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June 26, 2012

July, August schedule feature new workshops, outdoor adventures

Nikonians-Academy-Update.jpgNikonians Academy Director Mike Hagen is on the road this week (Most recently in Yosemite), and he found time to let us know how the coming months are shaping up. The highlights include outdoor adventures in Alaska and the Eastern Sierra/Owens Valley and a four-day series of our popular Mastering series coming to Canada.

Here is Mike’s report:

Michael Mariant has three California workshops in July and August.
Timelapse_250.jpgHe will be leading the Timelapse Photography workshop in San Francisco, Video and Cinematography workshop in Santa Barbara, and the 4-day Eastern Sierra/Owens Valley adventure (starting August 9).

Get ready in Vancouver
Canadians - We are running four days of workshops in Vancouver, BC August 22-25. Your workshop leader will be Steve Simon.

--Master the D7000/D90/D80
--Master the D300/D300s In Depth
--Master the D700/D3 In Depth
--Master the D800/D4 In Depth

Posted by flashdeadline at 1:35 AM

June 23, 2012

Nikonians Behind the Lens #15

btl.jpgOn this edition of Behind the Lens, Ray interviews American photographer David Akoubian.
David has been working as a writer and nature photographer for many years and has taught workshops with several different companies including the Great American Photography Weekends and the Showcase School.

Download Nikonians Behind the Lens #15 (NPC-BTL-2012-06-23.mp3;
26:10; 23.91MB; MP3 format)

Talking Points for Behind the Lens #15

-Discovery of photography for David
-Learning about nature photography
-Photographers who were influential for David
-First job in photography
-Bear Woods Photography
-David and his wife meet
-Hints for the new photographer
-Improving artistic vision
-Creating the image
-Equipment and its importance
-Lenses of Choice

Check out David Akoubian
Tamron Lenses

Posted by rayvaldovinos at 5:13 PM

Polarizing filter in digital photography

CPL filter.jpgAs have been said in article about filters in digital photography last week, polarizing filter is a must have accessory for every photographer. Firstly because it has got usage across all fields of photography and secondly because its effect is very difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce in Photoshop. 

So what is polarizing filter and what it does? I don't want to bore you with complicated physics of light and stuff, so simple explained, polarizing filter is a filter which allows only some rays of light from the spectrum through and the rest reflects out. At the same time, it regulate chaotic rays of light spectrum to much cleaner flow.  For example light reflected from shiny surfaces such as water, glass and metal is polarized and by using polarizing filter, this polarized light will not get through the filter. That is why you can get rid of some reflections using this filter. 

Usage of the polarizing filter

Polarizing filter has I think biggest usage across landscape photographers thanks to its ability to darken sky, increase contrast in clouds and eliminate reflection from foliage which gives you richer green color. But be aware, this only works if you shooting in certain position related to sun. Effect is at its best if you shooting in 90 degree angle from sun, any different angle will decrease the effect, but it is still usable, except if you shooting directly towards sun, or with sun behind your back, where the effect is equal to zero. 

landscape no CPL.jpg landscape with CPL.jpg
Polarizing filter in landscape photography - sun is coming from left side, position was not 90 degrees, but effect is still enhancing. Left - no filter, right - with filter

Polarizing filter is architectural photographer's best friend as well. Photographer will benefit not only from its ability to darken sky and make stand out clouds, but also from eliminating reflections. Using polarizing filter, photographer can control if he wants to have reflection of the building in water, same with windows on the building. For this it is very important to shoot with the polarizing filter, because unlike with dark sky, you won't be able to do this in Photoshop, unless you are a graphic designer and you will paint there a completely new building.

building with reflection.jpg building no reflection.jpg
Left - no polarizing filter used, building with its shiny surfaces makes reflections, right - those reflections eliminated by polarizing filter. 

