Mastering of Filters Series

We continue our mastering filters series with an in-depth look at the 15-stop solid ND filter, a top choice for photographers that want to have extended creative control over the images they create.

But why is a 15-stop solid ND filter something you need in your
a bag? These filters – assuming you buy one that’s of high-quality – can help you take your photography to the next level. By using a lower ISO and a larger aperture, the images you create are clean and beautiful, with features that are difficult, if not impossible to get during the daytime – like a shallow depth of field on a long exposure image.

Let’s take a closer look at these invaluable filters.

Why Use a 15-Stop Solid ND?

For people that have used 5-stop and 10-stop solid NDs, the first question they might have with a 15-stop solid ND is…why?

The answer to that question is very simple – image quality. No matter how good the filters are that you use, it’s just

Here A Quick Guide to Photographing

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Colorado…

I need to change that.

It’s one of the most beautiful states I’ve been to, but that’s to be expected since I’m a lover of landscape photography.

What’s great about Colorado is that there is so much to see in such varied climates. You can photograph snow-capped mountains in the morning, have lunch in a quaint mining town, and then spend the afternoon in the desert taking photos of wonderful and bizarre formations that look more at home in New Mexico or Arizona.

Better still, Colorado’s landscapes are vast, giving you plenty of opportunities to see the beauty of the state without having to fight for position with other photographers to get the shot you want, assuming you’re visiting at the right time of year, of course.

If you’re fond of creating landscape photos, let me give you a few tips for maximizing your experience while visiting the Centennial State.

Incorporate Human Touches

I know some landscape photography purists that balk at the idea of incorporating

This Photography Accessories That Make Your Life Much Easier

Sure, it comes more naturally to others, but no matter who you are, there’s a lot of things that need to go just right if you’re going to maximize the visual impact of the photos you create.

Talent is certainly a part of that.

So is photography knowledge and know-how.

Another part of giving yourself the best chance at creating the best image is having accessories that make it easier for you to do so.

That’s where this list comes in.

If you want better pictures in your portfolio, consider investing in some (or all!) of these accessories.

Holdfast MoneyMaker

It’s not called the MoneyMaker for nothing…

The Holdfast MoneyMaker is purpose built to make the process of getting “the shot” much easier.

Let’s face it – carrying your camera around with a single shoulder strap is nothing if not uncomfortable. Add in a second camera body, and you’ve got the makings of your expensive gear clanking around against your body.

Not so with the MoneyMaker.


Photographing A Friend’s Wedding

My friend’s daughter is getting married this spring.  I thought she was going to be a December bride, but her soon-to-be husband is one of those sensitive guys, and he want’s their wedding date to stand alone, not getting mixed up with holidays, birthdays and other occasions.  Of course, she is ecstatic and is already running about looking for things they will use in their new home, and where they will go on their honeymoon and all similar sorts of stuff.  And her mother and friends are busily planning a baby shower and looking for her wedding dress. 

In the meantime, her dad is wandering about like he is in a permanent daze.  I think he never believed he would lose that baby girl he used to bounce on his knee.  The only person looking more spaced out than him is the fiancé, but he is entitled to considering what he is getting himself into.  Anyway, I volunteered my services to photograph the wedding, just so they don’t have to hire someone they don’t know and pay.  It will be my present to

Great Tips for Family Reunions

Have you been charged with planning a family reunion?  When well-planned, these events can build memories and strengthen relationships for years to come. Follow these recommendations from the professional party planners to ensure your family reunion is a huge success.

The first step is to confirm the budget and dates. These events are often planned at least one year in advance. Send out save the date emails to all family members letting them know details will follow. Early planning will allow for a larger selection of venues as well as ensure all families members can make plans to attend. If there are a large number of out of town family members, consider contacting local hotels to secure a group rate. Your family members will appreciate this.

Because reunions generally only happen every few years at best, consider hiring a professional photographer for the occasion. Years in the future the entire family will appreciate having professional photos of the event. Take advantage of the awesome deals offered by Groupon coupons and splurge on new shoes for the family from the great deals and selection offered at  Let family members know that a professional photographer

This Examples of How Landscapes and People Go Hand in Hand

My guess is that for most people, the term “landscapes” evokes a certain mental image.

Maybe a waterfall cascading over a cliffside…

Or perhaps a mountain scene at sunset.

I tend to think of the beach, simply because that’s a landscape I see quite a lot.

