Read My Article in Outdoor Photographer Magazine, August 2015 Issue

OP-ArticleI’m excited to report that my work is featured in the August 2015 issue of Outdoor Photographer Magazine. The article is called “My Move To Mirrorless,” and it outlines my transition from Nikon DLSR gear to the smaller, lighter Fuji X-T1 and X-T10 for all of my photography.

The piece features a number of my recent favorite images, all shot with the X-T1, and it details exactly how I made each photo. For each example, the extended caption explains how mirrorless camera technology has influenced my work, and in most cases, how my fast moving style of outdoor action and adventure has actually benefitted from using mirrorless cameras.

Aside from being lighter and smaller, there are distinct advantages that mirrorless cameras such as the X-T1 offers over DSLRs. And I’m not the only person who has discovered these benefits- A a wide number of photographers, both pro and amateur are discovering that they don’t need clunky DSLRs in order to shoot professional quality work.

Having used SLR and DSLR cameras for well over 20 years, I did not take my switch to mirrorless lightly. The bottom line is that I can’t afford to use gear that doesn’t let me push my creative and technical limits as I continue to evolve as a photographer.

This isn’t about trends, it’s about tools. Since much of my photography revolves around very technical shooting situations that incorporate tricky light and fast breaking subject matter, I need a camera system that can perform to high standards and deliver fast, accurate autofocus, good ergonomics and high quality images with excellent color rendition. For me, the X cameras deliver all of those things, plus they’re really fun to use.

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There’s still a misperception with some people that DSLRs are far superior to mirrorless cameras when it comes to quality and performance. However, some of the arguments I hear are either not entirely accurate, or they do not reflect the kinds of real-world situations that most photographers deal with on a regular basis.

The goal with this article, which the OP editors asked me to write, is to dispel these notions. While I don’t have the same extensive experience with other mirrorless camera brands, some of my points in the OP article do apply to other mirrorless setups as well. With regards to the Fuji system, here are some addition points not described in the magazine piece.

The Fuji X-Trans sensors are capable of producing results that exceed the needs of many shooters. With its irregular pattern, non-bayer color filter matrix and no optical low pass filter in front of the sensor, the Fuji X cameras produce incredibly sharp imagery that rivals full frame. I’ve seen side-by-side comparisons of the Fuji X-E2 and the Nikon D750, where the image from the X-E2 was sharper. Plus, the pixel density/size on the X-T1 is almost identical to the Nikon D810, which means it has the same, excellent low light performance.

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Also, Fuji’s long history of color rendition, which stems from decades of film production, has been infused as specific color profiles into their digital cameras. I’ve always loved the Fuji colors. There’s nothing like capturing a brilliant, dynamic outdoor scene on Velvia. It was gorgeous then, and it’s gorgeous now.

Then there’s the glass. Fuji has made lenses for Hasselblad, NASA, TV and film and other uses/manufacturers for years. Their glass is as sharp as any lens you’ll ever look through, and combined with the X-Trans sensor, the X cameras produce unbelievably sharp photographs that will reproduce well, even at VERY large sizes. I’ve had photos from my X cameras blown up to 4 by 6 foot wall panels for professional clients that look absolutely stunning.

In just a few years, Fuji has built an incredible selection of 20 lenses, that encompass a wide range of fast primes and zooms, 5 of which are weather sealed, and they even have a 100-400mm lens and a teleconverter slated to come out in the next year or so. This will be an excellent combo for wildlife photographers. Also, Lensbaby has finally released an X mount version for the Fuji cameras.

Finally, with the recent v.4 firmware update, Fuji totally revamped the predictive autofocus system on the X-T1 and the new X-T10. It’s even faster and more accurate now, and as good or better than many lower priced DSLRs. Combined with the X-T1′s high buffer and 8 fps frame rate, you can max out at 47 RAW shots in full continuous mode. Is it as good as the $6,000 Nikon D4? No, but for what most people shoot, it will get the job done. I shoot lots of fast moving subjects and it gets the job done for me.

DSLRs are great, but the reality is that mirrorless cameras represent the future. As the performance gap keeps closing with each new model, I think you’ll find them to be more than adequate, if not ideal for just about everything you shoot.

The August 2015 issue of Outdoor Photographer is now on the newsstands, and you can also read the digital edition on your mobile device. Also, to read the full story of my move from Nikon to Fuji, check out this blog post.

Have you switched? Leave a comment and tell me your story.

Bring Back the Shadows: The Case Against HDR

RCL-300Call this ode to the shadow, my attempt to rescue that wonderful, often elusive species, which has been pushed aside lately with such increasing and ruthless neglect by slider-happy photographers who banish it from existence in their images.

You know what I’m talking about. You see it every day. On Twitter, on Facebook, and especially on Instagram. Photos with such incredible, brilliant and dynamic colors that look like they’ve been cooked. Pictures with drippy, over saturated hues; like cotton candy that’s been slathered with an entire bottle of maple syrup. Google “Fantasy Art” and you’ll see the exact same tonal blueprint.

It took me awhile to figure out why I can’t stand that stuff. No, it’s not that weird alien-like edge glow that floats around the subject, or even cosmic tones that peg the gamut meter full tilt. It’s the fact that you can see everything. Nothing is hidden.

POR-JKOH-00044Yes, there’s some well executed HDR out there, but to me, most HDR photography, whether it’s done with a plug-in or by slamming the software sliders all the way to the right, is nothing more than sugar. Spoon fed sugar that’s shoveled right into your mouth.

It delivers calories with no work. A payoff with no effort. In every way, it’s just like that godawful, heavily compressed, crossover pop garbage that pours forth from the country stations. Noone really like that stuff, but the radio keeps playing it.

Whatever happened to subtlety? To innuendo? To suggestion?

