Alternative Ways To Photograph Iconic Landmarks

Alternative Ways To Photograph Iconic Landmarks

The sheer volume of iconic imagery is boundless. Although enticing to point your camera and begin clicking away at the first landmark you see, below are some quick tips that will help set you apart from the crowd. Use Foreground to Your Advantage Landscape vistas are awe inspiring and finding a vantage point that grants you an uninterrupted panoramic can yield spectacular photographic opportunities.  However much a majestic view, creating a unique image that differs from others who have shared your view can be right in front of you. Try adding something simple to the foreground of the scene to enhance interest and intrigue to the overall picture. Push yourself to build layers of information that will depict  a story of space and time. Find Symmetry Composing a picture that abstracts a scene is a clever way to shoot more commonly photographed landmarks. Finding patterns or symmetry can give energy and visual organization to the scene as well as directs viewers around the frame. Make It Personal When visiting iconic places, whether they be natural wonders, national landmarks, or even small town trips, it’s important to remember the experience is unique to you. Try incorporating aspects of your personal experience to help encapsulate what was happening at that very moment in time and how you were feeling to later reflect upon and inspire others who may have shared that same feeling. Find A Unique Vantage Point There are some things out there that are undeniably beautiful and despite how many times they have been photographed you just can’t resist to try your hand at it. By finding a unique vantage point that is lesser known, or perhaps needs a...
Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4

Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4

The Panasonic GH4 is an amazing little camera. One thing that stood out to me in all the signal and noise out there was that this camera isn’t a great performer at high ISO. My initial quick tests bore that out. But I wanted to know if I could shoot at night, in a place like San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and still walk away with usable footage?

7 Reasons to Print your Work

7 Reasons to Print your Work

The chances are high if you are reading this article that you are a visual artist to some degree.  Maybe you have years of shooting under your belt, having started off shooting film and familiar with the printing process.  On the flip side, perhaps the popularity and accessibility of digital shooting inspired you to take a deeper interest in photography and filmmaking.  You may even be an artist who strictly uses your smartphone as a tool, yielding results that beg viewers to exclaim  “that takes better pictures than my real camera!” With so many moments being captured digitally and shared virtually these days the popularity of printing and giving life to pictures outside of the digital realm has taken a nose dive.  Here are 7 things you get to experience when you print your images: Signing Your Work Have your experienced countless hours of thinking how to take that singular picture or how to tell a story that just won’t get out of your head? The money and effort it takes you to pull off your unique vision shouldn’t end by posting it on the interwebs.  Printing an image onto fine art archival paper and signing your work of art can generate great satisfaction and act as a symbol of the culmination of hard work it took creating it. Hosting an Art Exchange Do you have amazingly talented friends whose work you enjoy immensely but may exceed your budget when it comes to decorating?  Do you want an excuse to throw a party?  Host an Art Exchange!  Those in attendance are required to print multiple prints of just one work...
Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Do you agonize over sacrificing quality in favor of comfort when packing camera gear for vacation? I tossed my hefty Nikon D800 aside and rented the Sony RX100 III from BorrowLenses.com for vacation. I wasn’t going to shoot much so if the camera sucked then no harm, no foul. The camera definitely didn’t suck. Sony’s third iteration of an already well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come. I didn’t expect to write this blog post so I don’t have very many traditional “camera review” photos. What I have, however, will demonstrate how one can get big results from a camera the size of a deck of cards. Part I: Sample Shots Night Photography They’re no National Geographic contenders but considering that I wasn’t expecting anything from laying my camera on the ground with a 15 second exposure, I am impressed. Being somewhere with very little light pollution (Rarotonga in this case) helps. The noise is bad in the clouds but I am really cranking it at ISO 5000. I didn’t spend time perfecting exposure times but I urge you to take this camera out and test its limits on night sky photography. Capturing average night scenes was fruitful as well. This is where we ate dinner every night. Taken handheld at 1/30th of a second, f/1.8 at ISO 800.The Macro Mode on the RX100 III is pretty good, too – even in low light! Macro Photography I didn’t play with this feature a whole lot but what I saw was promising. It’s no Olympus but that’s hardly a fair comparison. This is a point and...
SmugMug Films Showcase the World’s Most Exciting Photographers