Something that I’m betting most of us don’t think about when we think of landscapes is other people or things people have created, like buildings.

Yet, mixing people with landscapes can lead to beautifully composed photos that have more depth and meaning than a “traditional” landscape.

In the image above, the waterfall and the interesting texture of the rocks that flank it are gorgeous and visually interesting.

But the addition of the man into the shot humanizes the scene and gives it that much more visual interest in which to engage our eyes and our attention.

Let’s look at a few other examples of how people and natural wonders can come together to create a beautiful photo.

When presented with a scene like the one above, just about any photographer would be tempted to photograph it as it is, with the waterfall on

Incredible Of Natural Photos

There’s nothing like what’s pictured above around where I live.

Maybe that’s why I find that shot so mesmerizing!

It’s like having tunnel vision, but through a beautiful ice cave with all sorts of texture to delight the eye.

And while I’m unaware of any ice caves in the Los Angeles area, I can take inspiration from this photo and the ones below to take my own amazing shots of landscapes I find around me.

I think you can take some inspiration from these photos as well!

Though they are of far-off places that most of us have likely never seen with our own eyes – let alone our cameras – it’s still nice to see the beauty of other parts of the world.

With that in mind, let me present a few jaw-dropping images that I hope will get your creative juices flowing for some photos this weekend.

When I look at this image, I can’t help but smile.

I mean, this guy is having a great time!

And why shouldn’t he? With that kind of light display, I’d be jumping for joy too.


Crucial Tips for to Improved Sunrise and Sunset Photos

I love a good sunset. Especially one at the beach.

Who doesn’t?!

It’s hard to beat that incredible Golden Hour lighting, the feeling of the sand between your toes, and the smell of the salt air.

Well, I say it’s hard to beat that, but getting a fantastic shot of a sunset is one way to make the moment even better!

But sunrise and sunset are tough times to get a really magical image.

The difficulties with exposure alone are enough to derail many of us.

But throw in a few compositional considerations, weather that won’t cooperate, and not having the right gear, and sunrise and sunset can be downright impossible to photograph well.

In that spirit, I’ve put together a few tips and tricks that will make a noticeable difference in your ability to capture spectacular Golden Hour photos.

Don’t Use Auto White Balance

One of the best ways to ruin the impact of your sunrise and sunset photos is to leave your camera on auto white balance.

Now, I’m not saying that auto white balance isn’t a valuable tool in many scenarios. In fact, I rarely

Saturation And Vibrance You Need To Know

When I first learned Photoshop, the saturation adjustment was one of the first tools I used.


Well, to put it simply, I already knew what saturation meant, and the tool was easy to use, with a simple slider to make adjustments.

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Of course, today’s post-processing programs are vastly improved over whatever version of Photoshop I was using back in the day.

Yet, there’s saturation, still hanging around, ready to help make my photos a little bit better.

There’s another sheriff in town these days too – vibrance – that, when used appropriately, can give images an added punch as well.

Today, I want to give a quick overview of both of these tools to help clarify exactly what it is that they do.

Saturation Explained

When you work on the saturation of an image, moving the slider to the right boosts the saturation of all the colors in the shot. Conversely, moving the slider to the left diminishes the saturation of all the colors.

These actions are uniform – that is, saturation works on all colors in the same way,

Tricks for Processing Your Smartphone Photos

There’s no denying it – mobile photography is better than ever.

Not only are the phones in our pockets more capable of taking stellar photos, but the apps available for editing those photos are second-to-none, allowing photographers of all types to create extraordinary photos.

With the addition of an incredible slate of accessories for phones that run the gamut from tripods to cases to lenses, we have the makings for a very powerful (and convenient) system for taking some pretty great photos.

I use my phone to take photos every single day, and I’m betting most of you do as well.

Given the frequency with which phones are being used for photography, let’s have a look at a few things you can do to make your mobile photos shine a little brighter.

Recommended Apps

It’s an understatement to say that there are a lot of editing apps available today, with more added to the Google Play and iTunes stores each day.

Sifting through all that can be a daunting task, so I’ve taken the liberty of choosing two that offer tons of features for all different types of mobile photography.

Start a Photography Business? Here’s Five Ways For You to Get Prepared

So, you’ve been at this photography thing for a while…

You probably have a decent understanding of how photography works, from shooting in manual to manipulating light and so forth.

