Tips for Traveling Internationally in 2015

APACTour-flightboard

Having just returned from 3 weeks in the Asia Pacific region and a week in Europe a month ago I definitely have some new tips for travelers and those that travel with electronic gear or camera gear. The first thing that most travelers with tech will be concerned about is charging your devices in route and charging them once you get to your destination.

Charging in the air

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More and more long haul flights are providing USB power at every seat. If you’re in an Economy Plus seat you may even have a regular AC outlet as well which would be great for charging a laptop or tablet. It goes without saying that Business Class/First Class seats almost always have both regular AC power and USB power ports at every seat. Before you get too happy about the USB power port be aware that it is more than likely a 5v port and therefore may not charge a tablet (ie. iPad).

What if you don’t have power at your seat?

If you are on an older aircraft or crappy airline then chances are you’re not going to have power at your seat. This is where you’ll probably rely on bringing a backup battery. There are dozens and dozens of different backup battery models out there. I have recently standardized on Anker products for my charging needs. Their products are quality built and reasonably priced. I have a couple of their models.

anker-astro-2nd-gen

The one I now carry on my person is the Anker 2nd Generation Astro 6400 mAh portable charger. This one can charge my iPhone 6 Plus almost two times on a single charge. I love how it has round edges and no external buttons. This makes it great for a pocket without having to worry about accidentally turning it on.

You can get it here.

anker-astro-e7-web

The one that I carry in my bag is the Anker Astro E7. This is the mother of all backup batteries for your mobile devices. It has a whopping 25600 mAh battery capacity with 3 ports 4A. It can charge an iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy S6 over 6 times. An iPad twice. This means that I can use this battery for several days before needing to charge it.

You can get it here.

Inflight WiFi

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I’m totally spoiled flying Delta.

It’s 2015 and while Delta has the largest WiFi equipped fleet it’s still pretty rare to find a long haul (over the ocean) flight with WiFi. As a matter of fact I was coming back from Amsterdam earlier this year on a Delta 747 and I was shocked to see that I had access to GoGo Inflight WiFi for the entire 10 hour trip! Unfortunately this is more of an exception than a rule. Delta is ahead with half of their long haul flights equipped with fast (much faster than domestic 3G speeds) satellite WiFi. When it comes to other airlines like Qantas, Air New Zealand, AirFrance, Singapore Airlines, etc. WiFi isn’t something that they are aggressively adding. In fact when I had a Twitter exchange with Qantas they said they did a trial 3 years ago and there wasn’t much interest. Keep in mind that it was 3 years ago and they were charging by the kilobyte. I would imagine that there wasn’t much interest at that time with something that was likely way overpriced. No one wants to pay by the kilobyte/megabyte. GoGo has the right approach in charging a flat fee for an hour or the entire flight.

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I found the switch that controls the entire internet! :-)

I was way more productive with 10 hours of WiFi than my last flight coming home, a combined 18 hours of flight time without WiFi. If you’re expecting to get work done on a long flight be sure you’re doing things that don’t require an internet connection. With that said I can also settle the online debate of watching an iTunes rented movie with no internet connection in the air. If you rent AND download an iTunes rental on an iOS device BEFORE you board the flight. You CAN start and watch the movie WITHOUT an internet connection in the air. This wasn’t the case when iTunes rentals first hit the scene. They required a brief connection to the internet when you hit the play button to authorize the movie. Thankfully that wasn’t the case with the movie I watched on my iPad. While you can certainly watch/listen to entertainment, things like social media are out of the question without a connection.

International Power

Once you land and get to your hotel or place you’re staying at you’re probably going to want to plug stuff in and charge. Luckily most if not all modern day electronics have power supplies that handle the higher voltage of international outlets (220-240v). The main issue will be adapting the plug to the wall outlet. I used to be a fan of universal adapters that allowed one adapter to plug into multiple kinds of outlets. This used to be my favorite:

UniversalAdapter

However, I’ve been frustrated in some cases with older outlets. These large universal adapters often are simply too heavy and fall out of older, looser wall sockets. On my last trip I used specific adapters for each country. In most cases you will only need three of these:

europe-adapter

What I like out these single adapters is that they are much more reliable in just about any situation (older wall socket, power strips, etc.) and the newer design allows you to plug in two things.