Polarizing filter can be used in product, portrait or fashion photography as well. In fashion and portrait especially if you shoot outside, where your background can benefit from "landscape effects" of polarizing filter. If you'd like to shoot products, polarizing filter will help you to get rid of some nasty reflections and make picture cleaner.

bentley with CPL.jpg RR with CPL.jpg
Details of the cars shoot with circular polarizing filter to get rid of distracting reflections.

For Black and white shooters, circular polarizing filter will make good foundation to your later conversion from color RAW to black and white final picture. After conversion to B&W, pictures thank to polarizing filter has more dramatic, little bit infrared look, especially sky. If you like converting your pictures to black and white and you've never tried polarizing filter, it is about the time for you to start, it may takes you to another level.

Broadway tower CPL colour.jpg Broadway tower CPL BW.jpg
Image shot with polarizing filter is quite dramatic in color, but black and white conversion took it even further.

Polarizing filter and Photoshop

Some say you are not able to simulate effect of polarizing filter in Photoshop. I'd say it is not completely truth, because some effects you can simulate to certain extend. With clever plugin it is not even that difficult and time consuming. But it is fair to say it will never be as good as filter shot. See examples bellow.

example no filter.jpg example CPL in Photoshop.jpg example CPL.jpg
Left - image without any filter, center - left image with Photoshop simulated polarizing filter effect, right - image shot with actual polarizing filter. You can see the difference.

Although the effect above can be more or less simulated, you will not get rid of the reflections in Photoshop. At least not in easy and painless way.

polarizing simulation.JPG polarizing simulation1.JPG
Here are pictures I've used at the top of the article, now I've tried simulate polarizing filter in Photoshop. As you can see, left picture was shot without polarizing filter and Photoshop polarizing filter has no effect at all, if you forget about darker sky. Right picture was shot with polarizing filter, again, no change with Photoshop polarizing effect.

What filter should I buy?

For this question there is a very simple answer, which is as well universal answer to all gear-related questions. Buy the best one your wallet, or wife lets you to buy. You get what you pay for, it is simple as that and there is no point to spent thousands on camera and lens and then ruin it with cheap filter. At the top of the game, there are B+W and Hoya, bit cheaper is Kenko, which is basically made by Hoya, but it comes in different pack. Always look for Multicoated filters, which will do the trick you want, but they won't mess with color balance. Also consider on which lens you will use the filter. If it'll be wide angle lens, you should look for the thin filters to avoid vignetting in the corners of the picture. Thin filters are in general more expensive, but if you have wide angle and tele-zoom with same diameter, you can use one thin filter on both lenses. Also if you'll combine filters, two thin filters are as thick as one thick filter, so consider that as well.

Next time ND filters.


Posted by pkuzmin at 12:35 PM

June 19, 2012

Academy heavy into June schedule

Nikonians-Academy-Update.jpgNikonians Academy North America is still going strong and we continue to add new workshops. The current schedule shows Michael A. Mariant starting the Giant Redwoods of Northern California 4-day workshop on Thursday (June 21). Meanwhile, Winston C. Hall starts a four day series of workshops on the same day in Nashville.

Academy Director Mike Hagen files this report:
Our instructor team is enthusiastic and continually receives excellent reviews from our customers.


Last week, the team ran photo workshops in Grand Teton National Park and one of our participants, Ron M., had this to say about our instructors,

"All of the Nikonian's workshops are done to the highest level of professional workshops, this one was also. I have been with Winston and Mike before and each person has a different approach and each is right in their process. Mike is very structured, methodical, and tuned into the details with a USB copy to pass around of the materials. Winston is also very methodical and is very adaptable to changes in the field... like rain. Winston is a master of HDR and taught me to use it. In this workshop with Jim Stamates, I moved into a new plateau of theories of wildlife photography... I am now in the rhythm with nature. If I can learn and retain just one thing from a workshop, it was worth it, but I took away many things from this one, Exposure, Creativity and Composition. I always take away more from a pure Nikon group and not to mention, always new friends."

