Travel Photography Tips from John Batdorff

This is a guest-post from John Batdorff II, a renowned travel photographer and friend of BorrowLenses.com. John is known for his landscape and travel photography, workshops, books and popular photography blog. He has traveled all around the world and, as part of our Tip of the Week series, shares his top tips on what to do if you’re planning a photo trip abroad. Take it away John!  Over the years I’ve learned a few things about travel photography. First and foremost, preparation is critical, and second, nothing ever goes as planned. Managing expectations, mitigating potential problems, and being flexible are key ingredients to ensuring a great experience. Here are few of my tips for planning a successful photo trip: Create a Shot List:  Whenever I’m traveling to an unfamiliar area I like to create a shot list of images I would like to capture. I’ll spend countless hours searching Google images and Flickr in an effort to familiarize myself with an area while jotting down places of interest. A good shot list should help answer questions like, what equipment will you need? Will you need a long lens, wide angle, tripod, backpack, etc? The list should help create opportunities by identifying the best locations and times to shoot, and most importantly, by feeding your creative vision. I like to think of my shot list as a fluid document that adapts and changes as opportunities present themselves. Buy a Good Book: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a good book about local culture and history is priceless. Understanding the people and places you are shooting will help you...
Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. This week’s tip is a list of recommendations for iPad owners. Since it was released, the iPad has been used by many photographers as a mobile portfolio, a reference tool, and even as – yes, we’re serious – a light source for photography. Some enterprising photographers have released their own apps for instructional purposes and one National Geographic photographer even gave up his website in favor of an iPad app. Clearly, the iPad has a lot to offer to photographers. With that in mind, here are our pics for iPad apps for photographers. We’ve broken this down into three sections: Photographer Showcases, Instructional, and Photo Utilities. Photographer Showcase Visuals by Vincent Laforet: Most people know Vince Laforet for his video work on projects like Reverie, Mobius and Nocturne. But did you know that Vincent is a Pulitzer-prize winning still photographer who was on the staff of The New York Times? This app is a collection of some of his favorite works, and is divided into categories like “Aerials”, “Man & Nature”, “Tilt-Shift” and more. Each image is accompanied by camera settings and commentary on the making of that image. Moreover, you can also buy prints of his images (though be warned, these prints are often signed, limited editions and are priced accordingly). Definitely worth a look! 50...
Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part II

Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part II

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. In Part I of this series, we talked about the standard types of PocketWizards, covering the Plus II and Multimax triggers. Now, we’ll tackle the newer, more complex types of PocketWizards, called the ControlTL series. About the ControlTL series ControlTL stands for “Control The Light”, and it’s PocketWizard’s way of giving photographers even greater power over their lighting setup. There are several items that make up the system, from triggers designed specifically for studio flashes like the Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 lights, to small flash-specific triggers like the Nikon SB-900 and Canon 580EXII. The fundamental idea behind the ControlTL series is to give photographers a way to control their lights right from the camera. This means that not only can you trigger an SB-900 from your Nikon D700, but you can also control the power output of that strobe, right from your camera. Now, some of you might be thinking, “I can already control my SB-900 from my D700. What do I need these triggers for?” Well, as we mentioned in part I, the cool thing about radio triggers is that you don’t need line-of-sight to trigger your flashes. Moreover, in bright sunlight, the Nikon CLS system or the Canon Speedliting system break down and become less reliable. Radio triggers do not suffer from these conditions,...
Tip of the week: Using a gimbal head

Tip of the week: Using a gimbal head

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. One of the questions we get quite often from our customers is about photographing wildlife using long lenses. Here at BorrowLenses.com, we carry a wide variety of those lenses, like Canon’s 500mm, 600mm and 800mm lenses, as well as Nikon’s flagship 500mm and 600mm lenses. These are large lenses and can weight in excess of 10lbs, making hand-holding them incredibly impractical. A tripod is very important to have, but so is having the right kind of tripod head. A regular ballhead would work fine if your subject was stationary for the most part, but wildlife – particularly birds – aren’t known for staying still. Ballheads also pose a threat to your delicate lens as their heavy front elements have been known to cause the entire setup (lens, tripod, ballhead) to pitch forward if the tension is released too quickly. The best solution? Say hello to our littler friend, the gimbal head. Made by vendors such as Custom Brackets and Wimberley, these heads allow you to mount large lenses in a way that makes them almost weightless and lets you move the lens in a free and easy manner using just your fingertips. Let’s take a look at what you need to make this work. All these components were photographed, then assembled in the field, so what you see...
Tip of the week: Offloading your images quickly

