Nikon CLS – problem when using popup flash as commander (and solution)

The other day I was shooting some portrait head shots with my D700 popup flash and a SB-900 fired remotely. I was really surprised to later find that my subjects had a 2nd catch light in each eye. It didn’t take long to realize that it had to be coming from the popup flash, even though I had it turned off in the commander mode settings in the camera.

So I did some research and found out that this is the case with the popup flashes (D200, D300 and D700 at least) when used in commander mode. However, I did learn along the way that while the SB-800 will also do this, the SB-900 doesn’t (when used as a commander flash from your hot shoe).

Anyway, long story short, I had the solution to this problem all along – it came in my R1 macro speedlight kit. I didn’t get the R1C1 which comes with an SU-800 – which would be an even better solution, but it did come with a Nikon SG-31R IR panel (get one at  B&H). This little unit definitely seems to solve the problem without having to spend the money on an SU-800, or a set of pocket wizards (which I’ve love to have of course). I haven’t done any serious testing yet to see if using this thing will still fire a flash inside of a softbox, but from what I’m reading it definitely should work.

Nikon and Adobe – Raw Converter & Camera presets

Both Nikon and Adobe have made a set of presets available that can be both loaded in your camera (Nikon) as well as in Lightroom, ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and Nikon Capture NX2. These presets are much better than you might think and if you haven’t checked them out yet, you really should give them a try.

The following presets are currently available:

  • Adobe Standard
  • Camera D2X Mode 1
  • Camera D2X Mode 2
  • Camera D2X Mode 3
  • Camera Landscape
  • Camera Neutral
  • Camera Portrait
  • Camera Standard
  • Camera Vivid

The entire list above can be loaded into Lightroom 2, Camera Raw and/or Nikon Capture NX2. The presets labeled with “Camera” can be loaded onto your camera (Nikon D3, D300 and D700). I understand that Canon cameras are also supported but I do not know which ones are included.Read More

Photomatix plugin for Lightroom 2

HDRSoft, makers of Photomatix Pro have released a little known plugin for Lightroom 1.3, 1.4 and 2.x for building HDR images. I discovered this plugin while reading this article at “Lightroom Killer Tips” and have been using it a lot since then. The plugin works really well even though it appears to still be available only as a beta.

To learn more about it, and to download the plugin, visit this link at

Once you have installed the plugin for Lightroom 2, you can manage the export settings by going to “File -> Export…”. This brings up the Export settings dialog where you should now see “Photomatix” as a new preset group listed on the left side of the dialog box. Located under the new Photomatix preset group you should find 4 default presets to get you started, but you will likely want to add your own. All of the default presets are setup to export your images in the TIFF format. The difference between them are the color space and bit depth they use. If you are like me however, you’ll want to create a new preset that exports the Raw DNG format in order to get the best possible quality HDR merge.

The trick to getting Lightroom to use your preset instead of the default preset is in the way you launch the Photomatix plugin. If you use “File -> Plug-in Extras -> Export to Photomatix Pro…”, then Lightroom will use the preset called “Standard (16-bit AdobeRGB)”. This may or may not be the one you want Lightroom to use.

The way you get control over the preset Lightroom 2 is going to use is to launch the plug-in like this: “File -> Export…”. In the Export settings dialog, choose the preset you want under the Photomatix preset group and make any last minute changes to the Export settings. When you are satisfied, click the “Export” button and Lightroom will export the selected files using the specified settings and then send them to Photomatix Pro. Once Photomatix Pro has been lauched, you will see the same series of dialogs and windows that you see when you launch Photomatix Pro manually or by drag-and-drop, etc.

Being able to select your images from within Lightroom sure has made the process a lot easier for me compared to the steps I was doing before.

Lightroom Metadata-Viewer Preset Builder

If you use Adobe Lightroom you will very likely find this to be very useful.

In the Library Module, on the right side there is a “Metadata” panel that has built-in presets like IPTC, EXIF, Large Caption, Minimal and All. These are all ok, but if you’re like me they all either have fields you don’t want to see, or they are missing some fields that you do. What I end up doing more times than not is just set it to All and then scroll up and down hunting for the fields I need.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just pick the fields we want to see and create our own presets? Even the most current version of Lightroom (2.1 as of this writing) still has no support for this. But thanks to Jeffrey Friedl, we can create our own Metadata Viewer presets showing exactly the fields we want to see! In fact, this very excellent tool has been available since Lightroom 1.1. The tool he created is called “Jefferey’s Lightroom Metadata-Viewer Preset Builder”, is described in detail here, or you can jump right to it by clicking here. Even though it says that it is for Lightroom 1.1 it works perfectly well with Lightroom 2.1. I discovered Jeffrey’s Preset Builder the other day after finally getting fed up with the limited set of presets supplied with Lightroom. When I first found it, I figured by the title that it would likely not work with the current version of Lightroom, but was pleasantly surprised to find out it still works great! I’ve built a couple of custom presets and finally the Metadata panel looks the way I’ve always wanted to! Now I can get the fields that I always use to fit on the screen without having to scroll!

Thanks Jeffrey!  I just wish I would have found this sooner!

Sugarloaf Mountain Photography is born!

Sugarloaf Mountain Photography – DOB: June 2008!

Sugarloaf Mountain Photography was started this past June of 2008. This is my first attempt at starting a business, and at this point I’m not entirely sure yet where this is going to go. But, what it does do for me right away is give me a name to operate under for work I have done in the past such as Web Development and Web Design. But adding my photography to the mix is what I’m most excited about right now. Since most web development does require at least some photography, this seems like a logical extensionRead More