Passionate_300.jpgSteve Simon's brand-new workshop called The Passionate Nikon Photographer works to blend the technical with the artistic in this two-day workshop. Based on his critically-acclaimed book, The Passionate Photographer, Steve takes you through the ten steps to becoming great. Combine that with detailed instruction on your favorite Nikon dSLR and you have a recipe for an excellent workshop.

Acadia_145.jpgFor many years you've been asking for travel and outdoor workshops on the east coast of the USA. Wait no more! Nikonians Academy instructor Les Picker is running a photography adventure to Acadia National Park in Maine.

Les is a veteran of this area and is one of the most qualified people to run a photo workshop here.

Join Les for a 4-day exploration of the exciting photographic possibilities in Acadia. You will explore its intimate coves and vaunted mountains, its pristine seashore and lush forests.

We have timed this workshop to take advantage of fall foliage with its resplendent colors.

This is your last chance to sign up for Winston Hall's workshops in Nashville. He'll be running workshops from June 21st - 24th on these topics:
Master the Nikon D800 and D4 In Depth
Master the Nikon D700 & D3/D3x/D3 In Depth
Master Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash, CLS
Master Adobe Lightroom 3 & 4 Essentials

Posted by flashdeadline at 4:01 AM

June 16, 2012

Filters in digital photography

Do you know what is most underrated and at the same time also overrated accessories? And what do photographers very often search for straight after they purchase a camera and lens? Well, that is probably tripod, but filters are following closely. But choose the right filter and more important, choose the filter you will actually need and use is not that easy.

There are just too many filters on the market now days, all of them do some good to your photography, but thanks to clever guys from Adobe you can simulate most of them in post process. Oh, I can hear that wave of disapproval right now, but don't get me wrong, you just don't really need to spend your cash on something you can fix in 5 seconds in Photoshop. So here's the list of all at least a bit important filters I can think of what you can screw or slide in front of your lens.

- UV filters
UV filters were used to reduce amount of ultraviolet light getting through and wasting your image with nasty haze in film photography. Sensors in digital cameras can deal with this without help from filter, so UV filters are used today as a lens protectors. It is still cheaper to replace filter than lens if something goes wrong, so I keep UV filter screwed on my lens all the time. If you have a good lens, buy the best UV filter you can get.

- Color graduated filters
Filters can be in any color to add impact to the images, mostly in landscape photography. Mostly used are tobacco, violet, olive. Thing is, your camera at Auto White Balance setting will probably cancel the filter out and also, this effect can be very easily done in Photoshop, so I wouldn't waste money on this. If you'd like dramatic sunset straight out of camera, you can play with white balance to achieve some different result.

Graduated colour filter.JPG

- ND (Neutral Density) filters, graduated ND filters
ND filter is simply grey glass and it's used to extend exposure time by not letting enough light to the camera. It has different grades (shades of grey) from light grey to very dark. Graduated ND filters are used in tricky light condition, where sky is very bright in comparison with foreground, so if you'd exposing without graduated ND filter you'd end up with either bleach out sky, or black foreground. ND and graduated ND filters are very useful to have, more about them in next chapters.

ND 1000.jpg 
"big stopper" 1000x ND filter

ND grad.jpg
graduated ND filter

Graduated ND filter.jpg
effect of graduated ND filter

- Polarizing filters
There are linear and circular polarizing filters, but you can forget about linear one, nobody uses it anymore. With help of physics, circular polarizing filter let just some rays of light from the spectrum into the lens and the others reflects out. Result is darker blue sky, nicer and richer clouds and more vibrant green. It also reduce reflection from shiny surfaces such as water, glass and metal. This filter is very difficult to reproduce in Photoshop, so it is must have piece of equipment. We'll find out more about polarizing filter in next chapters.

