BL Blog

Posts by: Scott

Chasing Monkeys in Colombia for Nat Geo

Behind The Shot

The Mission

The world of wildlife filmmaking is full of unknowns.  Will I see any animals?  Will I capture interesting behavior?  Will the weather cooperate? We generally go into the

field equipped with the right gear, a lot of research, and a general willingness to suffer to get the shot.  But beyond those things, we just hope that we actually see an animal when are cameras are rolling.

On a recent trip to Colombia in search of albino brown spider monkeys, the odds were definitely not in our favor.  There are only two (yes, 2) of these albinos known to exist in the wild and we had a short window to find them and tell their story.  Brown spider monkeys are critically endangered and their habitat is severely fragmented.  This has caused genetic bottlenecking and, as a result, albinism in one of the family groups.  These albinos are incredibly beautiful, but they bring a pretty sobering message about the fate of a species when populations become isolated.

Our mission was to find the monkeys, tell their story through the voice of the local researcher, and create a portrait of the stunning biodiversity of this threatened area.  We had 8 days to do it.  Without the help of the researchers and field guides who study these monkeys, we would have never accomplished our goal. Their knowledge of the area and the animals was invaluable.  A huge thanks goes out to all of them.

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The Gear 

We knew we wanted to shoot the natural history and wildlife in 4K.  We also knew we needed a lens that could reach way into the canopy.  For this reason our primary setup was a Sony FS7, Tamron 150-600 EF and a Metabones EF/NEX Smart Adapter.  It was great to try out this new offering from Sony.  It’s quite an amazing camera for the price. We also shot on a Canon C300 and with a 100-400L as a backup and second camera.  Knowing we were going to edit and deliver in 1080 made this a good choice for b-cam.  Editing in 1080 also gave us the freedom to punch in on the 4K footage if needed.

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We had a variety of lenses with us as well, most of which seemed to get used at one point or another.  Canon 35L, 24L, 100L Macro, 24-105L, Tokina 11-16mm, and a few Rokinon Cine primes.  We shot timelapses on a 5Dmk3 and a 6D, aerials on a Phantom 2 with GoPRO 3+, and jib shots on a Kessler Pocket Jib.  We also had a new set of Cartoni sticks – the Stabilo with Focus HD head – and they worked incredibly well.  It’s a great lightweight setup and handled the weight of the Sony FS7 and long lens quite nicely.

The Experience 

This is was my third trip to Colombia and my second with the purpose of filming monkeys.  It is such an exciting place to travel right now.  Years of conflict have created many stigmas around the country but it seems that Colombians are putting that behind them in a headlong rush towards the future.  The energy and frenetic pace of the country can be a bit overwhelming, but when you leave the hustle of Bogota and get into the wilderness you truly realize how unique this place is.

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Many of you already know that the the tropical jungle is a very difficult place to work.  The bugs alone are enough to deter even the most masochistic explorer.  But just when you think you might actually being going crazy from clouds of mosquitoes and sweltering heat and humidity, something beautiful pops into view and the suffering melts away. We were fortunate to see dozens of animals in their native habitats.  Sloths, caimans, parrots, primates, and bumble bees the size of golf balls.  Most important for us however were the two albino brothers.  As luck would have it, we were able to film these incredible ghosts of the forest for several hours.  They ate, they wrestled, they stared down at us with big, curious eyes from the top of the canopy.  It’s incredible to see these giant white figures in treetops, flying through the branches with their prehensile tails.   But, as beautiful as they are, they are reminders of the tenuous situation in Colombia.  They are markers of a genetic problem.  Populations of spider monkeys need space to grow and find suitable mates.  They need large tracts of unbroken forests so they can find enough fruit to eat.  But, more than anything, they need us to value wilderness as much as we value the GDP.

The Film 

The film can be seen here:

About the Author

Danny Schmidt is a Colorado-based DP and Director.  He is a graduate of the MFA program in science and nature filmmaking at Montana State University and works  extensively for National Geographic, PBS, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and lots of other TV and non-profit entities.

Insta: @danny_Schmidt

Twitter: @dawgschmidt

Red Bull GRC Action Sports Photography with Garth Milan


Action sports photography has taken me all over the world, and my latest trip was to Sin City, where I spent two days shooting the final round of the 2014 Red Bull GRC series for, you guessed it, Red Bull. The event was just off of the Strip at the Linq Casino and Resort, at the base of the newly constructed High Roller Ferris wheel.


