Featured Photographer Jay Patel

Featured Photographer Jay Patel

Technique, knowledge, inspiration – gain it all from seasoned photographers with years of experience and many tips to share with both burgeoning photographers and pros looking to gain a new perspective. Visit our entire collection of interviews, which are full of amazing images and valuable advice. Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places began early in childhood during numerous trips to some of the most breathtaking locations on the Indian subcontinent. His passion for magnificent places now manifests itself in a continuous search to capture nature’s majesty with his camera. Jay’s career in photography began in 2001 when he purchased his first digital SLR. He has since spent time reading photographic articles and studying the styles of great landscape photographers. He has had no formal education or training in photography. He hopes to provide inspiration for others who may also try to capture the nature of light through workshops, eBook, and tutorials he teaches with his wife, photographer Varina Patel. BL: What is your photographic specialty and how did you become interested in it? Patel: I never really took photography seriously until late 1999 when digital cameras were just coming onto the scene. I purchased my first Nikon 990 in late 1990, and fell in love with photography (something I always wanted to learn). I purchased my first DSLR in 2002 and started seriously pursuing landscape photography. BL: How long have you been teaching and/or writing about photography and how would you describe your teaching/writing style? Patel: I started teaching photography in 2005. My teaching style is very casual. When I am teaching, I attempt to strike a balance between simplicity, creativity and technical aspects of...
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.

New Gear: The Fuji X-E1 Is Here

New Gear: The Fuji X-E1 Is Here

The Fuji X-Pro1 has been in our inventory for some time now, and we’re pleased to add its newer sibling, the X-E1, to our rental offerings. This younger, lighter, and smaller version of the X-Pro1 ditches a few features of the critically acclaimed (and very successful) X-Pro1, while adding a few welcome ones. Read on to find out what you need to know about the Fuji X-E1. First things first – the X-E1 is, as I just said, lighter and smaller than the X-Pro1. By weight, it’s about 25-30% lighter, but by size, the difference isn’t as drastic as I thought it would be when I bought mine (yes, I bought one not too long before we started carrying the X-E1 – figures!). The X-E1 is shorter than the X-Pro1, and while the difference isn’t great, folks with large hands will notice the difference. The X-E1 is also thinner than the X-Pro1, but again, not by much. The button layouts have also changed a bit. Fuji has relocated the playback button to the left of the display, but otherwise, everything on the back is about where it was on the X-Pro1. The X-E1 also retains the dual dials of the Pro, as well as the assignable “Fn” button on top. Besides the size and button layout, there are some other key differences between the bodies, so let me sum them up. The X-E1 doesn’t have an Optical Viewfinder (OLF). Unlike the X-Pro1, which has a “hybrid” viewfinder that can be switched from OVF to Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) mode, the X-E1 just has an EVF. It is a higher-resolution EVF...
Quick Look at the Sony HVL-F60M Flash with LED Video Lights

Quick Look at the Sony HVL-F60M Flash with LED Video Lights

Sony has started releasing cameras and flashes with hot shoes that abandon the previous proprietary Minolta-style hot shoe which means the Sony HVL-F60 pairs well with the NEX line, the RX line, and the A99. This is also our first flash gun that is suitable for both photographers and videographers thanks to the inclusion of a mini LED panel on the flash head. Pros Versatility. Even if you aren’t a videographer, the LED option is neat. It can replicate small window light and is easy enough for a complete lighting neophyte. Menus are bright and easy to navigate/read. Accepts an off-camera cable and external battery pack. Built-in bounce, high-speed sync option (up to 1/2000th), TTL. Can be optically fired from your camera’s built in flash and the HVL-F60M can, in turn, fire other flashes. Cons No PC sync cable port. It’s kind of huge. The tilting is in clicks of 90º, 60º, 45º, and 30º and not in between. Can’t be used on your older Minolta-style hot shoes unless you have an adapter. Check this compatibility chart for more info. The off-camera cable and external battery pack ports are only compatible with Sony’s FA-CC1AM and FA-EB1AM, respectively. We’d recommend this flash for any Sony user, especially if you have been looking for something powerful for the little NEX or RX cameras. For the video users, the specs on the LED indicate that you can light your subject at about 6′ away on ISO 3200 and f/5.6. Just how WELL it lights your subject at that distance is uncertain and probably up to personal taste/artistic vision. Rent it and tell us...
Break Out of Your Routine: An Interview with Nature Photographer Jim Goldstein

Break Out of Your Routine: An Interview with Nature Photographer Jim Goldstein

Jim Goldstein is a professional photographer based out of San Francisco, California who specializes in outdoor and nature photography. Jim infuses elements of the natural world into his commercial and editorial work to express his passion about nature and the environment. A member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Jim produces the highest quality photography for both commercial clients and fine art photography collectors.

Behind the Scenes of a Saloon Shoot with Photographer Peter Phun

Behind the Scenes of a Saloon Shoot with Photographer Peter Phun

Peter Phun is a freelance photographer in Riverside California. An alumni of Kent State University in photojournalism, he was among the first at his local paper to make the transition from film to digital with zero training. Phun is currently an adjunct instructor of photography at Riverside Community College. Go behind the scenes with Phun and a couple of 1940s-inspired models to discover how you can make the most of  lighting a shoot in a dark and relatively cramped environment. A Few Photo Tips from a 1940s Theme Shoot at Lake Alice Saloon and Eatery reprinted with permission by Peter Phun In a bar, there are surprisingly many, many shiny and reflective surfaces. To help combat this, a softbox is a better choice than an umbrella. The light falls off very dramatically and won’t scatter the way it does in an umbrella. I especially like the Photoflex OctoDome NXT  for this.  To go inside the OctoDome, I rented a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite from BorrowLenses to help save space. Lighting conditions inside most bars are poor so you may need to use your fastest lens, especially if you are only using flash for accent lighting. I used a 50mm f/1.2 on my  Canon 5D Mark II set to ISO 400. I usually prefer to fire my Speedlites on manual power because I like to have a consistent output. From the ST-E3-RT radio transmitter attached to my camera’s hotshot, I was able to dial in my flash setting without having to walk over to either Speedlite to make changes in power. For this shoot, I chose a 2:1 lighting ratio using just 2 Speedlites. I wanted my back light to put out 1 stop...
Shoot Often to Build Confidence: An Interview with Portrait Photographer Neil Creek

Shoot Often to Build Confidence: An Interview with Portrait Photographer Neil Creek

Neil Creek is a photographer with ten years of experience and a passion for teaching. He has helped tens of thousands of people improve their photography with his eBooks, successful video training courses, photography workshops, and years of photography blogging. As a professional photographer specializing in portrait photography, Neil has picked up lots of ideas, techniques and problems to watch out for that are usually learned the hard way. Neil has a talent for taking difficult-to-understand concepts and making them accessible