Mark Roberts: Finding Inspiration in Landscape Photography

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All images by Mark Roberts. Used with permission.

Photographer Mark Roberts is an English photographer based in Lapland–more precisely right on the arctic circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. Mark got into backpacking due to his love of the wilderness which eventually turned into the creation of his blog, Backpacking North. This is how he combined his love of photography with hiking.

His photography work and knowledge eventually turned into him leading photo tours–which is a big leap from his humble beginnings of working in the darkroom in high school.

Mark’s knowledge of shooting landscapes is incredible and helped him overall become a better photography by not really chasing the light, but making it work for him.

Mark tells us “If I sat around waiting for golden hour on a backpacking trip I wouldn’t get very far. It’s far more important to exercise your skills and take photographs at all times of the day, and more importantly in all conditions.”

Our interview with Mark is after the jump.

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Ray Dennis’s Conceptual Surrealism is Done in Camera With no Photoshop

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All images by Ray Dennis. Used with permission.

Photographer Ray Dennis is a 29 year old creative who hails from Ann Arbor Michigan–and who is currently aspiring to own his own real estate photography business. But his beginnings are rooted in photographing car shows for fun. It became more serious and eventually Ray learned more about lighting and conceptual creativity. He came up with ways to create images that look totally surreal and did them without the use of Photoshop. Instead, Ray strived to get it all in the camera.

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Five Lightweight Tripods That Won’t Feel Like You’re Carrying Extra

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One of the biggest problems with carrying a tripod around is that it can sometimes feel like you’re carrying around way more than just your camera and lenses. Whether you’re traveling or just not in the mood to lug around something massive, you’ll want something that can slip into your camera bag and get the job done. Fortunately, there are lots of great options for photographers out there that need a tripod in instances like these.

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Why The Details Are So Important in Your Images

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I have a saying and a standard that I try to live by, which my mentor taught me. It goes: “The best images deliver the details and don’t force your viewers to search for them.”

They find a way to reach out of the screen or print and grab at someone. Want some great examples? If we really had to list them, we’d say compelling food photography, close and intimate street photography, shocking images in the news, etc. These photos find a way to tell a complete story in a single photo. But this doesn’t always mean that you need to overthink your process. It’s sometimes just as simple as getting a different angle.

For the sake of being vain, let’s analyze something that everyone does: food photography that you post onto your social media pages. After the jump, you’ll be able to see two images that I shot; and one is clearly more detail oriented. Sure, they’re both quick snapshots, but one image clearly tells a lot more than the other.

So with that said, you should keep in mind that absolutely no subject is boring–you just haven’t found the right angle that will inspire people or elicit an emotion. And as a photographer and artist, it’s your job to do that.

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Lens Battle: Standard Pro Zooms for Mirrorless Cameras

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Mirrorless camera manufacturers have been working at creating better lenses and building out their systems. Very recently, the manufacturers with APS-C and Four Thirds sensors came up with constant aperture pro zoom lenses for their cameras.

Now don’t get us wrong: no manufacturer is making a bad lens or camera. In fact, all of them are superb. So with that in mind, we went about rounding up the information that we collected and figuring out which lens delivers the most pleasing results based on the specific system that they work with.

Our results are after the jump.

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Matt Bigwood: The Lens Inside a Psychiatric Hospital

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All images by Matt Bigwood. Used with permission.

Photographer Matt Bigwood is no stranger to the Phoblographer. We featured his very long pinhole photo project a while back; but today, he comes to our site showing off a documentary project that he’s been working on for many years. “When I began photographing there the attitude was more relaxed – Romania was not in the European Union and the head of the hospital realized that the pictures did more good than harm. Romania was still perceived as an under-developed former Eastern Bloc nation.” says Matt about the project. He continued to state that the overall mood of the patients there was also quite upbeat.

In 2014, the charity folded due to lack of funding. According to what Matt tells us, there is a perception by some people in the UK that since Romania joined the European Union, and border restrictions within the EU have been lifted that Britain is overcrowded with Romanians and other Eastern European workers who are having a negative effect on the UK economy.

“…and the knock-on effect was ‘why should I donate to a charity that helps in Romania?’.”

Matt started the project on the understanding that they could help fundraising for the hospital. “If a patient was reluctant to be photographed I would not take the picture. I joined the charity in 2000 and was a member until it folded and made a dozen or more trips there.”

The rest of Matt’s documentary photo story is after the jump.

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Review: Phottix Indra 500 TTL

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Indra 500 TTL product images review (8 of 8)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 3.5

This is the review that almost didn’t happen; and we have pretty much no one else to blame but ourselves.