I used these for Paris, Amsterdam and Italy

I used these for New Zealand and Australia

I used these for Hong Kong and Singapore (also UK)

They were cheap enough to buy 3 of each model so that I can have one of each in my computer bag and the others in my hotel room.

monster

I also travel with this portable power strip so that I can use one socket in the hotel (sometimes there’s only one) and plug in multiple devices.

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Although I haven’t tired this one, it looks like a killer strip with usb ports and adapters included!

anker_40w_USB

Hands down this is the BEST multiple port/device USB charger. I keep one of these in my suitcase. Once I get to my room I can plug it in and simultaneously charge/power just about everything I travel with. The newer 60w 6 port model rocks! When it came to charging my Apple Watch I brought my extra charging cable and my favorite Apple Watch Stand.

Getting Around Once You’re There

Uber on Apple Watch

Most countries have taxis, buses, subways and trains or least some combination of them. If I’m new to the area I’m rarely brave enough to take the train/subway because I fear getting lost. Believe it or not I’m very directionally challenged. I did use the subway in Milan to get to the EXPO because it was a single train and a direct shot. Most of the time I’d normally rely on taxis. However, with a taxi there are issues of either having enough cash in the local currency or having a compatible credit card. In some places all the taxis take cards and in others like Hong Kong they look at you like you’re crazy if you try to pay with a card. This is why I’ve gained a new respect and love for Uber. Uber was available in every country/city I visited and it took the pain out of getting around. Now I had one app on my iPhone that allowed me to summon a car whenever I wanted to. The service was consistent and since your credit card is on file with Uber there are no awkward payment issues at the end of the ride. Uber worked great everywhere I went. The only odd thing was that in Hong Kong even though I would enter the destination in the App they would always ask me where I wanted to go. I could see it on the map on their smartphone on the dashboard, but I still had to restated it each time. Speaking of putting the destination in the Uber App this also cuts down on the potential language barrier. Often in Paris the driver barely spoke English and having the destination in the Uber App made it much easier to get to where I was going.

Using ATMs and Credit Cards

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My corporate card for expenses is an American Express card. While this is pretty much accepted everywhere in the US these days, it’s hit or miss in other countries and especially at smaller merchants. Hotels, no problem, but trying to use American Express at shops and cafe’s will usually result in you pulling out a different card. Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere that cards are accepted, but you should make sure that your card is a newer one outfitted with a “chip”. The EMV chip that you’re probably seeing on all your new credit cards is pretty standard outside the US and will be a standard here by the end of the year. Some of the overseas merchants can’t process your card if it doesn’t have the chip. This is for your protection too as cards with chips are less likely to be spoofed/hacked. This will be even more the case for automated payment systems such as parking garages and train stations. My ATM Debit card doesn’t have the chip yet but I’ve yet to have a problem withdrawing money at BANK ATM machines. It’s also a good idea to alert your bank that you’re going to be out of the country so they don’t flag your transactions as fraud.

ApplePay-Paris

Yes Apple Pay works too in many places, but not all. I was able to use Apple Pay in most places in Paris.

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As a matter of fact I never realized how happy I’d be to use Apple Pay until I had to use the rest room in Milan and it was a pay toilet. I had no change!

AppleWatchonMe-ApplePay

Lastly while we’re on the subject of credit cards, it’s a good idea to remove any cards that you know you’re not going to use abroad before you leave home. Only take the credit cards that you know you’re going to use, your driver’s license, health insurance card and of course you’ll need your Passport. This way if your wallet is stolen the damage will be minimized.

Making calls and texting

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International roaming is notoriously expensive. While I’m grandfathered in to an old AT&T plan for unlimited international data (I know right!), calls by the minute are still expensive and international SMS (text) messages are crazy expensive. I rarely make calls on my iPhone when I’m traveling but when I do I do it using data instead. In iOS if I’m calling another iOS user I can simply use FaceTime Audio. If not I can use either Vonage or Skype. Of course FaceTime and Skype can also be used for video calls. iMessage uses data instead of cellular for text messages between iOS users. When I want to text non-iOS users I typically use WhatsApp Messenger. This cross platform App lets you text, send photos, etc, just like SMS/MMS messages without using your expensive international text messaging rates. If you find a WiFi hotspot to use then all of the above can be done for free.

