Nikon School: Next Steps: Color, Light, Technology


Today was Day 2 of our Nikon School adventure. After enduring the heat in the Hotel Pennsylvania yesterday, my daughter was considering wearing shorts. Of course they now had the overheating  problem “fixed” and the room was frigidly cold. I had my coat on all morning, but it was far better than yesterday’s heat wave.

The subjects today were lighting, color and editing. There was probably 45 minutes of repeat from yesterday, which mainly focused on their explanation of RAW data files and their demo of the Nikon Capture NX2 photo editing program.

As happened yesterday, the instructors again were Bill Durrence and Nick Didlick. They provided a nice balance. I would say that Bill is the strict parent and Nick is the fun parent! Each was responsible for two of the four sessions. Bill is a former newspaper photographer. Nick photographs sports and was in charge of all photography for the recent Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Both have traveled all over the world on photography shoots, and the banter between them was quite funny.

I loved their explanation of light. Of course the traditional wisdom is to always shoot someone in full sun, which means that their face is brightly lit (with possible harsh shadows) and they are squinting into the sun. This morning covered front, back and side lighting and the advantages each. Since the goal of photography is to control the light, a much better choice may be to shoot in the shade and use a flash to fill in the details of your subject’s face.

After lunch there were a variety of questions. The most interesting brought out the fact that you often need a permit to shoot photos (for example in NYC or national parks). Also, apparently some buildings are copyrighted and cannot be photographed. Who knew?

There was some information about how to prepare video and slideshows. The basic deal with video clips is that they need to be very smooth (shaking the camera will give your audience motion sickness) and must tell a story.

After lunch was an in depth session about using flashes for portrait photography. The “volunteer” selected happened to be my teenage daughter, who was photographed using various kinds of flashes, and with several diffusers and reflectors. The result was beautiful. I give her a lot of credit for seeing her face projected on a 12 foot high screen! I think this was the most interesting part of the day, because we actually got to witness a photography session and the adjustments needed to get a good portrait.

The final part of the day was a demo of Nikon View NX2, which seems to be a far easier editing program than Photoshop. Bill Durrence demonstrated how to edit two photographs.

I have only good things to say about this program. Everyone I talked to seem to be learning. The instructors were entertaining and informative. It is a great survey course to learn what you don’t know. It also generates excitement about photography.

Since I’m a quilter — and not a photographer — I have to make a few observations. First of all, quilting looks cheap when compared to photography! My Janome 6600 cost the equivalent of my daughter’s Nikon D7000. However all I need now is fabric, a pattern, and some rotary cutting blades. Not so with photography! You could easily spend thousands of dollars on lenses and software. The flashes were $350 and you need at least two of them. On the other hand, the costs of quilting are for consumables, whereas — once you’ve stocked up on lenses — you don’t incur a lot of additional costs for photography.

Photographers are far more computer savvy than us quilters. Although they may not all be whizzes with the editing software., I’d say that most of far more computer literate than quilters, most of whom (including me) haven’t even learned the Eectric Quilter design software yet.

I also think that photographers have more opportunity to be social. Many shoots are organized in groups, and there’s certainly lots of time for banter while waiting for the birds to show up or the right light over a landscape. Photography is a great excuse to travel. Quilters, in general I think, are more comfortable closer to home. There seems to be much more pride in, and acceptance of, photography as a REAL hobby compared to quilting!

Since I love art quilting, I’ve been able to combine photography with quilting. I hope to continue learning about photography, to master editing software, and to figure out a way to catalog my photos. This weekend was a good step in that direction. Plus their beautiful photographs gave me several new ideas for quilts.


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