SmugMug Films Showcase the World’s Most Exciting Photographers

We are ecstatic about the new SmugMug Film series that showcases the world’s most epic and exciting photographers working today. The dedication and drive of these photographers is demonstrated in the short videos that give a behind-the-lens look at the people who capture beauty and wonder each day with their cameras. Each video is hand made by SmugMug’s very own staff using some of BL’s gear. They sometimes brave harsh conditions in order to capture the spirit of the photographer’s working style – other times they get to bask in the sun and absorb some of the fun that photographers help create. SmugMug created this series to inspire passion and encourage you to get out and push yourself to new photographic limits. SmugMug Films was created to inspire, celebrate, and share the love for the the art of photography. The featured photographers have pushed all limits to pursue a passion and capture images of raw beauty in unimaginable places. Check out more of the amazing photographers of the world by subscribing to SmugMug Films’ YouTube channel to get first access to each new episode. Watch these extraordinary people follow their dream to create breathtaking images that stop us in our tracks. The next time you are lacking photography inspiration check out some of these SmugMug Films to get your creativity flowing and challenge yourself to a new...
How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

Summer is full of outdoor excursions, worldwide travel, and photo/video projects which take advantage of the long sunlit hours.  Among all the wonderful outcomes of summer exploration it’s good to keep in mind how to best protect your gear when the tides may turn for the worst. Sea Sand Sun Considering your next photo shoot or outdoor adventure at the beach or on a boat?  Do it!  Just be prepared for the elements.  The beach and open waters are littered with hazards that can be potentially harmful to your gear. Use a UV filter and lens hood to protect your lens from loose sand or sea-spray. Bring an umbrella to shield your bag from blowing sand. Wrap your camera in a plastic bag when not in use. Keep your gear in a shaded place to protect it from intense sun exposure for lengthy stretch of time. Never change lenses or memory cards while on the beach.  If sand finds its way into your camera it could be devastating! If sands makes its way onto your gear use an air blower first to avoid scratching the glass elements before wiping it down with a microfiber cloth. Video tip: bring a wind screen for clean audio Fungus is Among us Summer (and winter for that matter) have varying degrees of temperature changes when going from indoors to outdoors and vice versa.  When gear is involved in this shift, condensation will occur and over time could wreak havoc on sensitive internal mechanisms. Place your camera and lens in a plastic bag when going from AC to humid outdoor weather to ensure condensation...
Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

This is part 2 of a series on tilt-shift lenses. Be sure to also check out part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography. John Cooper specializes in corporate, industrial, and commercial photography for various business communities in Texas and teaches basic skills to other burgeoning photographers. If you are just starting out, or looking for a refresher, check out his advice below. You can also read more tips for architectural photography from John on our blog.  Basic Steps for Using Tilt-Shift Controls Select your perspective and lock down your tripod. Making sure you are level to the horizon; compose the scene straight on using the “live-view” mode. Set to bracket exposure. I use one full stop since the light measurement goes crazy with everything moving around. Bracketing with tilt-shift, I feel, is mandatory. Select f/8. Remember that aperture settings do not affect DOF on tilt-shift lenses. If your focus plane has been aligned with the sensor plane, then focusing on that plane will result in total plane focus regardless of aperture. I use f/8 because it consistently produces the sharpest image on the wide angle lenses I use. There are 3 controls and 5 knobs or buttons on all tilt-shift lenses to control everything you do. The Lens Rotation control is the button at the rear of the lens. Depressing it allows the lens to move a full 360° and always remains parallel to the camera’s sensor. Loosen all control knobs and start composing! Throw caution away and have some fun. It will take a long time but you will soon see this “plane of focus” I keep talking about. Compose...
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...