Getting through airport security with your gear

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I get really frustrated by international airport security. If you think TSA is a hassle in the US, wait the you go abroad. On the plus side you’ll likely be able to keep your shoes on in most places, but when it comes to your belt and electronics be prepared to pretty much empty your bag. Things that can usually stay in your bag in the US like your iPad and camera, almost always have to come out at international airports. If the xray operator sees anything resembling a gadget or wad of cables you will be taking that stuff out and sending your bag back through. You can also forget leaving your laptop in a TSA approved bag. It will need to come out. Your camera and more often than not even your lenses will need to come out too. Empty your pockets. If you walk in prepared to do all of this then you will get through faster.

Pictured above is my older ThinkTank cable management bag. I now travel with this smaller one. If I take it out and put it in a bin I get through faster.

Print your itinerary

passport_itinerary

In this day of online checkin and electronic boarding passes one of the last things you’ll probably think about is having a printed itinerary. I know I didn’t used to think about having any printed documents until the one time I was coming back from India and the armed airport guard wasn’t going to let me into the airport without one. After much pleading I was able to convince him to look at the one on my iPhone. I knew from that point on to have a printed itinerary for every international trip. While you’re at it make a copy of the picture page of your passport and put it in every piece of luggage you have.

The 5 Most Useful Apps When Traveling Internationally

These are the 5 Apps that were the most useful during my travels:

FlightTrack 5

FlightTrack5_iPad_iphone5s1

FlightTrack 5 is my favorite flight management tool. I loaded all my flights in before heading out and the app kept me updated on delays and more importantly for international travel which terminal I’d be departing from in each country.

Get it here from the .

Uber

Uber

As I mentioned above I used Uber in every city in every country I visited for a consistent convenient easy way to get around as needed including rides to and from the airport.

Get it here from the .

XE Currency Pro

XE Currency Pro

When you’re in a different country then chances are the prices you see in stores, restaurants, etc. will be in the local currency. XE Currency provides a great view of multiple currencies all at once. You can easily swap between any currency you want to be the main currency.

Get it here from the .

Speak & Translate

Speak & Translate

Unless you’re bi-lingual you will probably encounter someone you need to communicate with that speaks very little of your native tongue. Speak & Translate is hands down the best audible language translator app that I’ve seen to date.

Get it here from the .

AccuWeather

AccuWeather

When I was in Hong Kong it was raining most of the time. The standard built-in iOS weather app just wasn’t accurate enough to let me know what time the rain would clear for me to go out and shoot. On the other hand Accuweather was very very accurate giving me the most accurate times of day when there would be no rain.

Get it here from the .

 

The Bottom Line

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Travel is constantly evolving. It’s fun going to new places and seeing different cultures. Once you solve the typical connectivity issues I addressed above then you can concentrate on having a good time and enjoying the trip. I would also recommend keeping a pen on your person especially on flight days to fill out customs forms and a small travel umbrella is a must have depending on where you’re headed. Every hotel I stayed in had in-room safes that are free to use. I recommend that you store any valuables and gear that you’re not going to be using before you head out sightseeing. Safe travels and sound off in the comments if you’ve got any questions. I hope my tips for traveling internationally help you out.

APACmiles

Another complete circle around the globe!

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas next week?

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Making the Most of Shooting in Crappy Weather

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As a portrait and fashion photographer I rarely have to worry about weather because I’m usually shooting in studio and controlling the lighting and environment. However, when I travel I become a travel/landscape photographer and just let me admit that it’s way way way more challenging. The 3rd stop on my Adobe tour took me to Hong Kong. Since it was my first trip to Hong Kong and I had plenty of time (a week) I was in no rush to go out shooting on day one. I arrived late Friday evening and on Saturday it looked like the shot above.

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I went out for lunch and captured the above shot with my iPhone 6 Plus. Nothing special, just looking up and snapping a pic. I enjoyed lunch by the pool an thought, “wow! what a great weekend!” Well it all came to an end on Sunday. On Sunday it started raining and well it never really stopped.

IMG_9434

I booked a city tour for Monday morning and it rained the entire time. That’s when I realized that:

  1. Don’t procrastinate. If you can get out and shoot on a good day, DO IT! Had I gone out on the same tour on Saturday I would have had a fantastic day for capturing the city.
  2. You have to make the most of shooting in crappy weather. If the weather is not going to change by the time you leave an iconic location, then you have to do your best to get some good shots.

