Creative Jump Start: Shooting with Fisheye and Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses

Creative Jump Start: Shooting with Fisheye and Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator, and an Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. His Jump Start series provides photographers with the informative ideas to effectively experiment with alternative photographic equipment. Creative Jump Start: Shooting with Fisheye and Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses by Seán Duggan On my recent Autumn & Aurora Discoveries workshop in Iceland, I decided to step outside my usual focal length comfort zone and do some experimenting with a 15mm fisheye lens on my full-frame Canon DSLR. BorrowLenses.com is a great resource that makes it easy to take different gear for a test drive and I really appreciate the large selection they have. Sometimes a lens is needed for a very specific purpose but at other times I’ll try out a lens simply because it offers such a different perspective from the lenses I normally use. This was the case with the 15mm f/2.8 lens. Most of my wide-angle shots are made at the 24mm focal length, with occasional images made with a 16–35mm. I knew, however, that the 15mm would offer a much different perspective than the 16mm. It is technically only one millimeter of focal length difference but the level of distortion is significantly more with the 15mm lens. Although the super wide angle-of-view was quite useful for some shots, it was actually the distortion that I was most interested in. Shooting straight at the horizon yielded an image that was very wide with not too much distortion but tilting the camera either up or down yielded a very pronounced curvature of the horizon. Tilting up...
1 Easy Way to Guarantee Your Photography Will Improve

1 Easy Way to Guarantee Your Photography Will Improve

How do you make every day count as a photographer? How do you make every day count for yourself? There is 1 major project that thousands of people start every January 1st that improves their lives and it has nothing to do with going to the gym. Photo-a-Day, or 365 Projects, is the secret to success for many photographers of every level. They are fun, challenging, sometimes mundane, sometimes exhilarating, and always a great teacher. Why do people commit to taking a photograph every day for a year – rain or shine, sickness or heath, inspired or not? I will explain the main reasons why Photo-a-Day goals are healthy, what you can do with the results, and how to get started. 3 Reasons to Start Taking 1 Photo Every Day: Presence, Practice, and Purpose Your only requirement for starting a Photo-a-Day project is the desire to participate. There are 3 main reasons photographers make this commitment: Presence, Practice, and Purpose. Let’s look at each one in detail. Presence In art and in life we’re thinking about the next big thing. A Photo-a-Day goal makes you think about right now. Looking for something meaningful, interesting, or even funny to photograph every single day helps to slow down time. Mindfulness gives you heightened awareness of your surroundings and you start seeing the photogenic in everything. Over time, your eye gets better and more discerning which allows you to walk away from every situation with more winning shots than duds. Your everyday environment may look very different to you at the end of the year than it does today. Practice The daily discipline...
Have All Your Holiday Pictures Become The Same? Try Telling A Photo Story

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

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. The Checklist A good way to start is by considering what your story or angle will be before you even pick up a camera. Plan ahead the shots which will be most critical, whether they are portraits or wide angle landscapes, that best tell your story. Having a loosely memorized shot list will increase your chances of capturing those key moments as they arise, since there will be many distractions while you shoot. Follow the Same Rules as Writing Whether you are blogging, sharing on social media, making a scrapbook, or submitting for publication your viewers will need to understand the context of your pictures. As you shoot, remember the who, what, when, where, and why. Your goal is to explain to viewers the reasons for your subject’s actions. Variety is the Spice of Life To tell a bigger more compelling story, shoot the subject or event from a range of viewpoints. Understanding beforehand how you would like your photographs to be read...
Personal Bests of 2014 – Get Inspired and Share Yours

Personal Bests of 2014 – Get Inspired and Share Yours

We celebrate progress on all levels – whether you’re a pro trying to stretch your personal limits or a novice who just learned how to shoot manually. We get better every year that we stick to our photographic and cinematic goals. Here are the personal favorites of 2014 from a variety of our employees, friends, and partners from all backgrounds, styles, and skill levels. Check out the images and videos below, see what they shot with, and get inspired. This is one of Seán Duggan’s favorite images from 2014. He took it while deep inside an ice cave that extended 300 meters back beneath an Iceland glacier. His guide provided the perfect sense of scale for this enormous “room”. This is an HDR blend of 3 exposures shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Want to get a shot like this? Join Duggan on his next workshop, Winter Landscapes, Ice Caves, and Auroras, in March, 2015. In his worldwide workshops, Michael Corsentino teaches students how to achieve fashion and glamor portraits like this City Girl Fashion editorial he shot in Brooklyn. Corsentino lit this scene with a Profoto B1 Air Flash and an Elinchrom Deep Octa. His work and travels can be followed on Instagram: @corsentino. Travel dominates every year of Michael Bonocore’s life and 2014 was no exception. He ran the second camera for a SmugMug Films production on the adventures of surf photographer Chris Burkard. Burkard documented a group of surfers braving blizzards, high winds, and freezing temperatures in search of the perfect wave. When Bonocore wasn’t shooting slow motion of Burkard in action on...
Getting Started: Environmental Portraits