CPL filter.jpg
circular polarizing filter

polarizing filter.jpg
effect of circular polarizing filter

- Warming / cooling filters
It is obvious from the name what those filters do, so there is no point to write a novel about them. I'll just mention you can warm / cool your images until you get mad in your camera with white balance and if that's not enough, Photoshop offers endless sea of options. So it is also obvious you don't need to buy it.

cooling filter.jpg
cooling filter

warming filter.jpg

- Special effect filters
I'd put filters such as soft focus, star creation and kaleidoscope filter into this category. I can't really think about more of them, firstly because their photography enhancing effect is lost to me and secondly because if somebody decides to ruin the picture by this effect, he can easily do it in Photoshop. Bellow is an example of soft focus.

soft focus.jpg

In next chapters we'll take out only the filters which we actually need to have in our bags to some outdoor fun to see what can be done with circular polarizing filter and ND filters and how our photography can benefit from them.

Posted by pkuzmin at 2:24 PM

June 10, 2012

Nikonians Photo Professors #6

Photo Professors Episode 6: The Photo Professors discuss Rick Hulbert's recent Photo Workshop experiences, his impressions of the Nikon D800E, interview with World renowned Portrait and Wedding photographer Neil van Niekerk, and interpret an inspiring quote from photographer Diane Arbus.

Download Nikonians Photo Professors #6 (NPC-PP-2012-06-05.mp3;50:26;MP3 format)"

* The Photo Professors discuss the new Nikon D800E
* Interview with Portrait and Wedding Photographer Neil van Niekerk
* Being Inspired by the photography and words of Diane Arbus


To learn more about Neil's work, please visit his website:

Length of the podcast is 50:26

Posted by obrueck at 1:27 AM

June 5, 2012

Workshops headed west -- Indianapolis, Nashville, San Francisco included

Nikonians-Academy-Update.jpgNikonians Academy instructor Jim Stamates has Nikonians in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park photographing amazing wildlife this week.
These workshops are truly unique since Jim is able to get participants to the best spots at the best times to photograph the best animals.

Your next opportunity to travel with Jim in Yellowstone and Grand Teton is this September for our Fall wildlife photography workshops.

Also this week, Mike Hagen will be teaching four of of the Nikonians Academy Master's series workshops in San Francisco.
flash_workshop_200.jpgThere's still time to sign up for a few of the workshops. Our schedule in San Francisco includes Adobe Lightroom, Nikon Capture NX2, iTTL Wireless Flash and Studio Lighting with Profoto.

Next week, Winston Hall kicks off his mid-west USA tour in Indianapolis and Nashville.

D4-D800.jpgHe's running a new workshop titled iTTL Advanced Flash Workshop, One Flash + One Day = 5 Flash Techniques. Also, he's running Lightroom 4, and brand new workshops on the Nikon D4/D800.

Redwoods_250.jpgMichael Mariant's Giant Redwoods of Northern California has just a few seats remaining and there's still time to sign up if you want to photograph some of the most amazing scenery in Northern California.
You're going to love this trip.

The four-day photographic adventure amidst the giant redwoods of Northern California will be held June21-24.

Posted by flashdeadline at 3:25 AM

June 2, 2012

Nikonian Northern Exposure #3

Welcome to Nikonian- Northern Exposure, with renowned photographer Peter Spence. For this edition, Peter will discuss questions sent in by listeners concerning rumors surrounding the 600 Digital SLR camera; he?ll also share his experience at a Boston-based seminar hosted by world famous photographer, Art Wolfe.

Download Nikonian Northern Exposure #6 (NPC-NE-2012-05-28.mp3;32:28;MP3 format)

Peter had always been a fan of Wolfe?s, so he was honored that his work stood out enough to garner an invitation by Wolfe to photograph the seminar. However, as Peter says, Everything that can go wrong, went wrong.
He needn?t have been concerned ? Peter is determined, quick on his feet, and doesn't let unforeseen events stand in the way of offering photographic excellence. As a result, Peter was fortunate enough to have a short interview with Wolfe regarding photography.
This show serves to be especially exciting. In addition to answering questions sent in by listeners, Peter uses his Boston experience to show photographers how to take a potentially disastrous event and turn it into a excellent photographic experience for all involved

Posted by obrueck at 12:31 AM