BL Blog


Leverage Multiple Camera Platforms with Adapters

Gear Talk

Recently, I completed a shoot for an article written by our own Alex Huff for 500px’s ISO blog. For it, I returned to my trusty old 5D Mark II and an even older lens: a Nikon 100mm f/2.8 AiS lens that’s at least 30 years old.

For me, the results were well past what I’d expected from the setup.


Planning for Safari: Photography Tips and Tricks

Tips & Tricks

It’s safe to say that an African safari is on most wildlife photographers’ destination wish list. It is a trip many will never get the chance to do due to the extensive travel and time requirements as well as the significant financial expense. However, for those lucky enough to set out on the incredible journey it’s not as simple as picking a destination, hotel, and plane ticket. There is a significant amount of preparation and planning that must be done ahead of time. advocate and wildlife photographer David Bernstein recently returned from his epic safari trip and graciously shared a few tips he learned along the way. Bernstein started out using a humble Rebel series camera and over time grew into being what he calls a “photo-naturalist”, taking pictures of landscapes and wildlife with an affinity for birds. This article is meant to help you plan for an African photo-focused safari and address many of the things to consider before embarking on the journey of a lifetime.


A Trip to the Bottom of the World: Photographing Antarctica

Tips & Tricks

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 locations like Kenya, Uganda, Nepal, Morocco and more. Recently back from a trip to Antarctica, Tatooles shares some helpful knowledge for making the most of a polar adventure. In his pack, Dean carried Nikon D3s and D800E DSLR bodies with Nikkor AFS 80-400mm f 4.5-5.6 ED VR and 70-200mm f2.8 G AF-S ED VRII lenses. Continue reading to find out what Tatooles suggests when considering a trip to the frozen continent.


The New Nikon D5500

BL News Gear Talk

Nikon’s newest iteration of their entry level DSLR, the D5500, has just been added to the inventory here at! Jonathan Fleming, manager of the VIP department, took it for a whirl and for its size and stature was impressed by its capabilities. Continue reading to find out his full review! (more…)

A Comparison of 50mm Lenses

Gear Talk
There has been a sizable number of 50mm lenses that have flooded an already saturated market in the past 5 years. For example, there is the affordable and dependable Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G (~$200), the much talked-about Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art (~$1,000), and the luxurious Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus (~$4,000). What are the major differences between these (other than the Zeiss being a 55mm) and the collection of other 50mm lenses out there? When is it better to splurge rather than shoot more modestly? We quickly put 19 lenses to the test, old and new, to see how they compare to one another.  All images were captured on the Sony Alpha a7R with a Metabones Canon EF to Sony NEX Smart Adapter IIIMetabones Nikon G to Sony NEX Adapter, and a Sony LA-EA3.


Have All Your Holiday Pictures Become The Same? Try Telling A Photo Story

Photographers Tips & Tricks

The holiday season is in full swing and for many of us it is a time to spend with friends and family, some of whom we may not get to see often. Is it great to have that group shot of long lost friends or 3 generations of family in one frame? YES! But why not test your skills this year at telling a photographic story. Follow these simple steps to communicate just how beautiful, exciting, or sentimental your time was spent over the holidays. Doing so just might jog those memories ever more clearly in the years to come and leave you with something to always cherish.


BorrowLenses Year in Review: The Cameras of 2013

Gear Talk

2013 is a record year for new camera models at, which means having the biggest selection of models we’ve ever had. There is something for every kind of photographer, from mirrorless pocket cameras to huge 60+ megapixel medium format DLSRs. We selected a bunch of our favorites from this bountiful season. Discover what’s available for exploration in our year-in-review. (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!

Moose Peterson’s Shooting Tips for the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Super Telephoto Lens

Gear Talk

Moose Peterson is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, Lexar Elite Photographer, recipient of the John Muir Conservation Award, and a Research Associate with the Endangered Species Recovery Program. Moose has a passion for photographing wildlife and wild places and educating the public about our wild heritage. He has been published in over 142 magazines worldwide and is the author of 26 books, including Photographic FUNdamentals. Moose has shot with a lot of super telephoto lenses and the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 is among his favorites. See why in his quick review with sample images. (more…)

New Gear: The Metabones Nikon to Fuji Speedbooster

Gear Talk

Not too long ago, following the release of Fuji’s most recent firmware update for its X lineup of cameras, I posted an article about extending the Fuji system with Leica lenses using the Fuji X mount to Leica M mount adapter. Indeed, this adapter, along with the Leica 90mm Summarit f/2.5 lens, is my standard portrait setup today.

Recently, however, we got in yet another adapter for the Fuji X-mount, and this one’s a total doozy.


Small Cameras with Big Impact: Traveling Light without Compromising Quality

Gear Talk

Don’t get us wrong – we LOVE our big cameras, especially those pro bodies with huge, high-quality glass. Lugging it around, however, is not so ideal – especially while on vacation or during situations where there just isn’t a lot of room to shoot.

High-quality sensors are coming in smaller and smaller form factors, which is good news for globe-trekking photographers or for those who simply need to pack lightly. These small cameras are perfect for:

  • Hiking to get that great sunrise/sunset shot from a high vantage.
  • Inconspicuously taking candids out on the street.
  • Using auto or fully-manual settings on a simplified system.

Here are 5 recommended small cameras with incredible image quality: (more…)

Multiple Flash Firing with Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting System Using Pop-up Flash

Tips & Tricks

Topics Covered:

  • Setting Commander Mode for your Nikon camera and firing off-camera Speedlights using a pop-up flash.
  • Assigning multiple flashes to groups A and B to control from your Nikon camera’s Commander Mode.
  • Adjusting your flash channel, illumination pattern, and zoom position. (more…)

Cool Stuff — Week of May 27, 2013

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

  • We rent a lot of fancy video gear, but if you find yourself up at over 13,000 feet needing, for example, a boom or dolly or jib, you might be well-served watching this video from our friend Chase Jarvis on how to improvise when necessary. (more…)

One Strobe, One Trigger, One Camera, and a lot of Luck: Behind the Scenes with Von Wong Photography

Tips & Tricks

Photographer Benjamin Von Wong set out to the Salton Sea with some dart rope and a crew of chance encounters who were excited to make the trek to help out with this dramatic shoot. Check out the spectacular results below!

Luck, Fire, and a Failed Ecosystem
by Von Wong Photography, reprinted with permission.


Learning To Leave The Matrix – A Tip On DSLR Light Metering

Tips & Tricks

With our dependence on LCD screens to give us immediate exposure feedback, knowing how to meter light is at risk of quickly become a fading skill. In this guest blog post you will learn how your DSLR meters light and what that means for your photography. This is a great intro for beginners as well as an easy reminder for the more seasoned shooter. (more…)