Getting Started: Environmental Portraits

Portrait photography is a very common entry port into a burgeoning photographic hobby or even career. There are several main categories of portrait photography, environmental portraits being one of the first attempted due to its accessibility. To accomplish a successful environmental portrait you do not need a studio, elaborate lighting techniques, or hair and make-up specialists. What you do need, however, is a vision or a story that you wish to tell that works in balance with the subject you are photographing. Read on to find out what to keep in mind when first embarking on this style of photography to increase your success of creating impactful photographs. Let’s first start by explaining what we mean when the term ‘Environmental Portrait’ is thrown around. It is a portrait taken of a subject that interacts and has meaning with the environment it is in. The portrait not only relies on the subject but also the context, clues, and points of interest which are given to the viewer to determine a background story. What is the difference between an environmental portrait, standard portrait, and candid portrait you ask? A standard portrait’s intention is to focus solely on the subject, relying on expression, physical characteristics, and lighting to communicate an impression. The difference with an environmental portrait, as the name suggests, is setting. It is generally shot with a wider lens to include more context of the scene, and offers the subject an environment that can put them at ease, sharing the attention with their surroundings. There can be a fine line between an environmental portrait and a candid photograph which is dependent on circumstance. The subject, whether a planned session or someone who has...
22 Fall Photographs That Will Inspire You to Get Out and Shoot

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. Enjoy your journey this fall and shoot, shoot, shoot before the color...
SmugMug Films Showcase the World’s Most Exciting Photographers

SmugMug Films Showcase the World’s Most Exciting Photographers

We are ecstatic about the new SmugMug Film series that showcases the world’s most epic and exciting photographers working today. The dedication and drive of these photographers is demonstrated in the short videos that give a behind-the-lens look at the people who capture beauty and wonder each day with their cameras. Each video is hand made by SmugMug’s very own staff using some of BL’s gear. They sometimes brave harsh conditions in order to capture the spirit of the photographer’s working style – other times they get to bask in the sun and absorb some of the fun that photographers help create. SmugMug created this series to inspire passion and encourage you to get out and push yourself to new photographic limits. SmugMug Films was created to inspire, celebrate, and share the love for the the art of photography. The featured photographers have pushed all limits to pursue a passion and capture images of raw beauty in unimaginable places. Check out more of the amazing photographers of the world by subscribing to SmugMug Films’ YouTube channel to get first access to each new episode. Watch these extraordinary people follow their dream to create breathtaking images that stop us in our tracks. The next time you are lacking photography inspiration check out some of these SmugMug Films to get your creativity flowing and challenge yourself to a new...
Bird Photography Advice from Nature Photographer David Bernstein

Bird Photography Advice from Nature Photographer David Bernstein

As the weather gets warmer and daylight hours are lengthened, those who have been stuck inside for the long winter months are ready to begin exploring the great outdoors once again with camera in tow.  I caught up with local wildlife photographer David Bernstein to answer a few questions regarding his experiences. 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 creatures large and small. He especially loves photographing birds and has graciously shared a few tips for those of us looking to brush up on our skills or begin a new photographic hobby. Kymberly: How did you get into bird photography? David: My father is a very talented photographer and I guess you can say that his passion for photography rubbed off on me at an early age. He built a darkroom in our house and gave me one of his old Pentax 35mm cameras around age 5.  My favorite things to photograph were squirrels and birds in the yard. For my 7th or 8th birthday he got me a cheap, used 300mm lens so I could get “better” shots of the sparrows.  Fast forward to 2008, after a hiatus from photography, I was taking my dog for a walk in the park and I noticed a really odd/cool-looking duck in the stream. I had never seen a duck like that before and I was determined to figure out what it was.  I went back the next day with my Canon Rebel, which had a 250mm lens attached, and luckily the duck was still there....
Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

StudentStock isn’t your average stock photography site. It’s populated by imagery created by students of all ages and a certain percentage of the proceeds goes towards scholarships. Started by a couple of photography teachers, StudentStock is a launchpad for students who are creating great work but need a platform for selling. It helps beginning photographers grow their skills, develop a sense of what sells, and, ultimately, be a part of the stock photography marketplace that is often so hard to find success in. The following photographers are on that path to success. They recently won the Call to Action photo contest, put on by StudentStock with support from BorrowLenses. See their winning entries below! 1st Place: Kirk Yarnell – California State University, East Bay Taken in Bend, Oregon during a roundup, Yarnell captured this back in 1994 so, yes kids, this was taken on film! Yarnell has been shooting since 1980 and currently lives in Mt. Shasta, California. 2nd Place: Shannon Fuller – Butte College Fuller tried to get this shot with 4 different dogs before getting the exact one she was looking for. She used a Nikon 70-200mm to capture this moment from a distance to avoid getting soaked herself! She froze the action at 1/1600th of a second. 3rd Place: Ben Meester – Butte College After a storm, Meester set out to one of his favorite back-country spots in Tahoe to get this shot. He used a Canon 14mm for an effective vista of the first run of the day. Runner Up: Aaron Alvarez – Santa Ann College Taken at Newport Beach, CA with a Canon 5D...