Whatever happened to shadows…?

Whether it’s bad HDR or bad country music, if you give the viewer or listener EVERYTHING in the same level of volume, color, tone and brightness, you leave nothing to the imagination. You relegate your audience to nothing more than a passive input device with absolutely no active role in the process.

IND-IND-322Music, photography, drawing, writing, painting or sculpture, art without the element of imagination and suggestion is meaningless. It’s just ingredients with no nourishment; no context; no message; no expression. It’s just noise.

Imagination is what makes the creative efforts and crafts of other individuals resonate with us as fellow human beings. It’s what brings us into the minds of the artist and causes us to question, think, consider and otherwise ruminate over the contents and ideas presented.

Give your viewer everything and they have nothing to do but just sit there and take it. Is that what you want? Do you want your imagery to provide your viewer with the same level of entertainment as a bland, homonogized country hit or a bad sitcom?

Or do you want to engage your viewer with a photo that invokes ideas, imagination, and an emotional response, and that makes them remember your image, long after they’ve turned the page, visited the next web site, clicked the “next” arrow, or flipped the screen up with their thumb? We have enough passive media input in our society, don’t contrite to that mess, try to make something that warrants a second glance.

HIK-AK-02198We didn’t have this problem in the old days, largely because film couldn’t show everything. With such a narrow latitude, you had to be selective and make decisions about what to show in your images. You were forced to work with these technical limitations, and so the temptation of glossing up the shot wasn’t even there.

Dye sublimation printing allowed for richer color palettes and increased shadow detail over tradition prints and Cibachomes, but it still didn’t compare with what we can do with digital photography today, and that’s where the problems began.

This is where it gets tough. Just because you CAN blast colors to the edge of the spectrum and show every single detail, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. The elements of light, shadow and contrast are fundamental and essential aspects of photography, and they always have been. Let us not forget this.

Shadows are the sexy outfits that hide and suggest your subject matter. They insinuate shapes, form and identify, and they add a tremendous amount of flavor to to your shots. With many shooters, they define style.

Shadows are such an integral part of the power of photography, so please don’t drive them to the brink of extinction like the white rhino. Doing so will ruin the craft. So let them loose. Let them run free in your imagery. Embrace them and start to think more about what you can conceal rather than what you can show and your photos will take on a whole new dimension.

So pull back a little bit. Or a lot. Give your viewers part of the story and let them imagine the rest. Embrace the shadows and they’ll reward you with as much love as you give them. I promise.

Ok, let the comments begin…

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Check Out My Brand New iOS Photography Apps

Learn Photography Online with the Pros

App StoreI’m excited to announce the release of my brand new photography apps for iPhone and iPad.

Capturing Action and Capturing Landscapes are both full of photography tips designed to help you shoot better, more dynamic images, whether you use a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or with the amazing current mobile technologies that are available, even a phone.

Each app features around 30 of my favorite images in that style, as well as detailed “behind-the-scenes” info for every one of the shots. In addition to full camera, lens, ISO, and exposure data, I’ve included a specific technical and/or compositional tip for each photo that highlights exactly what I did, or what I looked for in order to make the shot come alive.

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Each apps also features an insider’s look at my Gear Bag, which includes a full list of the current equipment I use, although the images in each app span from nearly two decades of work and a variety of different cameras. Each app is self contained, so you don’t need an internet connection to run them.

Please note, that since these apps use some of the latest mobile technology, they require iOS 8 to run them. I realize that not everyone has upgraded to iOS 8, but for what it’s worth, I upgraded my iPhone 4S so I could preview these apps and so far I’ve had no problems. It runs fine.

Working with Go Mobile Masters, we wanted to create apps that inspire and educate, and I’m very excited with what we’ve done. Just as with my blog, my eBooks and my brand new print book, Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography, my goal is to help other photographers create the best, most exciting outdoor imagery possible.

Here’s the thing- I love photography, and I love it when other people get excited about their own photography.

The bottom line is that it feels the same for all of us when we see an exciting convergence of light and moment in the viewfinder and we’re able to click the shutter at just the right time, so I’m more than happy to share my experience and insight with you.

Both apps are available at the Apple iTunes Store, so either click the links below or search the iTunes store for Dan Bailey Photography. I hope you enjoy them!

Capturing Action – Dan Bailey Photography

Capturing Action – Dan Bailey Photography – for the iPad and iPhone – is an interactive education app that features detailed photo information written by an internationally published outdoor photographer. While flipping through the screens, using Flip Book technology, you’ll view a stunning collection of Dan’s action and adventure imagery, and gather photo tips along the way that will help you get shots like these.

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Capturing Landscapes – Dan Bailey Photography

Capturing Landscapes – Dan Bailey Photography – for the iPad and iPhone – is an interactive education app that features detailed photo information written by an internationally published outdoor photographer. While flipping through the screens using Flip Book technology, you’ll view a stunning collection of Dan’s favorite landscape images, and gather photo tips along the way that help you get shots like these.

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Mirrorless Cameras and the Legacy of Photography

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Last week, I went out shooting with my friend Ryan Greeff, who lives here in Anchorage. He also likes to photograph outdoor adventure subjects and sports like mountain biking. He’s only been shooting for a few years, but he’s got a … Continue reading

Solar Charging Solutions For Your Camera Batteries

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Modern technology is awesome, but it sucks to be tethered all the time. As much as we depend on our gadgets, and especially our cameras, we what outdoor photographers, adventurers and travelers really long for is to be able to … Continue reading

More Action and Autofocus Tests with the New Fuji X-T10

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted my full review of the new Fuji X-T10, which is now shipping. I’ve been so impressed with this little camera; it really is a hot little number. The little brother to the X-T1, the new … Continue reading