how he used off-camera flash to create the images shown. He talks about matching the light from the flash to the ambient light as well as using inexpensive flash modifiers such as umbrellas.

What I really like about this book is that it shows you that anyone can make top quality flash images with just one flash and some inexpensive accessories. There isn't any fancy super expensive equipment needed. You don't need multiple flashes (though it looks like he'll have another e-book covering more advanced flash topics), you just need a few basic skills and tools.
And at $5 for this book, there's no excuse not to learn a little about off-camera flash photography.

John Beardsworth's List View Lightroom plug-in
 
Ok, this is cool. I've mentioned John Beardsworth's Lightroom plug-ins before. I use his File Size Calculator, which will tell you how much hard drive space a selection of images will take. This is really useful if you use the "Bucket" system for image archiving. I also have John's "Search, Replace, Append" plug-in which is invaluable when it comes to correcting the many typos I manage to insert into my image captions and other metadata. That plug-in will also create custom Lightroom metadata fields, something you can't do with Lightroom alone.

Just a couple of weeks ago my publisher wanted a separate caption list for images I sent in for my latest book project. Since Lightroom isn't (yet) the most robust Digital Asset Management program, I couldn't do this directly from Lightroom. Or so I thought. A quick internet search brought me to another of John's great plug-ins. It's called List View and what it does is display your Lightroom catalog images in, well, a list view. Not only that, it's highly customizable and you can output your metadata to an Excel file or an html file. You can see some screen shots here.
If you want a more versatile Lightroom, take a look at John's plug-ins. For me, they've all been well worth the money spent on them.

Nik Color Efex Pro 4.
 
Ok, this is cool too. I don't actually own this piece of software yet but I think it's only a matter of time (I do own HDR Efex Pro and love it).
I have installed the trial version and have started to play with it though. One thing I really like about Nik's products is its UPoint technology. With UPoint you can precisely target parts of an image for enhancement. In HDR Efex Pro this means I can pick a small area of a picture, say an over bright window, and reduce the exposure for just that area. Actually, for just that window. It really works well. In Color Efex Pro you can do the same thing, applying a filter effect to a selected area.
And like HDR Efex Pro (and other Nik products), you have a selection of presets from which to start.
What's new in Color Efex Pro is the ability to stack filters. Now you can add filters without having to first save, close, and then reopen the image in Color Efex Pro. You can toggle the filters on and off to get an idea of the effect from stacking. You can also save any filter combinations you use as a "recipe."

Hopefully by next year I'll have a Nik discount code I can give you to get 15% off on all their software. But while that's still in the works, I'll simply point you to my friend Jack Graham. As you've probably read here before, he and Bob Kulon produce the 18 Percent Gray Matter Photography Podcast. The latest podcast is an interview with Josh Haftel from Nik Software, talking all about the new Color Efex Pro 4. So head on over to their website, take a listen to the podcast, and if you decide to buy or upgrade, use their discount code.

Think Tank sale
 
If you're looking to get a new camera bag for yourself or a Christmas gift for that photographer on your list, Think Tank is currently running a 20% off sale on their Modular Components. In addition to the sale price, if you use this link and make a purchase of $50 or more you'll also get a free gift from Think Tank.
I actually just bought their Artificial Intelligence 15 laptop bag to go with my new laptop. The bag is well made and well thought out. It's nice and slim and will fit in the outside pocket of my ThinkTank Airport TakeOff rolling bag. It's so much nicer than my big, briefcase style laptop bag.
Thinking out of the HDR box
 
And a final thought.
I'm relatively new to using HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging. Of course I've known about it for years and until recently I would occasionally shoot some bracketed sequences thinking I might try HDR some day.
But over the last few months I've been using it more and more and looking for situations that lend themselves to HDR photography. You probably know the types of scenes: situations with a dark foreground and bright background; shooting from the inside of a building looking outside through a bright doorway or window; subjects in sun and shadow; industrial scenes with lots of detail but also lots of areas with shadows and bright spots. In short, I've been looking for situations in which the dynamic range of the scene before me exceeds the range that the camera is capable of recording in one exposure.

But at my last workshop on the Oregon coast, one of the participants was showing HDR images made from bracketed exposures of scenes that could have been captured in a single exposure. At first I wondered why someone would do such a thing. Then I saw the results. By using programs such as Nik's HDR Efex Pro, you can extract more details, have more options in the dynamic range you wish to show, and you have a whole slew of artistic choices. You can make the scene look realistic or you can give it an old weathered look. You can enhance colors or mute them. Basically, you have many more creative options in how you want to present your subject. And it's fun.
So I gave it a try and made some bracketed shots of stacked crab pots. Normally this is the kind of shot I'd make in just one exposure. After all, the scene is evenly lit and the camera can easily capture the entire range of light.
For this image I chose to emphasize the detail and color, giving it more a "tactile" look. It's an interesting first attempt and I'll probably go back and try some other settings for a different look and feel.
I always say that workshops are a great way to learn and that when you take one, you often learn a lot just from the other participants. Including a new way of thinking about HDR.

 

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Rod Barbee Photography | 172 Robin Lane | Port Ludlow | WA | 98365