The Phottix Indra 500 TTL was announced back during Photokina 2014, and we got our test unit back in December. Phottix’s reputation is associated with delivering products that are affordable, reliable, well built, simplistic, and effective. And when the company stated that the monolight included TTL capabilities with both Canon and Nikon cameras in one monolight plus lots of creative controls offered with other lights, it seemed like an immediate win-win situation.

Then the unit came in: and what I didn’t know at the time was that my 5D Mk II was slowly on its last legs. Additionally, we didn’t know that the first version of the Odin trigger (used the transmit and control the light) didn’t work so swimmingly. Instead, we switched to the Canon Rebel SL1 and the Canon 6D–additionally we used the Odin version 1.5. When these switches were made, we had pretty much no problems; which a high emphasis on pretty much.

We played with the Phottix Indra back around Photo Plus 2014, and found it to be a great deal. In a single package you get a light that is both AC and DC capable, has TTL transmission for both Nikon and Canon (with the possibility of Sony coming), manual light control, stroboscopic mode, an adjustable modelling light, ports for other transmitters like PocketWizards, and a well built body.

Despite how incredible the Phottix Indra 500 TTL is, it’s still not the perfect monolight–but it’s possibly the closest thing to it on the market.

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How to Make the Most of Your Camera’s Kit Lens

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm XM1 review images (2 of 6)ISO 2501-40 sec at f - 5.6

Though many photographers will turn their noses away from the kit lens, they’ve continued to improve over the years and manufacturers haven’t ignored them. Sure, the build quality isn’t the best but they can deliver sharp images with beautiful bokeh, and also create images that will otherwise astound you.

The only thing you that need to do is figure out how to use them, and with that comes understanding of your kit lens.

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Make a DIY Softbox/Beauty Dish for $2

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There are lots of really cool hacks that you can do to turn something or another into a softbox or beauty dish. Photographer Trent Dang came up with a very affordable solution using a very underrated reflective material: styrofoam.

By taking a small styrofoam food container (that looks like it’s had a more than adequate amount of cleaning and perhaps bleaching), Trent was able to cut a hole in it, stuff a flash head, add a diffusion sock, and also incorporate a bounce card to add extra diffusion.

Granted, this is something that we’d use only if an actual softbox broke down. Real softboxes are all about specific shaping of the light, add different reflective and diffusion properties and overall just look much more professional. We surely wouldn’t roll up to a wedding with a softbox made of styrofoam and it also wouldn’t be the best constructed thing to use.

Just think: if the DIY Softbox takes a tumble it’s going to shatter into a million pieces. But again, if you need to MacGyver something in a hurry, this isn’t a bad idea.

The video showing you how to make a DIY Softbox/Beauty Dish for $2 is after the jump.

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Aury Glenz: How to Shoot Better Pet Portraits

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All images by Aury Glenz. Used with permission.

Photographer Aury Glenz has always been an animal lover. He is a wedding and engagement photographer, but also does pet portraits on the side. According to him, the secrets to better pet portraits has to do with the body language–and much of it can be in the ears of the animal.

We chatted with Aury about what it takes to shoot better photos of our furry friends.

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This is Why Your Photography Website Sucks

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An inherent problem happens when you’re an editor of a photography website tasked with reviewing the images of many people. Photographers from all walks of life tend to want to make us look at their images–and we are incredibly grateful for that. But at the same time, we find many websites to be seemingly made during the Geocities days only to give way to your Myspace. Website design and navigation has progressed further than this, and the problem is that many photographers don’t understand it.

Here’s the key: make your website simple to use and navigate and folks will want to go through it all.

Don’t be lazy. You’re better than that.

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Shane Welch’s Foxtail Furs Project Showcases Adorable Foxes

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All images by Shane Welch. Used with permission.

Photographer Shane Welch has been shooting documentaries for a while now, and most recently his Foxtail Furs project caught our eyes. He splits his time between Chicago (where he grew up) and Seattle, Shane travels a lot in order to create documentary projects, and that’s how he was able to do the Foxtail Furs project. It’s about a family that lives on an island in Lake Michigan that raises foxes.

And for Shane, it was about telling their story.

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James Bitz: The Basics of Shooting Senior Portraits

unnamed (8)All images by James Bitz. Used with permission.

One of the biggest fields of portraiture has to do with shooting portraits of high school seniors before they ship off to college. Quite obviously, they’re called senior portraits and are a type of environmental portrait that tells a bit about the subject.

Photographer James Bitz hails from Lincoln, Nebraska and is a master of the senior portrait. He has a unique creative vision that we describe as playful, authentic, down to earth, and overall beautiful. It started when he bought his first DSLR back in 2007–a Nikon D70.

Since then, he’s honed himself into quite the portrait shooter. And he shared a couple of his tips and tricks with us. But for even more, you should check him out on Instagram.