Beard and Mustache Championships 2014


Guest Post by Greg Anderson

I shot the Beard and Mustache Championships in New Orleans in 2013 and had so much fun I to go back and do it again in Portland. Between the two, I photographed a few smaller local competitions, one in Vegas and one in Sacramento, but none of the others compare with the National or World Championships.


10 Wicked Portraits and Halloween Shooting Tips

Tips & Tricks

Fall is the landscape photographer’s dream season but Halloween is when portrait photographers get all of the fun! Check out the images below, plus gain some shooting tips from working photographers. Let the shapes and shadows of the night inspire you and have a safe and happy Halloween from everyone at BorrowLenses! (more…)

22 Fall Photographs That Will Inspire You to Get Out and Shoot


Fall is the photographer’s dream season and we asked photographers both experienced and new to share fall photos that we hope will inspire you. From traditional landscapes, to football, and autumn weddings, here is what fall means to these shooters. Learn what they used to capture the scene and gather ideas for your own adventures. We’d love to see your fall photography in the comments below. (more…)

Behind the Shot: Alone In The Dark

Behind The Shot

Behind the Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Find out the backstory of how David Crewe captured this one-in-a-million moment while out on his first time-lapse. 

Alone in the Dark

Photographer/Filmer/Editor: David Crewe (more…)

Behind the Shot: Milky Way

Behind The Shot

Behind the Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Find out the backstory of how Michael Bonocore captured this clear and peaceful image on the outskirts of Mount Shasta. 



Photographer/Filmer/Editor: Michael Bonocore (more…)

Behind The Shot: Rocking Up Close

Behind The Shot

Behind The Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Photographer/Filmer/Editor: Curt Dennis

Gear: Canon T2iSigma 17-70mm 2.8

Settings: 17mm, 1/200th second @f/2.8, ISO 400

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Backstory: I’ve been photographing concerts for the past 9 or so months. I usually do local photography, but managed to obtain a pass for a festival in Florida, Fort Rock. It was a really great time, and this is a picture of Korn bassist Fieldy. I hadn’t seen Korn live or read anything about them, so I didn’t expect him to be so photogenic. The entire set, Fieldy in particularly, really played with the crowd. This shot was just either perfect placement by me, or Fieldy being really cool. He got right in front of me and started playing just like this. When I was going back through my photos, I didn’t realize I caught such a great shot where everything lined up: he’s in focus, exposed, and there’s some slight flare going on which I love. Definitely a fun band to photograph, and one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken.

Check out more of Curt’s work on his website & Facebook page.

If you like this photo be sure to share it! Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Affiliate Tips: Creating Custom Links

Tips & Tricks

Whether you are writing a gear review, talking about a lens you used on a recent shoot, or promoting a new camera, linking to a specific product with a custom link will lead your readers to gear they are more likely to rent and increase the chance that you will earn commission. You can create your own custom links in three simple steps utilizing the ShareASale Custom Link Tool!

Sign up to become a BorrowLenses affiliate and start earning your commissions today!

STEP 1: Copy Destination URL

This is the URL to the page where your readers would land after clicking the link – typically this is a deep link to a category page, a sale page, a specific product page.

STEP1 (more…)

Behind The Shot: Sparring Bears

Behind The Shot

Behind The Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Aikenhead, Sparring Bears Photographer/Filmer/Editor: Lisa Aikenhead

Gear: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400 f4.5/5.6L IS USM lens, Gitzo tripod, Really Right Stuff Ballhead (more…)

Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting


Longer days, weddings, and vacations – there is a lot to look forward to in spring (unless you’re a night-photographing curmudgeon workaholic – you know who you are). Here are some inspirational images from our friends that exude “spring” to them in their own way. Hopefully they will inspire you to stay out late (or stay inside the studio – the sun is overrated anyway) and shoot, shoot, shoot! (more…)

Finding Stolen Gear Through Images: Lenstag Rescue

BL News

Lenstag, the free service that collects serial numbers from your lenses and cameras and keeps them in a registry to be flagged in the unfortunate event that they get stolen, aims to officially match all gear serials as belonging to its owner and, thus, the reselling and pawning of stolen gear becomes increasingly discouraged. The more people who register the gear, the more effective the registry system is and now the search for hot items has grown with a new Chrome extension called Lenstag Rescue. (more…)

Behind The Shot: Apostle Islands Sea Caves

Behind The Shot

Behind The Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

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Photographer/Filmer/Edior: Alex Fraser

Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, mini-tripod

Settings: ISO 100, f/11, 7-exp HDR

Backstory: The Apostle Islands Sea Caves, along the shore of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin, are usually only accessible by kayak on calm Summer days. In certain Winter conditions, however (a long cold snap, and a lack of northwest winds), enough ice can form to make them accessible on foot. With the caves open for the first time in five years, some friends and I made the four hour drive from Minneapolis to see the sight.

