The Roads Less Traveled

Ideas for new photos can come from where you least expect it. I don’t know what your commute to work is like each day, but by taking some extra time and traveling some dusty back roads, I’ve found a whole new world of photographic inspiration.

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Why Shooting Landscapes and Nature is Better at f/11 or Less

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Shot at 8mm, f/5.6 on an APS-C camera. The focal point was about 1/3 of the way into the frame at a point about 30 feet from the camera on the green grass where it meets the road.

Almost everything you will read will tell you that to have a great looking landscape shot it has to be sharp from front to back, and you have to shoot at f/16 or f/22 to get that.

Not true.

That is not how it works in the real world with your eyes, and it is not how a camera or lens should be used either. I’ll break this down and destroy this myth. Continue reading

Review: The Sigma 8-16 mm Lens is Excellent for Landscapes

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Sigma’s 8-16 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens is the widest rectilinear lens made for APS-C sized cameras. This is the 35 mm equivalent of 12-24 mm. If sweeping landscape shots and front-interest images with tremendous depth are your things, then you’re going to love this lens.

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Review: Why the Hoya HRT CIR-PL Circular Polarizer is a Winner

Hoya HRT CIR-PL UV box

The Hoya HRT CIR-PL UV filter is a winner in my opinion. It has both the polarization and UV protection, but most importantly it does not cut down on the light reaching your camera sensor as much as many of the others. Together with its low cost, I think this is the filter every photographer should own.

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Storm Light

What is “Storm Light?”

“Storm light” is a special kind of outdoor lighting that occurs usually just after a storm has passed. The atmosphere is usually full of small particles of dust, rain, and ice, and this creates a unique coloration of the sky and land. It is one of the best, most difficult, most dangerous, and rarest of times to shoot landscape photos. Continue reading

Choosing a Focus Mode and AF Frame

Focusing Modes Explained

Choosing a focusing mode (also called AF Mode) for your camera can be confusing. Very confusing. It’s not something you’re going to want to be thinking about when you’re ready to shoot, that’s for sure! Here’s a simple explanation for some common focus modes and how I use them. Continue reading

How to Make Your Camera Settings Before You Need Them

Mode dial with custom settings of C1 and C2 shown.

Mode dial with custom settings of C1 and C2 shown.

I often take my camera with me, and rarely know exactly what I will be shooting. The best photos are not planned ones. How frustrating when I have to stop and set-up my camera. Here’s one thing that I do to make sure I am ready to shoot: Continue reading

Capturing Color – What You See vs. What Your Camera Sees

I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman and the colors of the ocean were so beautiful there. They were every shade of blue to green that you could think of, and I just knew I would never be able to do those colors justice in my camera images. Why? I know that my eyes capture more colors than any camera ever will… Continue reading

Black Rapid RS-7 (Curve) Camera Strap

The Black Rapid RS-7 camera strap is by far the most useful accessory that I have for outdoor photography! I used it most recently for trips to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and it proved to be invaluable. I’ve been using it for over a year now and I can definitely say that I would not be without it.

The main thing it does for me is that it keeps my camera at my side, with the lens facing backward and along side of me. This means as I climb through the woods and through brush, the lens is protected. Plus, I don’t feel a large weight bounding off of my chest as I had with the factory strap hanging around my neck. This strap goes over the shoulder and across the body, holding the camera at waist level. Since this is where your arms naturally hang down and your hands are at waist level, you can easily grab the camera and swing it up to take a shot – never missing a shot again by fumbling for your camera.

I looked at other straps before choosing the Black Rapid brand, but the others did not measure up. I also looked at holsters and belt clips for my camera as I thought these would put the camera at my side for quick use. It turns out that these do not work so well because I’m generally driving to a location to shoot and I want to keep my camera on me so I can get out and get to the shooting part with minimal preparation. The holster systems do not work because when sitting, the camera is either grinding into your seat or leg or both. Either way it puts undue stress on the camera itself. A strap is better. Continue reading

Scouting Shots

Before setting out to shoot some photos, it is always a good idea to scout¹ out some locations that may produce great shots. The idea here is to go and find those spots where a great photo could be taken, so that you can set up and be ready to go when conditions are right and the photo is there for the taking! It is very similar to what good hunters do when they are preparing to hunt their prey.

“But where?”  I’m glad you asked. Here’s some ideas “where” and more importantly here’s “how,” “why”, and “when!” Continue reading

Flashlights for Outdoor Photography

When out taking photos, every good photographer has a good flashlight with them. If you’re a time-lapse or night photographer, it is essential equipment and a red light in it is best for the eyes (not reviewed here). But every outdoor photographer has a need for a good flashlight during those “golden hours” before sunrise or after sunset when the best photos can be taken. And, as a safety item, it’s invaluable!

I’ve used a few different flashlights over the years, and have settled on the following ones as the best and brightest!

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Photographing Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons

Here’s what I learned about photography from my recent trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons!

I went there on vacation in mid-September, and it was the perfect time with the crowds gone and the elk running all over the place. The foliage was still green in low lands, but turning in the high lands where it had just frosted.

Before leaving, I was really wondering what gear to take to get the types of shots I wanted. So, I took everything I had. But here are the items that I really used, so maybe you won’t have to take so much stuff. Continue reading