Planning for Safari: Photography Tips and Tricks

Planning for Safari: Photography Tips and 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.

Chasing Monkeys in Colombia for Nat Geo

Chasing Monkeys in Colombia for Nat Geo

Colorado-based DP and Director Danny Schmidt recently traveled to Colombia on behalf of National Geographic to obtain footage of the albino brown spider monkey. Equipped with a slew of video gear from Borrowlenses and a qualified crew, they had 8 days to gather the footage needed to tell the story of this beautiful and endangered species.  Chasing Monkeys in Colombia for Nat Geo by Danny Schmidt The Mission The world of wildlife filmmaking is full of unknowns. Will I see any animals? Will I capture interesting behavior? Will the weather cooperate? We generally go into the field equipped with the right gear, a lot of research, and a general willingness to suffer to get the shot. But beyond those things, we just hope that we actually see an animal when are cameras are rolling. On a recent trip to Colombia in search of albino brown spider monkeys, the odds were definitely not in our favor. There are only two (yes, two) of these albinos known to exist in the wild and we had a short window to find them and tell their story. Brown spider monkeys are critically endangered and their habitat is severely fragmented. This has caused genetic bottlenecking and, as a result, albinism in one of the family groups. These albinos are incredibly beautiful but they bring a pretty sobering message about the fate of a species when populations become isolated. Our mission was to find the monkeys, tell their story through the voice of the local researcher, and create a portrait of the stunning biodiversity of this threatened area. We had 8 days to do it. Without the help of the...
Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – May Edition

Latest Gear at BorrowLenses – May Edition

The pace of gear releases in our industry seems to be constantly increasing these days. Every month, we have new photo or video gear coming into our offices so we thought we’d start putting together a roundup of everything new we have available to rent. Here’s what’s come in during the last month or so: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit   Profoto gear just keeps getting better and better. The guys over at Resource Mag Online have put up a nice video review that you can check out here, but here’s the short and sweet: It’s Profoto’s legendary quality meets portability meets TTL metering for Canon and Nikon shooters. You can, of course, also hook up your standard PocketWizards for manual triggering as well. This is a fantastic light for location shooting when you want a bit more power than a standard speedlight. Elinchrom 800W/s D-Lite RX4 Monolight Kit   Since we’re on the subject of lighting, the guys at Elinchrom haven’t been standing still either. We now have one of their newest lights in stock, and it’s available as a kit that comes with light stands, small softboxes, and the Skyport SPEED transmitter for triggering these flashes. We love these lights, and you can pair them with Elinchrom’s legendary Deep Octa or 6′ Light Bank for some incredible lighting. Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens Fuji keeps making waves with their incredible line of X-series cameras and lenses, but this particular one is really the one Fuji shooters have been waiting for. The equivalent of a 24-82.5mm lens on a full-frame camera, this zoom is weather-sealed...
Red Bull GRC Action Sports Photography with Garth Milan

Red Bull GRC Action Sports Photography with Garth Milan

Action sports photography has taken me all over the world, and my latest trip was to Sin City, where I spent two days shooting the final round of the 2014 Red Bull GRC series for, you guessed it, Red Bull. The event was just off of the Strip at the Linq Casino and Resort, at the base of the newly constructed High Roller Ferris wheel. Knowing how tough access is at any auto racing event, I knew I would need some serious glass, so before I packed my bags or even booked my flight, the first thing I did was arrange to “borrow” a Canon 600mm f/4 lens from Borrowlenses.com. Whether it’s rally racing, Moto GP, or even the Red Bull Air Race series, I typically always bring a minimum of 500mm of glass to these action-filled racing events. To me, the absolute best part of the Borrowlenses.com service, besides the great selection and customer service, is the fact that they are willing to ship huge lenses and equipment like this straight to my hotel room. This is helpful beyond words, as I always travel with a minimum of four bags, between lighting, computers, clothes, etc., so to arrive at my destination with a huge piece of glass waiting for me like this is beyond revolutionary. Handholding my massive 600mm, I headed out to the event for the first day of shooting. I was immediately thankful to have the 600, as the access was as bad as I expected and then some… but with such a massive lens, shooting directly through fencing is easily possible, opening up a whole...
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...
Breaking the Rules to Get the Most Out of Natural Light