In my case I figured I can’t make it stop raining, so therefore I would shoot things that are supposed to be wet. My tour took me to “The Peak” first and quite frankly it was a disaster for shooting with pouring rain conditions:

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This is the shot I got from The Peak while it was pouring rain.

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While the NEW Dehaze feature in Lightroom CC does wonders and with a few adjustments I was able to get something that was somewhat usable, it was clearly not my best work and didn’t do the scene justice.

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Later in the tour we went to fishing villages and that’s when I applied my theory of shooting things that are ok if they’re wet. I got one of my favorite shots above.

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Take the opportunity to shoot the local community interacting with the elements. In the case of rain perhaps target a sea of umbrellas in an urban setting, the cars going by and splashing puddles of water. Had I brought my macro lens I probably would have focused in on the drops of water on the leaves.

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Luckily the weather did clear up for a few hours on Tuesday and I didn’t hesitate to go back to The Peak as well as taking the Star ferry over to Kowloon to capture Hong Kong from the other side.

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The Bottom Line

If you’re going to shoot, shoot! Don’t take chances that the weather will be just as good tomorrow as it is today. If you are just stuck with bad weather, think of creative ways to shoot outside your comfort zone. Work the weather to your advantage.

 

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

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If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50



Where can I get the cool Adobe pillows?

  
Every time I show a shot of an Adobe office (like the Hong Kong office above – sorry for the upside down ID Pillow on the left) I get a flurry of questions on social media asking where can I get those?

Good news! You can order them right here.

They added a LR pillow recently. I hate to inform you that it may be out of stock at the moment as I just snagged the last two;-)

Cheers and happy decorating. 

Shooting Time-Lapse with the Nikon D810

nikon_d810_time-lapse_settings

I’m traveling in Asia for the Adobe Create Now/CC Launch tour. My first stop was Auckland New Zealand and my hotel room just happened to have a balcony. Whenever, I have a private balcony that’s an added bonus when it comes to photography because it usually means that I can leave my camera setup for extended periods of time to shoot long exposures and time-lapse scenes. With a beautiful view of the harbor I decided to shoot a time-lapse. Since I don’t shoot time-lapse very often I Googled “best time-lapse settings”. Most of the result offered pretty much the same advice. For your time-lapse to look the best it’s better to use a consistent exposure and shoot in Manual mode as much as possible. This means setting a fixed exposure as well as shooting Manual focus. The reason for this is to keep your camera from changing exposure or focus in each shot, thereby creating a more smooth time-lapse video.

I learned the hard way that this works great except if your scene will change drastically during the shoot. For example, shooting a sunrise means that you will start out shooting in the dark and ending up in the light. The opposite would be the case for shooting a sunset as I attempted above. By keeping the same exposure throughout the scene it went from being properly exposed to completely dark. I salvaged it by combining it with a second one of the same scene after it got dark.

The lesson here is that if the scene is going to change drastically during your time-lapse it’s probably best to shoot it on Aperture Priority mode so that the exposure will be adjusted automatically over time. Learning from this mistake I shot another one in the morning and the results were much better:

The time-lapse above was shot in Aperture Priority and Manual Focus.

Settings and Gear

I took my Nikon D810 on this trip because I knew I’d be traveling to places I’d never been before and wanted to have my best camera with me. I also brought my Gitzo Traveler Tripod and Kirk BH-3 Ballhead. No matter which camera you have, you will definitely need a tripod. The camera will be shooting for several minutes or hours. This also means you’ll want a fresh battery. I wish I had brought my battery grip along to double my shooting time.  If your camera can be plugged into AC that would be best. I used my Nikon 28-300mm lens. I shot using:

  • f/11
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual Focus
  • 28mm
  • Capturing a frame every 5 seconds
  • Duration 40 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes depending on how long of a video I wanted at the end.