You might have even been hired by a friend or a relative to take photos of a special occasion.

But a question lingers in the back of your mind – “How do I know when I’m ready to be a professional photographer?”

This is a question that pulls at plenty of amateur photographers.

And the answer really comes down to just one thing: confidence.

I know, I know…you need other stuff too, like the aforementioned technical and creative understanding of how to make a great photo.

You need people skills and business skills too.

This list goes on and on…

But, the common thread between each of these factors is simply having confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Let’s explore how you can build your confidence such that you feel ready to take the plunge into professional work as a photographer.

You Don’t Need Fancy Equipment

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a ton of

Backlight Your Photos By Using Photoshop

Backlighting can be one of the most beautiful forms of lighting for any scene.

It’s especially eye-catching for portraits.

And while natural light for backlighting purposes is especially nice, you might not always get the look that you want.

Like so many other things in photography, mastering backlighting takes time and practice.

It also requires an understanding of a few technical and compositional tips to maximize your success.

With that in mind, let’s explore a few things you need to know to put natural backlighting to work for you. Then we’ll look into how to boost the interest of backlighting in Photoshop.

Backlighting: The Pros and Cons

Just as a refresher, backlighting occurs when the light source emanates from behind the subject, as seen in the image above.

There are a few pros and cons to using this type of lighting:


  • Backlighting can create highly dramatic scenes.
  • Backlighting increases contrast between the background and the subject because the background is full of warm light and the subject is often darker (i.e. silhouetted).
  • Backlighting is conducive to telling interesting stories about the subject and their relationship to their surroundings.

Ways To Start a Photography Business

So, you like taking pictures. You’ve picked up some prosumer level gear, picked up a bunch of beginner photography tips to improve your skills, spent a little bit too much time in Photoshop, and maybe even gotten paid to take your cousin’s headshots. You’ve reached the crossroads that many people come to when pursuing a craft, the line in the sand that you have to cross in order to become a “professional.”

Some people say that if you do something you love you’ll never work a day in your life.

This isn’t true.

The correct version of that tell-tale phrase is: If you do something you love, you’ll be able to tolerate the less fun, yet very necessary tasks that go along with it.

Whatever you choose to do in life, it isn’t all fun and games, and photography is no exception. Becoming a professional photographer can be an incredibly fulfilling endeavor. You get to spend your life providing people with visual insight into who they really are and what they really want. But, as with anything worth doing, it is also difficult and comes with a unique set of

This Photos of Newborns That Will Melt Your Heart

When it comes to photography subjects, I’m not sure there’s anything better than a newborn.

Now, I’m saying that as a proud father – not as a photographer!

Just like wedding photography requires a certain kind of person to be successful, newborn photography necessitates that photographers have a certain skill set to make a go of a business that revolves around photographing tiny, sometimes temperamental people.

Add to that the delicate care that’s needed to ensure the safety of newborns and the utter exhaustion of the baby’s parents, and you’ve got a recipe for a high-stress job that not everyone can master.

Having said that, fortunately, there are many photographers out there that are perfectly suited to this kind of work, and their images not only show off their talents but also melt your heart with cuteness. I mean, just look at the featured image above and tell me that’s not the most adorable thing you’ve seen today…

If you’re interested in becoming a newborn photographer, just have a look at these examples, take these tips to heart, and see what kind of photos you can create.

One of the simplest

This Why Iceland is a Photographer’s Paradise

Light and dark. Warm and cold. Fire and ice…you name it, and Iceland has it.

These types of contrasts provide all kinds of fodder for photographers and videographers that flock to the island to get epic photos and videos.

Finding new angles to document this wonderland is becoming ever harder, given that so many people travel to Iceland to see its beauty and share it with the world.

But that didn’t stop filmmakers Monica Civitenga and Carlo Sarzi from discovering a unique way to present Iceland in a new light.

Where others might seek to exclude the throng of visitors from view, Monica and Carlo embrace it.

Much of the footage in their video above, Iceland – Land of Contrasts, shows the interaction between people and the beautiful scenes found all over the tiny island nation.

In that regard, the video isn’t just about the contrasts that naturally occur here; it’s about the contrast of unspoiled beauty and humanity’s role in documenting it, preserving it, and celebrating it. Have a look, and be ready to be impressed with up-close views of waterfalls and geysers, ice-covered beaches, wildlife, and, of course, people.

