BL Blog

The Coolest Stuff of 2013

Cool Stuff

Every week we curate the coolest recent video tutorials, time lapses, tips, and behind-the-scenes shoots. As the year draws to a close, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites of 2013. There is a little something for everyone in this list of 10. We hope these videos teach you new tricks, inspire you to take on interesting projects, and help you meet greater personal goals in 2014.

This video is meditative, showing Luis Oliveira Santos’ exacting process of palladium printing. Modernity and tradition collide when he tries printing the Leica Monochrom’s digital files in a way typically only suited for medium and large format film. The results are beautiful:


The Five Best Lenses For the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Gear Talk

I’ve been playing with the BMPCC (Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera) for a few weeks now, and have, after much experimentation, finally narrowed the massive selection available for this camera (especially via adapters of various sorts) down to my 5 essential picks. Here they are, in no particular order… (more…)

Behind The Shot: Remote Birding

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!

Anna's Hummingbird Nest

Photographer: Michael Chen

Gear: Nikon D3Nikon 400mm f/2.8D AF-S, TC-14E II 1.4x, Nikon SB-900 SpeedlightsPocket Wizard MultiMAX transceiversManfrotto Magic Arms, Gitzo 3-series Tripod

Settings: ISO 1600, f/9, 1/250 – Flash Power @ 1/16

Backstory: One of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve been getting is how I shot the hummingbird nests with the mother feeding her chick.  Most of the time, I actually trigger a camera remotely using Pocket Wizard MultiMAX transceivers.  A remote camera allows me to keep some distance between me and the nest, lessening the amount of attention I draw to the nest area.  In general, nesting hummingbirds in a suburban environment do not mind a human presence and adapt quickly to a humans that they perceive as nonthreatening; however, one’s presence will draw and hold the attention of predators, such as crows and jays, and make it easier for the nest to be discovered.  The angles I can shoot from are also expanded by using the remote camera, as I can squeeze the camera and lens into places where it would be hard for me to be looking through the viewfinder.

Here, I’ve taken advantage of a nearby tree house-type structure and have placed the still camera on a tripod; the tree house allows me to simply use a tripod instead of having to be more creative in safely suspending the camera up in a tree.  The lens on the Nikon D3 camera is a Nikon 400mm f/2.8D AF-S; the tripod used here is a Gitzo 3-series.  I used a TC-14E II 1.4x teleconverter on the 400mm f/2.8 to fill more of the frame with the hummingbird and her nest, though I ultimately still had to crop off quite a bit of empty space.  Two SB-900 flashes, also triggered by the Pocket Wizard MultiMAX transceivers (using the relay mode function), freeze the motion of the mother and chick, and allowing me to shoot at f/16 for sufficient depth of field to keep everything important in focus.  The flashes are held in place by Manfrotto Magic Arms and allow me to position the flashes wherever I need them.


After I set everything up- carefully and hopefully unnoticed by predators- all I have left to do is find a place to stay out of sight while being able to observe when the mother has returned to the nest, and then trigger the camera to make some images.  Remaining vigilant and patient at the same time is key to capturing the mother feeding the chick, as while the mother will feed the chick many times per hour, the actual moment of feeding is quick and fleeting; one can easily miss the mother entirely even while positioned close to the nest.


More of Michael’s hummingbird photos can be seen here and here.

Check out more of Michael’s work on his website.

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!

Things to Know about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Raw Update (with Some Sample Footage)

Gear Talk

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is one of the newest additions to our inventory, and is already in demand — every single unit we currently have in our inventory is checked out for the next two weeks at least, so get your orders in as soon as possible. This tiny little package packs a wallop when it comes to delivering outstanding image quality, and as of a couple of weeks ago, it is also the smallest camera in the world that shoots RAW video. (more…)

What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

Gear Talk

A while back, we did a piece on what to know when renting Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back. Medium format gear is a pretty different creature from your standard DSLR, even your high-end Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4’s. Like my colleague Alex Huff pointed out, it can be “perhaps a little scary.”

Here are a few more things you should keep in mind when shooting with the Medium Format gear, especially with the 80MP IQ280 Phase One back.


The Nutritional Facts of a Successful Photography Business

Tips & Tricks

Jay Cassario is a wedding, engagement, and portrait photographer with additional passion for landscape and star photography, which has earned him publications by National Geographic. He is a regular contributor to SLR Lounge.