I shoot with a wide angle lens for 95% of my landscapes, so I was packing light with just my 5DMk3 body and the Rokinon 14mm. The Rokinon is full-manual, which can get a little fiddly up close, but for most landscapes you can just focus at infinity (which for the lens means anything further away than ten feet) with a narrow aperture and fire away. I was shooting 7-exposure HDR (-3 stops to +3) with auto-exposure bracketing in aperture priority mode, so I moved the ISO settings around to match shutter speeds with what I could reasonably hold steady by hand most of the time, but for a few of the shots inside the caves I let the mini-tripod get low and take some longer exposures at ISO 100.

Alex lives in Minneapolis, MN, and shoots mostly sports and landscapes, but he’ll shoot your wedding too if you like his style. He keeps a running gallery of his favorite photos on his 500px page. Check out all of the photos from his Apostle Islands trip.

If you like this photo be sure to share it! Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Behind The Shot: The Line Between (Video)

Behind The Shot

Behind The Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Photographer/Filmer/Edior: Long Nguyen

Gear: Canon 5D Mark IICanon 7DCanon 70-200 f2.8Canon 17-40 F4Tonika 10-17 FisheyeCustom SLR M-plate MiniCustom SLR M-Plate ProCustom SLR Glide OneCustom SLR C-LoopF-Stop Gear LokaF-Stop Gear Satori EXPF-Stop Gear Lightroom RollerGlide Cam 2000, Fotopro Carbon Tripod, Manfroto 701 Head, DIY Dolly, Sennheiser MKE 400

Backstory: What’s better than riding your bike? Riding your bike with your friends. Early last year, my friends Christian Wright, Marshall Mullen, and I wanted to shoot a short mountain bike video together. Christian and Marshall had never ridden together, so it was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. After exchanging some emails and phone calls, I came up with the idea of filming at Christian’s and Marshall’s homes. They were not only known for their riding abilities, but for their dirt jumps and locations where they lived. To many riders, it’s heaven, and their popularity grew over the years due to that.

Usually with most projects, you will have a partner in crime to help you film and photograph. Over the years, I have always completed projects on my own. It’s no easy task, and The Line Between was the hardest project I have produced to date. It was hard to juggle everyone’s schedule since most of us are always traveling, and I did all the filming, photographing, editing, and distributing.

When going in to the project I knew it was going to be tough, but I knew Christian and Marshall were hard workers. It’s always nice working on a project with others who are just as dedicated and motivated as you are. Both Christian and Marshall had spent weeks preparing their yards for the shoot. They worked from sun up to sun down, and every part of the jumps had to be watered, packed, and perfectly shaped. It really is a work of art. When it was time to start the project, I only had a short 5 days to shoot at Christian’s and Marshall’s homes. When I say short, we could only shoot early in the morning and at golden hour (sunset). That is when the light is at it’s best. Our goals were to film 2 days on the backyard, 2 days on the trails and 1 day as back up.

Thankfully we were able to complete what we needed in 8 days. As hard as it was for me, it was just as hard for the riders. Not only did I need them to ride sections over and over to get the footage, but I needed them to do just as much to get the photographs. By the end of each day, we were exhausted. Overall, I thought the project came out pretty well. We all worked really hard together, and we had a blast producing it together. I felt that we all had the right chemistry, and when dots connect, magic happens. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

Check out all of the photos from this project.

Long Nguyen is an adventure/sports journalist, and goes wherever his camera takes him – for the thrill of an adventure and the action of the sport. Long enjoys photographing many things but his emphasis is in mountain biking. He’s feels lucky to have the opportunities to travel the world and meet new people on all of his journeys. Long thanks his family and friends for all of their support & continues to live for the quest for amazing photography.

Check out more of Long’s work.

If you like this video be sure to share it! Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!