The Solid Neutral Density Filter

We continue our Mastering Filters series today with an in-depth discussion of 5-stop solid ND filters. As a whole, ND filters allow you to control the exposure, thus increasing the length of time you can leave the shutter open, even during daytime shooting. The results of using a 5-stop solid ND filter can be quite breathtaking, as I think you’ll agree by looking at the featured image above!

Creating breathtaking images like that with a 5-stop ND filter is a lot easier than it might seem. Let’s explore a little bit more about 5-stop ND filters and see just what sort of benefits they provide you as you explore the world of long exposure photography.

Wide Range of Subject Matter

There’s no shortage of subject matter to photograph with a 5-stop solid ND filter. With one of these filters, you can photograph streams, waterfalls, and rivers such that they have smooth, milky water as seen above. You can also lengthen light trails on passing cars as seen above, such that their headlights and taillights stream across the width of the frame.

For more advanced subject matter, you can use

Examples of the Black and White Photos

There’s just something about black and white photos that exude class and sophistication.

That’s on full display in the featured image above. The woman would be beautiful in a color shot too, but in black and white, the lines of her body, the contrast of her pale skin against the dark background, and the soft, even lighting turn this into a show-stopping photo.

Granted, not all black and white photos are winners, and unlike some photographers think, black and white shouldn’t be the go-to treatment to try and rescue images that are poorly lit, not composed well, or suffer from some other malady like blurriness.

That means that though black and white photography can be more forgiving, it shouldn’t be treated like a rescue project for bad photos.

Instead, with the right approach and preparation, black and white photos can turn into gorgeously elegant shots, no matter the subject.

Let’s examine a few black and white photos to see this elegance in action.


There is elegance in simplicity, and this portrait of a little girl demonstrates that concept well.

Not only does the close-up view of her face put

Unique Photography Products For Your Business

Whether you’re already in business for yourself or you dream of one day having your own photography studio, there are plenty of things you can do to set yourself up for success.

One of those things is to devise a solid business plan that outlines each step of the process, from coming up with a business name all the way through implementing your plan and executing your goals.

Naturally, you need to have the artistic and technical chops to create gorgeous photos as well.

Another thing you can do to make your success more likely is to stay up-to-date with products and services that can make your life easier.

From adding unique products to your packages to handling the books to marketing your business, every facet of your business can be enhanced simply by keeping your finger to the pulse of what’s new (and what works) in the world of professional photography.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce you to three unique products and services that will help you build a more successful photography business.

Hanging Branch Photo Boxes

One of my favorite new companies is Hanging Branch, an

Reasons Photographers are Losing Interest in Apple

For many years, there were only a few photographers in my life that didn’t use Apple products.

Everywhere I looked there was a sleek laptop with an illuminated Apple on the back because photographers always chose to work in the Mac OS environment.

In fact, I’d venture to say that the vast majority of photographers worldwide have used Macs to do their post-processing for a good, long while.

However, that’s beginning to change – and fast.

But why?

The primary reason for this shift is the introduction of new tools, particularly from Microsoft, that are simply more intuitive, more versatile, and less expensive than the competing products from Apple.

What’s more, where Apple used to be light years ahead of others regarding style, design, and functionality, that’s no longer the case.

I think it’s safe to say that the innovation torch has been passed from Apple to Microsoft…

Let’s examine a few reasons to back up this claim.

The Surface Studio is the New iMac

If you haven’t seen a Surface Studio or worked with one, let me just quickly summarize it:

It’s got an impossibly thin, tilting

The Pitfalls of Buying and Used Camera Gear

I know there are some photographers out there that feel like they have to have new gear.

I’m not one of them.

Sure, it’s nice to have that new camera smell or new lens feel when you unbox your brand new piece of equipment.

But I think we can all agree that buying new usually means shelling out big bucks.

Personally, I’d rather put that extra money towards buying used gear and building a more robust kit than having a few brand new things.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes, buying used can be an adventure.

And I don’t mean a good adventure, either…

With that said, let’s explore a few pitfalls of buying used gear as well as a couple of distinct advantages you can enjoy if you opt to buy quality used gear.

Pitfall #1: You Don’t Know What You’re Getting

Sure, the ad for the “like new” Nikon D810 body on Craigslist looks appealing, especially with the $1,000 asking price.

The photos on the listing might even look compelling.

The description of the camera might include flowery adjectives that make it sound