Never Work for Free, Always Have Fun, and More Advice from Commercial Photographer Court Leve

Never Work for Free, Always Have Fun, and More Advice from Commercial Photographer Court Leve

Court Leve is a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California and  voted Best Photographer in the Lake Tahoe-Truckee region for 2010. Specializing in action sports, wedding, portraiture and pet photography, Leve combines a journalistic and traditional approach to his work that results in highly acclaimed emotional and captivating images. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and The New York Post. His clients include The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe,  LinkedIn, Sportmaster.ru, Warren Miller Entertainment, Canine Hardware, Points North Heli-Adventures, Astro Gaming, Clear Capital, Cebridge Communications, Squaw Valley, Panoptyx, Plumpjack, Zeal, Kombi, Helly Hansen and more. In this interview, he shares with us some of his insights and lessons learned in the notoriously difficult field of freelance commercial photography. BL: Describe your transition from hobbyist to professional photographer. CL: Becoming a professional photographer seemed meant to be. Ten or so years ago, I was shooting anything and everything I could as a hobby when my neighbor, who was trying to start a sports journal publication, asked if I wanted to photograph a local adventure race. The shoot took all weekend and I wound up meeting and working with the staff photographer of the Tahoe World newspaper out of Tahoe City, California. When we were finished with the job, I let him know that I was available if he ever needed an extra shooter  and he told me that, despite his guilt over giving shorter than two weeks notice to the paper, he was to moving out of town. So, as it turned out, I started my job...
5 Great Photos Shot with BorrowLenses Gear

5 Great Photos Shot with BorrowLenses Gear

We spent all day caring for lenses, cameras, and more that find temporary homes with photographers all over the world capturing scenes of people, places, and events large and small. Every now and again, we get to see the results on Flickr, Facebook, G+, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Here are 5 shots we like created with the help of BL gear: We want to see your work! For a chance to have your work shared on our blog, you can private message us on Facebook, G+, Twitter, or Flickr with a downloadable link to your image, a link to your website, and what gear you used! Cover photo by epSos .de...
10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos

10 Ways to Shoot Better Wildlife Photos

As a professional travel and wildlife photographer, I am frequently asked the same question: “How do I take better pictures of animals?” My answer is usually always the same. There is no perfect recipe but there are some things you can do that will substantially improve your end result. Here are 10 rules that I live by. 10.  Vary your lens choice. A common misconception is that you need the longest lens possible to get the best wildlife images. In some cases that is true but there are many situations in which a wider lens is more desirable. For example, I found myself reaching for a wider lens in Africa to capture a cheetah on the hunt in northern Kenya. A nice tight headshot is always wonderful but incorporating an animal’s native environment into your composition is also very pleasing. 9.  Use a monopod or tripod. Wherever possible, use a monopod or tripod. You will always get sharper images the more stable your camera and lens. This is particularly true in low light conditions such as dusk in the African bush or hiking in a tropical rainforest when your shutter speeds are slower. 8.  Use a small bean bag when shooting from a vehicle. Often you cannot get out of your vehicle to capture an image for safety reasons. When a monopod or tripod is not an option, a small bean bag can be very helpful to stabilize a camera with a longer lens.  These bags can be found at most camera shops, are very portable, and can be filled and emptied right on location so weight is not a...
What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

Our new Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back is big, expensive, perhaps a little scary, and worth every penny if using it for the right assignment. We encourage renters to take advantage of Phase One’s training program if you are not already familiar with working with this system. Here’s some advice we’ve collected after using it ourselves. Stay tuned for sample images here on the blog! Difficulty Level Any reasonably seasoned shooter can handle the awesome power of medium format. The settings are just what you’d expect from a camera: AF/MF options, metering options, shutter/f-stop/and ISO control, etc. Working with the RAW files can be a challenge if you don’t have Capture One software. Handling the camera can be a challenge without an assistant because of its delicacy and bulk. In the right environment and with some patience, this camera will definitely introduce you to another level of imagery and is worth getting familiar with. What it Can Do: • Produce 10328 x 7760px images with the massive 80MP sensor. • Sync with strobes and flashes up to 1/800th of a second. • Maintain your focus point throughout camera position changes thanks to True Focus technology. • Shoot at the very low ISO 35. • Make you a sandwich. What it Can’t Do: • Video. • Be super reliable when not tethered. This camera only has 1 CF slot so tethering for image backup is a good idea. Also, the LCD preview isn’t a great visual guide – the Histogram is your friend here if you don’t have access to an external monitor. • Be easily hand-held. It’s...
Rely on Yourself, Not Gear: An Interview with Landscape Photographers Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou

Rely on Yourself, Not Gear: An Interview with Landscape Photographers Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou

Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou are full-time, professional photographers from Alberta, Canada. They are creative partners in life and work and enjoy sharing their photographic knowledge with other passionate shooters. Renowned for their accessible and fun teaching style, Darwin and Sam conduct workshops and teach seminars on all things photographic.

