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...
Personal Bests of 2014 – Get Inspired and Share Yours

Personal Bests of 2014 – Get Inspired and Share Yours

We celebrate progress on all levels – whether you’re a pro trying to stretch your personal limits or a novice who just learned how to shoot manually. We get better every year that we stick to our photographic and cinematic goals. Here are the personal favorites of 2014 from a variety of our employees, friends, and partners from all backgrounds, styles, and skill levels. Check out the images and videos below, see what they shot with, and get inspired. This is one of Seán Duggan’s favorite images from 2014. He took it while deep inside an ice cave that extended 300 meters back beneath an Iceland glacier. His guide provided the perfect sense of scale for this enormous “room”. This is an HDR blend of 3 exposures shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Want to get a shot like this? Join Duggan on his next workshop, Winter Landscapes, Ice Caves, and Auroras, in March, 2015. In his worldwide workshops, Michael Corsentino teaches students how to achieve fashion and glamor portraits like this City Girl Fashion editorial he shot in Brooklyn. Corsentino lit this scene with a Profoto B1 Air Flash and an Elinchrom Deep Octa. His work and travels can be followed on Instagram: @corsentino. Travel dominates every year of Michael Bonocore’s life and 2014 was no exception. He ran the second camera for a SmugMug Films production on the adventures of surf photographer Chris Burkard. Burkard documented a group of surfers braving blizzards, high winds, and freezing temperatures in search of the perfect wave. When Bonocore wasn’t shooting slow motion of Burkard in action on...
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...
Q&A with Red Bull Photographer Garth Milan

Q&A with Red Bull Photographer Garth Milan

Garth Milan is a famous action sports photographer and a customer of BorrowLenses. Milan originally started photographing action sports because of his own interest in skateboarding, mountain biking, and motorcycle riding. This year he did a Red Bull photo shoot with Harrison Barnes and was kind enough to share some insight and images from the shoot with BorrowLenses! BL: What is your background as a photographer? Milan:  I have been shooting professionally since about 1998, and specialize in everything from action sports to portraits and commercial product photography. The diversity in shooting comes from my photojournalism background, which I studied at Cal State Long Beach under award-winning photojournalist Wayne Kelly. I absolutely love all aspects of photography, and still pinch myself daily that I’ve made a career out of my favorite artistic form. BL: How many years have you been photographing for? Milan: I’ve been shooting now for over 20 years! BL: How did you originally get into photography? Milan: I got into it because I was also into all of the action sports that I now shoot. I began taking pictures of my friends, and it just snowballed from there. Once I discovered my love for photography, I switched my college major and completely immersed myself in it. BL: Why do you like renting from BorrowLenses? Milan: My experience was absolutely exceptional with Borrowlenses! From the exceptional customer service I experienced, to their awesome website, BorrowLenses had me covered every step of the way. The gear was top-notch and definitely the cleanest and best-kept rental gear I’ve had in a long time. BL: What goes through your mind when you get an assignment that isn’t motorsports related? Milan: I...
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...
A Review of Fuji’s X-trans CMOS II Sensor and X-mount Lenses

A Review of Fuji’s X-trans CMOS II Sensor and X-mount Lenses

As a landscape photographer who hikes a considerable amount, I am always looking for ways to lighten my load on and off the trail. After switching to full frame DSLRs years ago, I had never considered the Fuji system due to the cropped (APS-C) sensor. Despite being convinced I’d never go back to a crop sensors, I couldn’t help my curiosity after hearing so many great reviews coming from Fuji converts.

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:...
10 Essential Tips To Get Great Blue Angels Photos

10 Essential Tips To Get Great Blue Angels Photos

This weekend is Fleet Week here in San Francisco and given numerous emails I’ve received about photographing the event I thought I would consolidate my tips to photographing the Blue Angels. Following these 10 Blue Angels photography tips as originally found on my blog  should put you on the fast track to walking away with some great photos. Logistics – Be Prepared In San Francisco that means get to the show very early. Parking is always a challenge and will test your patience. Don’t let the search for parking ruin your day. If you want to avoid that aggravation then take public transportation and/or park far away. Bring a lunch or a snack. Get the nutrients and fluids you need in your system ahead of time so you can keep your eye on the show and not your bag of chips. Finding an unobstructed view can be a challenge. Arriving early will not only enable you to find the best location possible but will give you the time to scout out various spots to set up. Know Where Center-Point Is Center-point is the physical location that all Blue Angels maneuvers are centered around. This is the mark they aim to criss cross over and navigate around. For Fleet Week here in San Francisco that point is in front of Aquatic Park. Knowing this location is critical if you plan to capture the Blue Angels Criss-Cross maneuver. Location, Location, Location! As with realestate location is everything. In San Francisco for Fleet Week there really isn’t a bad spot. I have taken photos of the Blue Angels from a variety of locations...