Breaking the Rules to Get the Most Out of Natural Light

In photojournalism school, students are taught to underexpose when out in the field in order to achieve the richest colors and most intense contrast possible in a photograph. The trick, conventional wisdom explains, is to bring the exposure back up in post processing. I shot this way for years and it always treated me well. I’m still a big fan of the ‘underexpose method’ when shooting landscapes and documentary stories. The technique brings out the drama of what you’re trying to capture; old, wrinkly faces look like they belong to lost souls with millions of years of stories to tell, a canyon or mountain scape appears to be straight out of a dream with rainbow-like colors and dark, cloud-filled skies seem to hover over every crevice of the earth. Depth and drama are what this technique creates  — perfect for telling stories with a ‘wow’ effect. After starting my own wedding photography business, I slowly learned how to bend and, even break, the rules. My focus shifted from news stories that break your heart to telling the happiest stories imaginable — family moments of pure joy and love as young couples prepare for their next stage of life together. When photographing a wedding, you are trusted to document one of the most precious moments in a person’s life. I wanted to do these people justice by focusing on the beauty within. By capturing them in just the right light, I knew I could help them see their own beautiful depth radiating out. With this new goal in mind, my style began to morph. I no longer cared as much about the...
The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

Of all the things that photographers argue about in our secret monthly meetings, sensor size and its impact on our work is perhaps one of the most heated topics that can come up. From the true “bigger is better” snobs (“Sensors? Bah! 8X10 film is where it’s at!”) to the ones who prize portability above all (“Micro-Four-Thirds rules!”), the debate between advocates of MFT, APS-C, and full-frame sensors often reaches religious fervor. Contentious topics related to sensor size include resolution, high-ISO performance, and dynamic range, but the quality and characteristic of bokeh, or out-of-focus backgrounds, is perhaps the most fiercely contentious. While there’s no contest that the bigger sensors can clearly produce much smoother and, well, blurier (not a word, I know), it’s also an unfair statement that the smaller sensors like the ones in Olympus and Panasonic Micro-Four-Thirds cameras can’t produce good bokeh. The Prerequisites Now, before you get into this article, if you have questions about what crop sensors are, how they work, etc., you want to read a few of these articles: Tip of the Week: Understanding Sensor Crop Factors, Part 1 Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors Best Wide Angle for a Crop Sensor Camera These articles will give you a good understanding of what crop sensors are, and what using a crop sensor camera implies, for the most part. In this article, we’re going to drill down to one specific thing. We will take a look at just how the size of your camera’s sensor affects the bokeh characteristics of your image. To do this, we devised a pretty...
Illuminating the Face, by Peter Hurley: A Review

Illuminating the Face, by Peter Hurley: A Review

Back in 2011, photographer Peter Hurley teamed up with our friends over at FStoppers to create a tutorial video called The Art Behind The Headshot. That 4+ hour video more or less became required watching here at BL for anyone shooting any kind of portraiture, not just headshots. In fact, I still refer to it from time to time to prep for a new client; it was equal parts motivational video and coaching tutorial. Now, three years later, Peter Hurley returns with another tutorial called Illuminating The Face. This is the next logical release after The Art Behind The Headshot, and Peter sent us a copy for review. Here’s the one-sentence review: This is yet another home run for Peter Hurley, and if you happen to photograph the human face, regardless of your genre, this needs to be on your “must watch” list of tutorials. What came before… Let’s talk for a moment how Illuminating The Face differs from The Art Behind The Headshot. The Art… was very much a non-technical tutorial. It was a lot like having Peter Hurley coach you on how to interact with your subject, how to direct them, what to look for when pressing that shutter button. That’s not to say that there was nothing technical in that video; Peter did cover his trademark square box lighting technique that had turned heads on the internet and spawned a slew of  copycats and admirers — including, I’m not ashamed to admit, yours truly right here on this blog. Yet The Art… wasn’t a technical tutorial. It was very much a “human” tutorial, and was gloriously welcome at a time when...