A note about Time-Lapse on the newer Nikon bodies. Shooting Time-Lapse used to mean shooting hundreds of stills and then putting them together in a video editing program afterwards. Starting with the Nikon D4 the Time-Lapse mode creates a video right in camera. Instead of hundreds of stills on your memory card you’ll have the single video. This is great because it makes the process much much easier and frees up all that space on your memory cards/drives. There was one thing I hadn’t figured on when doing my math. I was figuring video at 30fps. However, I had my D810’s video setting on 1080p 60fps. When I brought my first time-lapse into my computer it was only 8 seconds instead of 15/16 seconds. I scratched my head for a few seconds before it hit me that 60fps means that the time-lapse will be half the time. I stretched duration in Adobe Premiere Pro CC to 15 seconds and the results still looked good.

Here’s one that I shot in Hong Kong during the day. Since the exposure wasn’t going to change I could shoot it all in Manual as originally recommended:

The Bottom Line

Shooting Time Lapse videos can be fun. With newer cameras it’s easier than ever. If you’re in a situation where you can set your camera up for 30 minutes or more on a tripod and shoot a scene you’d be surprised by what takes place during that time. Enjoy!

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

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If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50


 


Aperlite YH-500N Review: A Great Low Cost Speedlight for Nikon & Canon Photographers

aperlite_YH500N

Speedlights are great for being able to light your subject on location. You get a portable, battery operated solution that with the right modifiers can be a great asset. The only problem is that the name brand speedlights by Nikon and Canon cost hundreds of dollars. This makes it hard to justify buying two or three of them. My main speedlight is a Nikon SB910 and it’s currently going for $546.95 at B&H. That price point puts them in the range of studio strobes.

rapid_octa

At the end of the day you need a good light that works with the functions of your camera such as TTL, and doesn’t eat through batteries faster than normal or fail during your shoot. I had a chance to try out the Aperlite YH-500N during a portrait/fashion shoot that I did recently.

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I used it with my Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa modifier as well as my Pocket Wizard triggers. I hadn’t had any time with it before the shoot. I took it out of the box and put my rechargeable AA batteries in it. Mounted it and started shooting. I was impressed with the output and recycle rate was also decent (3 seconds), but not super. The controls are very easy to use and the illuminated LCD is very easy to read. Actually had I spent a few minutes with it before the shoot I would have found out that it has partial support for Nikon’s Wireless remote mode. This takes it up a notch because I have the ability to trigger the Aperlite from the pop-up flash on my Nikon D810.

 

The bottom line

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Chances are your Nikon or Canon branded speedlight is built better and may last longer, but here’s the kicker… the Aperlite is only $59.99! At that price you can buy 4 of them for less than the cost of the name brand basic speedlights.

9-aperlites

Even if the Aperlite failed after a year’s use I could replace it every year for 9 years before hitting the cost of one SB-910.

It also makes my Westcott Rapid Box Duo 32″ Duo (which holds 2 speedlights) much more viable. I haven’t had any issues with it thus far and I’d definitely be much more willing to risk it in less than ideal conditions than I would my SB-910. If I had to do a shoot in the water or rain you better believe I’d reach for my Aperlite first. If you’re looking for a low cost speedlight, this is it.

You can get the Aperlite YH-500N for Nikon here.

You can get the Aperlite YH-500C for Canon here.

You can get the Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa here.

You can get the Westcott Rapid Box Duo 32″ here.

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

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If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50



Is the Amazon Echo worth it? REVIEW

amazon_echo

If you’re an Amazon Prime member then you were probably given the chance to order an Amazon Echo early and for the introductory price of $99. I took them up on their offer and ordered the Amazon Echo a few months back. I wasn’t really sure what it would do for me or if it would be worth it. I received my unit and went through the setup process using the iPhone app. It was pretty easy to setup, connect it to my WiFi network and configure it with my Pandora Radio and iHeart Radio accounts. From that point on I could just say “Alexa” and ask it pretty much anything that I wanted to know. Rather than write about it I decided to give you a video demonstration:

I gotta say that I’m pretty impressed with it and especially the accuracy of the voice recognition. I use it for music the most. It’s cool being able to say play songs by _______ or have it play any of my Pandora Radio stations. I don’t have a daily commute, but if I did it would be great to say “what’s the traffic look like?” and have it give me current traffic conditions from my home to my work place. To answer the question, YES the Amazon Echo was absolutely worth the $99 special price. Now the question is is it worth the current price of $179.99? I would say mostly yes for the music aspect of it and the home automation potential. It’s also cool that new capabilities are being added to it on a regular basis. It works as advertised. One way to justify it is to keep in mind that there are bluetooth speakers out there that cost just as much and do a whole lot less. The sound coming from Amazon Echo is as good if not better than most other “dumb” speakers out there today.

