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...
7 Tips You’ll Want to Know Before Gorilla or Chimpanzee Trekking

7 Tips You’ll Want to Know Before Gorilla or Chimpanzee Trekking

  For those of you who have seen Gorillas in the Mist, in Uganda the vision of sweeping mountains and dense jungle masked in a coat of soft mist is very real. The indigenous people have aptly named the gorilla’s home the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Impenetrable is, at times, an understatement. If you have ever photographed in rainforests or jungles, you have undoubtedly encountered moisture problems. The majority of fellow wildlife photographers know too well about the annoying spot of condensation that appears deep inside the confines of a lens right as the lens cap is removed, often happening at the most inopportune times. One way to deter moisture is to avoid removing your lens from your camera body and leaving it out of your pack as much as possible in the open air. Utilizing one lens may be difficult for those who travel with one body, so bringing along a back up lens is strongly suggested. If this isn’t possible, try putting on an 80-200mm lens and leaving it on until your trek is complete. If you encounter lens condensation while in the field, place your lens in a warm, dry place or in direct sunlight until the moisture clears. No. 2:  Wear Comfortable Hiking Boots and Gaiters One of the most important tips is to bring along ankle-high hiking boots and knee-high gaiters to wear during your trek. On your way to find the gorillas or chimpanzees, you will traverse up steep inclines and scale down slippery slopes for hours – often cutting your way through dense jungle by machete. There is a lot of life in the...
What do Meditation and Macro Photography Have in Common?

What do Meditation and Macro Photography Have in Common?

Macro photography is much like a meditation practice: there must be a willingness to experiment outside your comfort zone, practiced patience, and a dedication to learning. The genre has been a popular niche for decades and now with easier accessibility to the tools it takes to create this kind of photo, there are a few ideas it is best to understand first. With its popularity there is a lot of technical information available that can be difficult to understand when you are first starting out. Whether you are shooting detailed still lives or capturing your environment in a new perspective, there are certain things to consider that will aid in your success and help you avoid defeating frustration. Understanding the most important questions to ask yourself and why its important to know the answers before you even pick up your camera is the first step. Let’s take a closer look at the best tools of the trade, tips, and tricks to get started in macro photography. What Exactly Is Macro Photography? Macro photography has been in pop vernacular for some time now and is the close-up photography of very small subjects captured life size. You will often hear the terms magnification rate or reproduction rates when referring macro photography, which translates the size in which the subject is being captured in relation to their actual size. A ratio of 1:1 is imagery true to life in size, 1:2 is half it’s size in reality, and so on. You can tell the ratio you are able to shoot by reading the markings on the side of a macro lens. For...
Keeping Your Photos Safe in the Real World

Keeping Your Photos Safe in the Real World

Our friends over at SmugMug help photographers from all walks of life put their best memories into beautiful and safe photography websites. In this blog series on photography website tips and tricks, SmugMug shares some of things they have learned about photographers can better protect their work. Missed this series? Check out Part 1: SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website and Part 2: 6 Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now. Keeping Your Photos Safe in the Real World by Schmoo Theune SmugMug’s huge family of photo lovers spans the spectrum, from family historians to high-volume, full-time pro photographers. But no matter what your camera is capturing, it’s important to be sure that the photos stay where you want them, and that your expectations for who gets a copy is met. That’s where we come in. Theft Can Happen to Anyone (Even You) What is theft? It’s more than downloading a copy of a licensed image and using it in a magazine or an ad. While that’s certainly one of the more obvious kinds of theft, it doesn’t always have to involve money. Theft is simply any case of using an image without permission. So whether that means someone yanked a cute pic of your dog and used it in a meme without crediting you, or a client swiped one of their wedding images from your proof gallery and posted it on Facebook, it boils down to “theft.” Prints Are Soooo 2013 Years ago, our Support Heroes would answer tons of questions from worried photographers looking to protect their files from being printed without their permission. Times have changed, and while...
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...
10 Wicked Portraits and Halloween Shooting Tips

10 Wicked Portraits and Halloween Shooting Tips

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! Niki’s Tip: Shoot multiple exposures right after sunset during blue hour to combine a moody atmosphere and a sharp subject. Use exposure blending in post processing for a great effect. Allie’s Tip: Use a 5-in-1 light modifier to create light for all tones. It will ensure that white balance is on cue while you’re developing that fall feeling surrounding the child/subject. Julia’s Tip: Plan your shoots in advance and brief your team at least a few days prior to the shoot. Often makeup artists and hairstylists are willing to purchase additional tools, products, makeup colors, or even hair extensions to get better creative results. Give them some extra time to do their shopping – the entire team will benefit from it! Renee’s Tip: Learning to see color accurately is very difficult and time consuming. Pick up books on color theory, attend a painting class, or hang out with painters who understand it well. Your art will appreciate it in the future. Alex’s Tip: Use slow shutter speeds to gather moody ambient light and then compensate for motion blur with flash. Emerald’s Tip: Have a kid who hates having their photo taken? Put them in a villain costume and take advantage of the abundant attitude. My kid actually enjoys her sessions for once when sneers, snarls, and wiggling are welcome! Jamie’s Tip:...
Simple Tricks for a Treat of a Halloween Photobooth

Simple Tricks for a Treat of a Halloween Photobooth

Every year, SmugMug cofounder Chris MacAskill hosts a Halloween photobooth in his garage. Read on to find out how he does it and gain tips on building your own bewitching booth! MacAskill put together his first Halloween photobooth in 2007 using a single light and a 40″x 60″ softbox placed directly above the camera. Over time, the booth has expanded to include side lighting slightly behind and above the subjects to provide edge definition for hair and dark costumes. MacAskill always uses a black backdrop and has everyone stand about 10′ away from it to ensure enough light falloff for a pitch black background. His cameras have changed over time as well, starting with a Canon 1D Mark III, then a 1D Mark IV, and, finally, the superb 1D X. All focus very well in low light. To get everyone excited about the shoot, MacAskill shoots tethered to a Mac so that folks can immediately see their picture on a big screen. “I wear knee pads and shoot from my knees because they are mostly children and I like to get to their level, ” MacAskill said. “Many parents drive their kids for miles to get these shots every year and they pass the word around at their schools. I wear out those knee pads.” Some parents were wary at first of the photo booth. MacAskill’s wife volunteers for sidewalk duty to explain to passersby what they are doing. Last year, they upped the ante by adding an industrial smoke machine to the booth. It created more drama and everyone went crazy for it! MacAskill uses a Canon 24-105mm lens because...
Filter Size Guide

Filter Size Guide

Filters are optional accessories that can either be screwed onto, dropped in front of, or dropped into lenses. They are usually made of glass with a metal or plastic frame. We put UV filters on almost all of our lenses going out on rental because even cheap filters help protect the front element during transport. Not keeping them on, or at least putting them back on when shipping back, can cost you! However, most people use filters for artistic reasons. They either want to restrict the amount of light coming into the lens, as in the case of neutral density filters, or they are trying to cut out glare with polarizing filters. There are strong UV filters that cut out visible light in the violet end of the spectrum (reducing haze) and there are graduated filters used to cut down exposure on only part of the frame – and many more! You can even stack them, though we kind of overdo it. Most of the time you’ll be encountering screw-on filters. Make sure you are renting the right size with the right-sized lens. Usually the front element of any lens will tell you its filter size (the lens cap is also telling) but here are some handy guides to help you find the correct pairing: Lens to Filter Chart – Canon with even more information here. Lens to Filter Chart – Nikon with even more information here. Lens to Filter Chart – Sony Lens to Filter Chat – Tamron Lens Chart (see Filter Size column) –...