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Iceland Wedding

Imagine as you arrive to the chapel on your wedding day, you're greeted by a professional photographer whom you've never seen before and he says he'll shoot your ceremony for free. All you have to do is sign a model release. Oh, and he doesn't speak your native language.

This is just one of the amazing events that happened in Iceland. In the story, The Couple from Sweden, I describe the series of events that led to my photographing one of the sweetest weddings I've ever encountered. I've also posted the gallery on my Story Photography site.

Unlike the commercial weddings that I normally shoot, I captured this one existing light with no flash. I had complete artistic freedom. I then processed the images in Adobe Lightroom, and used its Web module to generate the gallery pages. From start to finish, this was a very satisfying self-assignment.

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Nikon D80 for Serious Enthusiasts

Nikon D80

The new Nikon D80 is a 10.2 megapixel sophisticated DSLR designed for serious enthusiasts who want great images but don't have the budget for a high-end Nikon.

The specs are impressive: new 12-bit image processing engine, 2.5" LCD, 0.18 sec. start-up with fast 80ms shutter response, three metering modes including spot, 3 frames per second, built-in flash with wireless commander, and bright 0.94x optical glass viewfinder. The body should retail for $999, or get the kit for $1,299 that includes the new 18-135mm DX Zoom Nikkor lens. Personally, I think the kit sounds like a better deal.

This camera is clearly a cut about the D50 and D70. It has more resolution, better image processing, and lots of new features. It's not inexpensive by any means. $1,300 for body and lens is a sizable investment for most enthusiasts. But I think Nikon had done their homework here and put together a camera that will satisfy this demanding niche. I'll report more once the test results begin to surface. The camera should be available sometime in September.

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retouch_tool.jpg

The Retouch tool in iPhoto 6 has more capability than most people realize. The default mode is a frustratingly blunt cross hairs that provides very little control. You can, however, enable an advanced mode that lets you set the diameter of the brush for more precise retouching.

First launch iPhoto 6, choose a picture and enter Edit mode by clicking on the Edit button in the row of buttons beneath the thumbnails. Click on the Retouch tool and your mouse pointer will become the normal cross hairs that we're accustomed to with Retouch.

To enable the advanced options, press the "Caps Lock - CTRL - 9" keys all at the same time. You won't notice any difference at first, but you have activated the advanced mode. Now press the Tab key, and your cursor will change from a cross hairs to the brush diameter indicator as show in the illustration above. You can make the diameter of the brush bigger by pressing the right bracket key ] and smaller by using the left bracket key [.

You can also control the density of the retouching by holding down the SHIFT key and using the right and left curly braces { }. SHIFT - Right Brace } increases the density of the retouch and SHIFT - Left Brace { decreases the density.

If you press the Tab key again, you go to Lighten mode. This tool is good for lightening areas of the image that have a little too much density. Again, you can control the diameter of the brush via the left and right bracket keys. Press the Tab button again and you return to the normal cross hairs mouse pointer.

The advanced options stay on as long as iPhoto is open. If you relaunch the application, then you'll need to enable them again via the "Caps Lock - CTRL - 9" keys. You can read more about these tools in Rob Griffiths excellent Macworld article, Use advanced iPhoto 6 edit tools.

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sony_gps.jpg

Sony's new GPS-CS1 is compact device (about 55 g) that records your GPS coordinates every 15 seconds while in the field. Then, when you return home, you can synchronize this information with your picture metadata and know the approximate location of every image you captured.

The $150 USD device works with Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S500, S600, S45, W30, W40, W50, W70, W100, H2, H5, T30 and Sony α (alpha) DSLR-A100 cameras using Windows software. It's not clear yet if it can be used for other cameras via a workaround. We'll have to wait until it actually ships to find out.

In the meantime, this is probably the first of many such devices we'll see that enable us to record satellite data and synch it with our image metadata.

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Returning Home from Iceland

Boy Riding Horse

As I write this, we're packing up the Epson R2400 printers here in the workroom and getting ready to leave Nesbud for our return to Reykjavik. We're prepared for tonight's presentation at the Apple Store in Iceland's capital. We have a stack of amazing 13" x 19" prints that we worked on all day yesterday, in addition to a Lightroom-generated slideshow. You can get a glimpse at some of the images by visiting Adventure Gallery 3, which features the work of over a dozen of the photographers working here in Iceland.

As you look at the work, keep in mind that the photographers used only the Develop module in Lightroom for their image editing. The only time people jumped over to Photoshop was when there was image sensor dust that had to be removed with the cloning tool. As of now, there isn't that function in Lightroom.