You can get the Amazon Echo here.

How to shoot fireworks and cheat

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First off Happy Independence Day 2015! I know that many of you will go out and shoot fireworks this weekend. I started a little early shooting last night. Believe it or not it was my first time shooting fireworks professionally. I just hadn’t been to a fireworks display with  my gear in all these years. The last time I remember trying to photograph fireworks was years ago and it was a disaster because I made the amateur mistake of trying to photograph them handheld. Every shot was a blurry mess. A few years back my buddy Scott Kelby was looking for a topic to blog about and I said why don’t you blog about “how to shoot fireworks”? He resisted at first, but then he did it and it was such a hit on his blog he has done it every year since. Every year I refer to his post just in case I’m get a chance to photograph fireworks and this year I actually made the time to do it. I figured I had several nights to try since fireworks here in Atlanta take place in different places all weekend long.

What you’ll need and the settings:

It will work best if you have a camera that can shoot in manual mode. Sure some cameras have Scenes and even “fireworks” modes. If you want to play it totally safe by all means use one of those modes. However, if you want to have complete control, shoot in manual mode. Next and I can’t stress this enough, you’ll need a tripod. Don’t even waste your time trying to do it without one unless you’re just doing it for the fun of it and don’t expect to have “great” shots. Ideally you’ll also want either a wireless trigger for your shutter or a cable release. This will help by keeping your hands off the camera and reducing vibration as much as possible. Here are the settings you’ll want:

  • f/11 aperture
  • 4 seconds shutter speed
  • ISO 100
  • White Balance set to Tungsten 
  • Manual Focus to infinity (the symbol that looks like a sideways 8)

Which lens? I fully expected to use my 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens, but actually I was closer than I expected to be and I was glad that I brought my wide angle 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. I would recommend either a lens with a variable focal length like a 28-300mm or bring both a telephoto and a wide angle so that you’re covered depending on your location.

Now what?

After having those settings drilled into my head all these years I thought it would be a piece of cake. However, last night I realized two things about shooting fireworks: #1 Unless you’ve sat though the exact same show before, you have no idea what’s coming when. Shooting fireworks is kinda like shooting sports. You have to anticipate where the action will be and be ready for it.

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I had plenty of misses like the one above. Four seconds is a long time before you can press the shutter again. #2 and probably the thing I least expected is that fireworks shows can suck sometimes. We have to realize that fireworks shows cost money. In many cases you’ll see lots of what I call “streamers”. They go up and leave a trail of light, but no big pretty explosion at the end.

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It doesn’t cost you to shoot more pictures digitally, but what this really means is that you’ll only have a few chances to get the really “pretty/spectacular” ones. Yes there is usually a finale at the end, but it only lasts so long, If you haven’t gotten your timing together by then you’ll blow it.

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I got some “good” shots, but I wanted some “awesome” shots like the ones I see in magazines and on TV. Then I realized that I can cheat a little. I have a few good shots that could be combined in Photoshop to make an “Awesome” shot like the one at the beginning of the post.

layered-fireworks

I combined 4 of my “good” shots into one composite in Photoshop CC 2015. I simply put each one on a separate layer and set the Layer blending mode to Lighten. This got rid of the black sky and left me with just the fireworks that I could then move into any position I wanted. I used a layer mask to mask away the remnants of the laser show and ghosting of Stone Mountain.

I wasn’t a fan of the smoke surrounding what would have been a nice shot. With Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 it was even easier with the NEW Dehaze feature in Adobe Camera RAW and better yet the Camera RAW filter. I was able to take this shot:

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While it was a layer in my composite I simply ran the Camera RAW Filter on it in Photoshop CC 2015.

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Dehaze only got rid of so much of it in the first pass. Since it’s a filter I could simply apply it two more times and turn it into this shot:

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I was quite pleased with the results.

The bottom line

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Go out tonight and have some fun shooting and celebrating the 4th of July. Always remember that we have Lightroom and Photoshop to make great shots even better. If you want to check out Scott’s post you can here.