Shoot the Blues Away: 10 Motivating Winter Photography Tips

Shoot the Blues Away: 10 Motivating Winter Photography Tips

Photography often takes a hit during winter. Wedding gigs start to slow down and holiday obligations, bad weather, and shorter days give us plenty of reasons to procrastinate shooting. We have compiled 10 tips for staying motivated during these brumal months. Discover new ways to practice your craft and avoid a rusty start during spring’s heavy shooting season. 1) Bad Weather = Unique Images “Get out to shoot photographs even when you don’t think the weather is nice enough. A lot of great winter photos are taken when weather conditions are less than ideal. Bad weather or changing weather can translate to great atmosphere making the mundane seem extraordinaire.” – Jim Goldstein 2) Collaborate “I stay motivated in the winter by meeting and collaborating with other like-minded artists. When I am surrounded by people who are driven, passionate, and full of love for life, it seeps into my winter moodiness and completely wipes it all away. There is no substitute for really great hugs, especially when it’s cold out.” – Renee Robyn 3) Go Out Just as a Storm Clears for Extra Drama “Let’s face it, going out in the winter sucks. This image was taken on a particularly cold and windy morning. The wind was piercingly cold, the kind that makes your bones ache. Ski goggles were a requirement to see through the blowing snow and operating the camera was nearly impossible. So why would you want to go out in this misery? Dramatic weather conditions are the only way to get an image like this – fresh snow and clouds rolling over the mountains after a clearing storm during sunrise....
SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website

SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website

  Having a website to showcase your work on, or to allow potential clients to contact you through, is essential. Whether your website is simple and self made, a completely customized WordPress, or a template from SmugMug, there are some basics that all sites need to include in order to be successful. Here are SmugMug’s 9 must-haves for any photography website. SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website reprinted with permission  These days, everyone has a website and we think they’re great. But how do you know exactly what your friends, family and fans are really thinking when they see it? And if you’re a pro making money from your craft: Are you sure that your site is doing everything it can to get you clients and seal the deal? How much business are you losing from silly mistakes? After browsing tons of sites and hearing the advice from our marvelous team of Support Heroes, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get the best, most effective and appealing website you  possibly can. Period. 1) Your Contact Information Omitting or hiding ways for people to reach you is a grave mistake, one that you may not even know you’re making. Think it through: If someone finds your site and wants to talk with you, how would they do it? If you forget to include your contact information (or hide it several clicks deep), would you expect them to spend more than 5 minutes hunting for it before they give up? Chances are you don’t even have that long before they move on. It’s true that putting your email address...
Gear Spotlight: Is the 24-70mm f/4 IS Canon’s Best General-Purpose Zoom?

Gear Spotlight: Is the 24-70mm f/4 IS Canon’s Best General-Purpose Zoom?

The 24-70mm zoom range is one of the most popular zoom ranges on any camera, and most manufacturers have at least one lens in that category. Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom was getting fairly long in the tooth, and its replacement, the Mark II, has garnered widespread praise and accolades from users and reviewers alike. Lost in all of that was Canon’s 24-70mm f/4L IS zoom, which was released a few months after the f/2.8 version. This odd lens, which is, ostensibly, the replacement for Canon’s similarly long in the tooth 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, came as something of a disappointment. Why, people wondered, did Canon kill the additional 35mm of zoom range from this lens, and why would anyone opt for this lens over the sharper and faster f/2.8 Mark II? Well, I’ve been using this lens for the last few weeks as I work up a series of video articles for you folks, and I’m starting to think that this dark horse of a lens is a hidden gem. Bad figures of speech aside, there’s a lot to like about the Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS lens. Let’s start with the “IS” part. IS stands for Image Stabilization, and the 24-70mm f/4 lens, like many of Canon’s other lenses, has that. What’s unusual is that this is only the second lens in Canon’s lineup to feature the newer “Hybrid IS” system. Most image stabilization systems have the ability to compensate for movement or vibration in an up-down and side-to-side direction. Canon’s Hybrid IS system goes one step further, adding compensation for camera shift in both vertical and horizontal planes....
Moose Peterson’s Shooting Tips for the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Super Telephoto Lens

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

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. The Amazing Nikon 800 f/5.6 AFS by Moose Peterson 800mms is a magical focal length that I had longed to see in the Nikon AFS line-up. It is one of Nikon’s sharpest lenses ever. The 800mm f/5.6 delivers such amazing image quality that it’s nearly disconcerting because it shows off any flaws in your photographic technique. You must use proper long lens technique when shooting the 800mm on a fantastic tripod properly situated on Earth. At 800mms, you have a very narrow depth of field especially when you’re shooting up close and personal. 800mm f/5.6 vs the 600mm f/4 The lens itself is just a tad longer and a tad heavier than the 600mm f/4. However, I feel it is also a tad better more balanced and a tad sharper. So with that said, you could go with the 600mm and a 1.4x teleconverter and be in the same ballpark as the 800mm but it’s not quite the same. We are splitting hairs here but that’s what we do in photography – we look for the right...
Break the Rules: An Interview with Landscape Photographer Varina Patel

Break the Rules: An Interview with Landscape Photographer Varina Patel

Varina Patel is a freelance wilderness and landscape photographer. She is drawn to the challenge of finding her next photograph and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively. Her photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world. She teaches workshops on landscape photography and processing along with her husband and colleague, photographer Jay Patel.