Tip of the week: Offloading your images quickly

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip. These tips are inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. This week’s tip is inspired by something that we’ve heard asked many times; with today’s high resolution cameras, a 4GB, 8GB or even 16GB memory card may not be enough to hold all your images from a shoot, so you’ll need a safe way to offload the images and resume shooting.  Carrying multiple cards is always a good idea, but as anyone who’s dropped an SD memory card knows, those things are tiny and easy to lose. Replacing a lost card is easy. Replacing the images on it? Not so much. It’s also not always possible to offload the images to a laptop as well. So here’s our tip of the week: don’t let the lack of a computer prevent you from ensuring that your images are offloaded from your cards every night. We offer two great options for you to do this. The first is everyone’s favorite tablet, the Apple iPad. BorrowLenses.com rents the iPad 2 64GB WiFi edition and we send it to you with Apple’s Camera Connection kit so you can transfer images from your SD card directly to the iPad. If your camera uses CompactFlash cards, you can connect your camera to the iPad using the USB dongle (that’s part of the Camera Connection Kit) and transfer your images that way. The advantages of this method are clear...
Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Every Thursday, we will post a photography-related tip here. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. Today we’re going to talk about a video camera called the Panasonic AG AF100. The AF100 is from a family of products that adhere to the Micro Four-Thirds standard. So far, Olympus and Panasonic are the two manufacturers making cameras for this standard, but a number of other manufacturers have also signed on to produce add-ons for it. Sigma, Carl Zeiss, Lensbaby and Voigtlander, all venerable manufacturers, have signed on to make lenses for it. But the true power of this standard comes from the manufacturers that have built adapters that let you bring a variety of non Micro Four-Thirds lenses to this platform. Voigtlander and Redrock Micro are some of the companies that make adapters that will let you use Leica, Canon and Nikon lenses on a Micro Four-Thirds camera. The image above is of a Canon-mount CP.2 lens from Zeiss, with an adapter that let us put it on an Olympus E-P2 Micro Four-Thirds camera. There was a little play in the fit, but it worked well enough. The CP.2 was a lens designed specifically for video. With the same adapter shown in the image, you can also adapt that lens to the Panasonic AF100, opening up a wide range of cinematic possibilities. But that’s not all. Take that Nikon F mount adapter we rent and you can take Nikon’s...
Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part I

Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part I

Making sense of PocketWizards, Part I. The increasing interest in off-camera flash has led to a number of our customers requesting PocketWizards to trigger off-camera flashes. The problem is, there isn’t just one single PocketWizard available to rent – there are no less than a half-dozen transmitters you have to chose from and just as many receivers. Since there are several combinations of cameras and lights you could be using, this blog entry won’t focus on giving you the list of things you would need for each imaginable combination. Instead, we’ll focus on the basics of PocketWizards and help you figure out what you’re going to need. The Broad Categories of PocketWizards In essence, PocketWizard’s products can be broken down into two key areas: Standard PocketWizards (also called PWs in the lingo) and ControlTL PocketWizards (ControlTL = Control The Light). We’ll address standard PocketWizards today, with a tip on how to select and use ControlTL PocketWizards in a future tip. Standard PocketWizards These are the original PocketWizards, the ones that are the mainstay of many professionals, if not most. They are both transmitters and receivers (called transceivers) and can be used interchangeably. There are two products in this category. PocketWizard Plus II This is the workhorse of the photographic industry. Relatively small and simple to use, it runs off 2 AA batteries and has four seperate channels it can use for transmission. These are considered to be the most reliable PocketWizard, and they see more use than any other version of PocketWizard as well. So, how would you use this? Here are a few combinations. You have a camera...
Tip of the week: Choosing a photo bag

Tip of the week: Choosing a photo bag

  Welcome to a recurring feature on The Blog @ BorrowLenses.com. Every Thursday, we will post a photography-related tip here. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com This week’s tip (or, more accurately, collection of tips): Choosing a bag to lug your gear around in. Don’t go for the biggest bag you can find. One mistake customers make all the time is to pick the largest bag they can find. The thinking is that you should grab a bag that’ll fit all the gear you might need someday if you ever went on a long photo-heavy trip. Might and if are bad foundations on which to chose something that you’re likely to use on a frequent basis. That kind of thinking is called “Worst-Case Shopping” and is not the best way to chose your bag. This is not the last bag you’ll buy. Photographers who’ve been doing this for a while will attest to this: you will buy more than one camera bag in your lifetime. Actually, if you do it long enough, you’ll end up with more bags than you could possibly need. Your bags will require their own closet. It’s just a fact of photographic life. Don’t skimp on price. Bags, tripods, tripod heads, lenses. These are the things you do NOT skimp or cut corners on. Your bag isnt’ just a container for gear – if it were, you could just as easily carry your stuff in...
Our top 5 learning resources for photographers

Our top 5 learning resources for photographers

Here’s what we’ve come to realize after more than four years in the business: our customers don’t fit any one particular mold. We have rank amateurs, passionate about photography and picking up a DSLR for the first time. We have photographers about to go into business for themselves after years of shooting for pleasure. We also have high-end customers for whom a ten-camera shoot is just another Tuesday. Whether you’re that rank amateur or that budding professional or that seasoned veteran of the industry, the one thing you can never stop doing is learning. Constant education is a requirement in this industry and those who don’t evolve are doomed to extinction. With that in mind, we put together a small list of educational resources that we go to constantly, be it for a quick lookup on a specific technique, or for inspiration when we’re in a rut. There’s a little something here for everyone regardless of your skill level. So, here are our top five learning resources, in no particular order. 1) creativeLIVE The brainchild of photographer Chase Jarvis, creativeLIVE has, arguably, one of the most unique business models in the industry. Chase brings in marquee names like Vince Laforet, Gale Tattersall, Mark Wallace, Tamara Lackey and Bambi Cantrell to do classes ranging from one to four days in length (and sometimes longer). The classes are broadcast live, completely free of charge. During the broadcast period, you have the option of purchasing the downloadable video files for a reduced price. That price usually goes up at the end of the broadcast period. The educators are top-notch and the classes...