5 Books to Improve Your Photography

I haven’t met a photographer yet that doesn’t think they could improve their craft. We attend seminars, we practice, we buy new gear, we watch other pros via YouTube and we read books. I thought I would give you 5 books that will help you improve your photography.

 

It’s Not About the F-Stop

by Jay Maisel

ItsNotAboutTheFStop

Jay’s book is all about tips and advice on everything from locations and gear to bring to people and enthusiasm. A great motivational piece:

You can get it here.

 

Understand Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

by Bryan Peterson

understanding_exposure

Bryan’s book deals with mastering the exposure for just about any lighting condition with just about any camera. It answers some of the questions I get asked the most.

You can get it here.

 

Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs

by Roberto Valenzuela

pictureperfect

I get a little giddy just talking about this book. This is one of those books that with every page turn you’re going to learn something. Every page is loaded with not only great tips but out of the box thinking and practices I had not heard of before.

You can get it here.

 

The Digital Photography Book: Part 1

by Scott Kelby

thedigitalphotographybook

I remember when the 1st edition of this book came out and I read the entire book on a flight back home from California. I couldn’t put it down. Again this is an example of one of those books that has useful tips and techniques on every page.

You can get it here.

You can also get ALL 5 parts/books for one price here.

 

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers

by Scott Kelby

lightroomccbook

While this is not a book about photography, it’s impossible to be a good photographer without a good workflow to manage your photos. Lightroom is the industry leader when it comes to photo management and Scott’s book is #1 best seller on the topic.

You can get it here.

 

Going to Photoshop World 2015 in Vegas?

If so you can SAVE $50 by registering here with the Discount Code: TerryWhite50



Why I shoot Nikon?

TW-D4

I can’t believe how many times this question comes up. Usually it’s asked by new photographers or photographers that haven’t yet made a decision on which brand DSLR they’re going to go with. Last week I attended a photography meet-up at one of the local studios. Keep in mind that this was just a casual setting and I didn’t even bring my gear (in hindsight I wish I had as there were some shooting opportunities there with new models). Two of the photographers walked up to me and we started talking about photography and videography in general. One of them asked me “so do you shoot Nikon or Canon?” and I said Nikon, his partner high-fived me while he turned and walked away in disgust as if he had just lost another bet or something. It was all in fun of course, but I guess I find it odd that people are so passionate about what tools they work with that if you use a different tool it upsets them. Last night I got asked on my Instagram feed.

Screenshot 2015-06-29 22.06.52

This one was obviously more looking for a recommendation than anything else and I respect that. It prompted me to write this post so that I can answer the question and of course point people to it the next time I’m asked :-) So let me get to the answer(s):

Why did I pick Nikon?

Nikon D70

My first DSLR was actually an Olympus E20N. I started to take my hobby more and more serious and while I liked my Olympus camera, it had a fixed lens. It was finally time (2004) for me to upgrade to a DSLR with interchangeable lenses. Having watched the market I knew that I was going to go with either a Nikon or Canon camera. I want to make this part perfectly CLEAR! I had ZERO bias towards either brand (and still don’t to this day!) None of my close friends were photographers. I was making my own choice simply by my budget and the specs. I knew I wanted a camera with a fast start up time. Yes we take for granted now that we can just turn on our cameras and start shooting, but back then it “startup time” was a concern. My budget at the time was around $1,000. That put me in the price range of the 1st generation Canon Rebel. It looked good to me, but the only problem is that that model had been out already for almost a year and while I new a newer model was probably coming, it hadn’t come by the time I was ready to buy. On the other hand Nikon had just introduced the Nikon D70. It was new, and this 6.1MP beauty had all the specs I wanted and was in my price range. That was it. Plain and simple. I went with the newer camera by one of the two brands I was looking at.