Saturday morning we head back home. Life will return to normal here on The Digital Story. I appreciate your joining me in Iceland for this week's dventure.

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Location Model Shoot in Iceland

Model in Iceland

On Wednesday I was able to work with Maggie Hallahan, a commercial photographer based in San Francisco. She had made arrangements with Eskimo, an Iceland agency, to have five models come up to Nesbud for a shoot. Maggie had borrowed designer sweaters made here locally for the women to wear while we photographed them in the environment.

One of the things I enjoyed about this shoot was having photographers on hand to hold reflectors and assist with the models. We shot existing light only, using reflectors for fill light or shading as necessary. Because of the long days here, we started shooting at 4pm and didn't put away our cameras until 11pm.

I used the ExpoDisc to set my white balance in the changing light. That way I didn't have to worry about color correction in post processing, which is a big deal when working such long hours.

The shoot went well, and I ended up with over 400 images. That's a lot of data when you're talking about 12 megapixel Raw files.

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Looking Around

Sheep in Iceland

I was hiking in the Nesbud countryside yesterday. The trails are much different than those in California. Here, it isn't so much a trail as it is a thin line of trampled grass with the occasional maker staked into the ground. As such, I often discovered that I had strayed, and would have to find a marker to get back on track.

The Iceland sheep and horses are popular subjects. They have amazing hair that moves in the breeze, and the backdrop is almost always interesting. Since I'm the photo editor as well as photographer on this trip. I spend lots of time looking at images by my peers. Some amazing stuff for sure, and well beyond shots of the local livestock -- although some of the horse images are among the best I've seen.

I've just posted the second Adventure Web Gallery with images by famous photographers such as John Isaac and Michael Reichmann. Sometimes, when we're traveling in small groups, I feel like the sheep I've posted here -- standing on the hillside, looking around, ready to dash off at a moment's notice.

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sony_a100.jpg

A sophisticated 10-megapixel DSLR with lens for under $900? That's what Sony is offering with their new Alpha D-100. This outfit should be especially appealing to folks who own Minolta SLR lens that will work nicely on this new body.

In a recent review on DP Review, Phil Askey concluded that Sony has produced a real contender here. The picture quality is great. And the merging of Minolta and Sony creativity has yielded some innovative features such as Eye-Start AF and In-hardware Dynamic Range Optimization. The In-body SteadyShot system provides about 2 stops of additional shutter speed latitude with any lens you mount.

The complaints were few. Noise levels are a little high at ISO 800 and 1600, and the proprietary hot-shoe design limits fewer third party flash options. But in the end, the Alpha A-100 earned a "Highly Rated" from DP Review.

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Wedding in Iceland

Wedding in Iceland

We found a tiny chapel outside of Reykholt Iceland while exploring on Sunday. Before the shooting commenced, we asked a local if it was OK to photograph the church. Not only did we get permission, but I found out there was going to be a wedding later that day. I was thrilled, since I wasn't able to participate in the wedding I had planned on attending the day before. We just couldn't work out the transportation. Now, out of nowhere, Iceland provided me with a second chance.

I've published a few of those images, along with shots from eight other photographers on the team, at this Adventure Web Gallery. If you have a moment, I recommend that you take a look at the work of these great artists. Hopefully, we'll publish a second gallery very soon.

Oh, and back to the wedding. The couple didn't have a photographer lined up. So, I'll be providing them with a few dozen images as a thank you for letting be part of their event.

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On the Way to Reykholt

On the Way to Reykholt

We left Reykjavik Saturday morning and headed north to Reykholt, where we would establish base operations for the next three days. Even though we had done some casual shooting in the city, I could tell the photographers were getting anxious to start working the Iceland landscape. To compound matters, the weather was quite good. So the process of getting organized, packing up, and finally hitting the road was agonizing.

Once we got Reykholt, we had some soup (no one was serving meals in the mid afternoon), and the various factions of photographers scurried in different directions like startled baby quail. Our party shot until 8 pm, had a light dinner, then went out and shot the sunset 11 pm. It's 12:30 am now as I write this post. There's still light in the sky, but not enough for shooting.

Today's shot was captured on the road to Reykholt. I used the Caonon 5D in Raw mode, ISO 100, 1/125th @ f-8, using the Canon 24-105 mm f-4 L zoom. I'm using a custom white balance setting with the help of an ExpoDisc, which I'll talk about more in another post. I'm using only Lightroom to upload, organize, and process these images.

Tomorrow I'm going to catch a ferry out to the islands. If the weather holds, it should be another great day of shooting.

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