Never Work for Free, Always Have Fun, and More Advice from Commercial Photographer Court Leve

Never Work for Free, Always Have Fun, and More Advice from Commercial Photographer Court Leve

Court Leve is a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California and  voted Best Photographer in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee region for 2010. Specializing in action sports, wedding, portraiture and pet photography, Leve combines a journalistic and traditional approach to his work that results in highly acclaimed emotional and captivating images. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and The New York Post. His clients include The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe,  LinkedIn, Sportmaster.ru, Warren Miller Entertainment, Canine Hardware, Points North Heli-Adventures, Astro Gaming, Clear Capital, Cebridge Communications, Squaw Valley, Panoptyx, Plumpjack, Zeal, Kombi, Helly Hansen and more. In this interview, he shares with us some of his insights and lessons learned in the notoriously difficult field of freelance commercial photography. BL: Describe your transition from hobbyist to professional photographer. CL: Becoming a professional photographer seemed meant to be. Ten or so years ago, I was shooting anything and everything I could as a hobby when my neighbor, who was trying to start a sports journal publication, asked if I wanted to photograph a local adventure race. The shoot took all weekend and I wound up meeting and working with the staff photographer of the Tahoe World newspaper out of Tahoe City, California. When we were finished with the job, I let him know that I was available if he ever needed an extra shooter  and he told me that, despite his guilt over giving shorter than two weeks notice to the paper, he was to moving out of town. So, as it turned out, I started my job...
5 Great Photos Shot with BorrowLenses Gear

5 Great Photos Shot with BorrowLenses Gear

We spent all day caring for lenses, cameras, and more that find temporary homes with photographers all over the world capturing scenes of people, places, and events large and small. Every now and again, we get to see the results on Flickr, Facebook, G+, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Here are 5 shots we like created with the help of BL gear: We want to see your work! For a chance to have your work shared on our blog, you can private message us on Facebook, G+, Twitter, or Flickr with a downloadable link to your image, a link to your website, and what gear you used! Cover photo by epSos .de...
10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos

10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos

Dean J. Tatooles specializes in fine art panoramic landscape photography, wildlife photography, and indigenous portraiture from remote locations around the world. He also works with top-rated travel companies and fellow professional photographers to lead photographic safaris in India, Kenya, Iceland and more. Fresh off a trip from Kenya, Tatooles shares with us some lessons learned out in the field. 10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos by Dean J. Tatooles As a professional travel and wildlife photographer, I am frequently asked the same question: “How do I take better pictures of animals?” My answer is usually always the same. There is no perfect recipe but there are some things you can do that will substantially improve your end result. Here are 10 rules that I live by: 10.  Vary your lens choice. A common misconception is that you need the longest lens possible to get the best wildlife images. In some cases that is true but there are many situations in which a wider lens is more desirable. For example, I found myself reaching for a wider lens in Africa to capture a cheetah on the hunt in northern Kenya. A nice tight headshot is always wonderful but incorporating an animal’s native environment into your composition is also very pleasing. 9.  Use a monopod or tripod. Wherever possible, use a monopod or tripod. You will always get sharper images the more stable your camera and lens. This is particularly true in low light conditions such as dusk in the African bush or hiking in a tropical rainforest when your shutter speeds are slower. 8.  Use a small bean bag when shooting...
8 Detailed 80 Megapixel Phase One Medium Format Example Images

8 Detailed 80 Megapixel Phase One Medium Format Example Images

As promised in our What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera post, we’ve put together a few example images from our latest 80MP addition to our Medium Format inventory. The Hasselblad H4X and the 80MP Phase One Digital Back is a powerful combination. Hasselblad full frame, bright, and clear viewfinder makes composition and focusing easier – not to mention Hasselblad’s True Focus feature, which allows you to recompose your camera position while maintaining a predetermined focus point. RAW files are about 80MB (10328 x 7760) each. For comparison, the D800’s considerably hefty 36MP produces 40-45MB RAW files (7360 x 4912). They are in Intelligent Image Quality format which is completely lossless and can be read with Capture One. They can be processed into a 16 bit TIFF, though they will only end up being half the size of the traditional RAW. The 3.2″ LCD has a 170 degree viewing angle, gradations in 16 million different shades, and 1.15MP resolution at 290ppi. Image Examples All of the following images are resized in order to fit onto the blog and also edited. Provided are also image closeups. You can download (zipped, around 815MB) all of the RAW, completely unedited files for pixel peeping purposes and to test drive the settings in Capture One. Included are the RAW files of any comparison shots done with other cameras and the edited JPGs. Do NOT use these images for anything other than personal education. Below are the basic stats of our Hasselblad H4X with the Phase One IQ280 Digital Back. Experience it for yourself, for your commercial clients, and for your portfolio.  ...
Four 35mm Lenses Compared for Night Sky Photography

Four 35mm Lenses Compared for Night Sky Photography

In The Best Lenses for Night Photography, night sky specialist David Kingham recommended Rokinon lenses due to their lack of coma and low purchase/rental price. He has compared the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 with the recently-released Sigma 35mm f/1.4, along with the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 35mm f/1.4. See which one rises to the top! The Best 35mm for Night Photography by David Kingham  Here’s the lineup: Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Nikon 35mm f/1.4 Keep in mind that this test is for a specific style of night photography that captures the stars as points of light. This requires wide open apertures and high ISOs. You can see more of this style of night photography in my Nightscapes gallery. Coma Coma is an aberration that can make stars look more like streaks at the edge of the frame when shot wide open. I was surprised to find that all of these lenses performed very well as far as preventing coma goes. Rokinon 14 & 24mm lenses blow away their Nikon and Canon equivalents but at 35mms it’s a different story. The Nikon actually performed the best, followed by the Sigma. The Zeiss performed the worst and the Rokinon in between. None of them performed poorly in this area, though, so I wouldn’t base your buying/rental decision on this alone. Sharpness I was surprised by the lack of sharpness from the Zeiss in the center of the frame. Oddly, it’s sharper on the edges than the center. Based on this alone I can’t recommend the Zeiss for night photography. Overall the Sigma had the best sharpness, followed closely by the Rokinon. Vignetting There...