 

Why did I continue with Nikon?

nikon_d810

As almost any photographer will tell you, once you start buying lenses you’re not going to switch brands on a whim. There’s always a new Nikon and a new Canon camera coming out. So you’ll always be glancing at the other brand and latest new toys. However, there hasn’t been anything on the Canon side that made me say “I gotta sell everything and switch.” On the other hand for years Nikon has had a couple of features that lacked on the Canon side that made me happy with my choice. For one I was a heavy user of the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) and the ability to fire and control Nikon speedlights from the built-in flash. This wireless control is beyond just a simple wireless trigger and allows you to control the power and groups of flashes. The other long time advantage that Nikon had was built-in GPS support right in the menu of the cameras for years. While you still need to buy an external GPS module (when will you guys build these in as a standard option or least put them in the battery grips?), the support for them is and had been built-in for a very long time. I love having the geotag info go right into the metadata as a I shoot. Now these features that I’m sure Canon probably offers by now, but for years they didn’t.

di-gps-eco-prosumer-Nikon_d600

 

Did I ever consider switching?

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Yes there was a time. Well I’ll say that I considered ADDING a Canon DSLR back in the days when Canon was ahead on low light/high ISO shooting. Yep, I was drooling big time. I almost pulled the trigger on buying a Canon DSLR a couple of times just to have this capability. However, I waited and the next Nikon to come out had great low light performance and that was the end of my envy. I stepped up to a D700 (from the D300 that had replaced my D80 which had replaced my D70) and used it happily for several years before going to the D4 (D600 backup body, which replaced the D7000 and D5000 backup bodies before it) and now a Nikon D810!

 

Do I think Nikon is better than Canon?

Model: Kandice Lynn, MUA: Houda Bazzi, Lighting by Westcott

Nikon D700, Model: Kandice Lynn, MUA: Houda Bazzi, Lighting by Westcott

I can see the eyebrows raising as I type this. Let me answer it this way. Both brands produce GREAT cameras and with any two things you’re going to have advantages in one area over the other. So yes, I think Nikon glass (lenses) are better. But keep in mind that’s just from my observations looking over the fence. I haven’t actually spent a lot of time shooting different Canon lenses. It’s just an observation and even something that I’ve had Canon shooters whisper to me on the side. I think Canon does and has done a much much better job with video than Nikon has. There’s no question about it. If you’re looking to do DSLR video then you should probably look at Canon first. Also Canon seems to have the sports shooting market all but locked up. You’ll see more Canon cameras on the sidelines than any other brand in professional sports. Since I never shoot sports this isn’t something that I consider. My Nikon D810 does a great job shooting video too. My primary use for my Nikon camera is shooting portrait work and for that I’ve been happy since day one. Never had a complaint about the quality and my work has been used in print. If you were hoping for a clear definitive one is better than the other. I can’t give you one. It’s because I think they are both great and both have advantages and disadvantages over the other. I never understand why some people feel that in order to be justified in their choice, the other one must suck/fail. It’s a lack of confidence thing I think.

rapidbox-box

Westcott liked the images from my Red Rock Canyon shoot so much that they wanted to use them for the Rapid Box packaging.

 

Which one should YOU buy?

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Believe it or not I really don’t care. Last time I checked neither Nikon nor Canon has paid a single one of my bills. So I don’t gain anything if you buy Nikon or if you buy Canon. The best advice I can give you is to buy the one that does what you need it to do. The one that’s in your price range and it probably wouldn’t hurt to buy the brand that your friends use. Huh? What do my friends have to do with it? Think about it this way. If you’re always shooting solo then no, it doesn’t matter which brand you choose. However, if you’re shooting with your buddies on a regular basis then having the same brand means that you guys can swap lenses, batteries and other accessories while you’re shooting. You’ll have a lot more fun and be able to focus on your photography rather than constantly glaring at the fact that he/she’s using something DIFFERENT. Both brands will allow you to capture amazing images, if YOU are up to it.

 

The Bottom Line

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I’m not really into  the whole Canon vs. Nikon war that so many of you fight (if you want to have a health RAW vs JPEG debate then I’m all for it – kidding…). I explained my choice above and most importantly I get the results I want from the investment that I made in my tools. I have friends that shoot Nikon. I have friends that shoot Canon. It’s all good (unless of course you shoot Sony! We just can’t have that at all! OMG YOU SUCK! —— Just kidding. LOL my buddy Frank Doorhof shoots Sony. It’s ok. No, really it is.)

Now you know Why I shoot Nikon.

Going to Photoshop World 2015?

Hey! If you’re going to Photoshop World this year that’s great and I look forward to seeing there. So much so that i’m going to give you $50 off your Photoshop World registration simply by clicking here to register and by using discount code: TerryWhite50



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