The Nutritional Facts of a Successful Photography Business (more…)

10 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

Gear Talk

Plane travel can be a source of anxiety for photographers. Checking bags isn’t safe for most gear and being able to skip the baggage claim carousels is always a bonus anyway – especially around the holidays. There are a lot of small items to shoot with, including high-quality mirrorless cameras, tiny lenses, and small flash gear. However, it is sometimes hard to skimp on support systems, lighting, and storage in order to save space. Rolling bags, tripods, and light stands all tend to be a pain to try and take on a plane. (more…)

Cool Stuff — November 24, 2013

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a recurring feature where we post our favorite links, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

Cool Stuff articles are culled from BLFlip, the official Flipboard Magazine of If you’ve got an iOS or Android device, you can download the Flipboard app for free now.

  • We begin this edition of Cool Stuff with an update about one of our favorite new cameras: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. This diminutive thing can now shoot RAW! We’ve got some footage in the editing bay now, so stay tuned for more on this. (more…)

Behind The Shot: Redbull Athlete Profile

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!

Kenny Belaey - Action

Photographer: Long Nguyen/ Red Bull Content Pool

Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark IITokina 10-17mm Fisheye, Alien Bee/White Lighting 1600, Pocketwizard Flex TT5 , Human Tripod (my friend Thil)

Settings: ISO 100, f/8, 1/500

Backstory: This was a last minute shoot. World Champion trails bike athlete Kenny Belaey was visiting SF to do demo for the Golden State Warriors half time game. Kenny had just gotten off of an injury and this was his 2nd time riding. I had a very limited time window to work with Kenny. When I pulled into our location in Pacifica, I noticed a boulder on top of the hill. I knew I wanted a shot from up there.

After Kenny warmed up we hiked to the top. I peaked over the cliff and ask if he would rear tire stale his bike on the ledge. I really didn’t know what to expect since it was a dangerous maneuver and Kenny was not at 100%. He peaked over the ledge and said let’s do it. Kenny is a talented athlete and great to work with. Wether I saw something he did or vise versa, we were able to make it work. The whole shoot in about 2 hours and we left knowing that we had made some great images.

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.

Kenny Belaey - Portrait

Check out more of Long’s work on his website.

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!

10 Tips for Better Architectural Photographs from a Former Architect

Tips & Tricks

Architect-turned-photographer John Cooper has spent the last year converting his three decades of building experience into high quality architectural images.  Despite already having the knowledge of a registered architect and member of the American Institute of Architects, Cooper has learned a lot through trial and error after changing roles and capturing the structures he once helped to create. Here are his 10 pieces of advice for aspiring architectural photographers.

10 Tips for Better Architectural Photographs from a Former Architect (more…)

First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

Gear Talk

Panasonic’s GX7 boasts in-body stabilization, up to 40 FPS using an electronic shutter, and Light Speed AF all inside a super stylish design with a comfortable rubber grip. One of BL’s biggest micro four thirds enthusiasts took it out for a spin – check out the results below, along with some personal observations on performance and features.

IMG_3134 (more…)

Behind The Shot: Artillery Mission

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: Sean Huolihan

Gear: Nikon D600Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S ED VR

Settings: 390 Images, 30 sec exposures, ISO 200, 24-85mm @ 24mm, f/10

Backstory: I took this during my deployment to Afghanistan. I had been waiting months for the right nighttime visibility and had never seen a star trail image with a HIMARS launcher and just thought it would make an awesome shot. The final image was composed of 390 stacked photos. I am currently a SGT serving in the WI National Guard and working on becoming a full-time photographer.

Read more about Sean in “Soldier focuses on documenting historic Guard artillery mission“.

Check out more of Sean’s work here.

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!

Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Gear Talk

Court Leve, a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California, reviews Nikon’s D610 DSLR. Find out how it compares not only to its immediate predecessor, the D600, but also to the D800, D300s, D700, and D3s. The D600 was famously fraught with controversy surrounding its oil and dust build-up issues and many believe the D610 is a smoke n mirrors release put in place to prevent a formal D600 recall. Find out if the D610 is a true upgrade or merely a less expensive substitute for other full frames on the market.

Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images
by Court Leve

Nikon’s D610 is an updated version of their D600 and includes a couple of internal improvements:

• Increase in frame rate from 5.5 to 6 FPS

• Installation of an improved shutter mechanism, replacing the version on the D600 that apparently was the point of much contention with regards to oil or dust on the sensor. (more…)

10 Great Outdoor Photography Gifts Under $100

Gear Talk

Join a Muench Workshop and explore the world with your camera.

Marc Muench, Andy Williams, and David Rosenthal are passionate about photography and teaching. They host workshops all over the world specializing in wildlife and landscape photography. They put together a list of 10 great photography gifts under $100 (and we’re smitten to be included in that list)!

10 Great Photography Gifts Under $100
reprinted with permission by Muench Workshops (more…)

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,, 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. (more…)