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The Planning Involved in Photographing Mountains

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All images by Erwin Van Asperen. Used with permission.

What would it take for you to scale high mountains where the oxygen gets thinner and it gets much colder just for you to take a beautiful photograph? Photographer Erwin Van Asperen is one of those shooters. Born in Holland, Erwin is a musician, civil engineer and photographer that started his craft in 2008 after catching the travel bug. When hiking across Europe, he figured that capturing the sites that he saw would be his other creative outlet.

We talked to Erwin about switching from Nikon to Olympus a while back, but now we chatted about what it’s like to hike up tall mountains and capture epic mountain views.

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Using Photography in an Effort To Get Dogs Adopted

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All images by Stuart Holroyd. Used with permission.

Back in August, photographer Stuart Holroyd reached out to us to share the Bay Tree Project–a photography initiative aimed at getting shelter dogs adopted. Stuart, like many of us, has a love of the furry canines and wants to help them. Shelter dogs are a difficult subject because what happens to many dogs is very depressing. And that’s where Stuart wanted to use his photography skills to help many of the wonderful pooches get the homes that they deserve.

Stuart learned a lot along the way–and we talked to him about what it’s like to coordinate a giant project like this, believing in yourself, and accomplishing goals.

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Why Good Photography is Like Good Cooking

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer CAnon 1D X and 24-70mm f2.8 II Top Chep cookoff at Photo Plus 2012 (6 of 23)ISO 400

Photography shares something very big in common with cooking: they’re both art forms. But the best cooking is said to be done with lots of care and love from chefs who meticulously slave to not only create meals that will taste incredible, but also satisfy the people that they’re making them for. For many, the act of cooking often involves using a recipe and modifying it to specific tastes.

And like cooking, photographers should aim to put care and love into the work that they create instead of blindly shooting a series of images and hoping for the best to happen with what comes from the camera. Keira Knightly said it best when she stated that photographers that worked with film often see the person more so than the image that pops on their LCD screen. And because of that, many film shooters try to put as much work into making the scene perfect before they even decide to press the shutter button.

Any photographer–whether digital or film–should aspire to make every image that they create be better than the previous one and much better than the one that they shot last week.

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Sarah Loreth on Photographing and Backpacking Across North America

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All images by Sarah Loreth. Used with permission.

Sarah Loreth is a photographer that positively embodies the sense of creativity and adventure. She used to work a typical 9-5 job but became very, very bored with it after a while. So her a couple of friends got together and planned treks across North America where they travelled together, lived out of a van, saw the continent, photographed and did workshops. While that may not sound like a lot to you, consider the fact that one trip took a year to plan.

Ms. Loreth has a fine art background and applied this to her travel photography. But she also faced the normal problems that every photographer running a business faces on top of the normal problems that troubadours of the camera often encounter.

We talked to Sarah about the logistics of a cross country photo journey and the best spots in North America to photograph, and her sense of composition.

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The Phoblographer’s 2014 Guide to Photography Lighting Tutorials

Model: Asta Peredes

Model: Asta Peredes

When it comes to lighting, you should absolutely never skimp on it when it comes to your photos. Photography is all about the act of capturing light and recording it. But knowing how to work with both natural light and artificial light is a skill.

Lucky for you, we’ve got over 53 solid lighting tutorials for you right here.

This post builds on our original lighting index.

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Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz’s Splash Heroes Uses Liquid To Create Costumes (Slightly NSFW)

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All images by Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz. Used with permission.

Photographer Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz is no stranger to the Phoblographer. He runs Aurumlight, and after we featured his Milky Pinups (NSFW) and they made the rounds on the internet, FairLife Milk purchased the images for an advertising campaign. But now, Jaroslav is out with a new project called splash heroes. The photos are being made into a new 2015 calendar that he has recently told the public about.

Jaroslav’s creations are both technical and creative masterpieces that require lots of work and can get very, very messy. His Milky Pinups required lots of calculations, exact placement of milk being thrown at a subject, precise timing of the camera/flash trigger, and lots of post-production. Splash Heroes builds on this concept but pays homage to many strong female heroes in the comics.

Mr. Wieczorkiewicz told us about the project before its announcement, and of course it whet our appetite for more.

You should also know that he plans to bring a workshop on this type of photography to the United States.

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This 1975 Darkroom Looks Like Its Out of Star Trek

 

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All images by Jack Turkel. Used with permission

Jack Turkel’s darkroom from 1975 was well worth being on MTV’s Cribs show many years ago–but even today his darkroom is turning heads and getting photographers excited; or at least photos of it are. Jack, being the creative that he is, decided to give his dark room a special touch and due to his fascination with NASA and other space age technology, he modelled it very much after that. He built it in his parents’ basement when his photo career was just starting to take off.

Today it is still around, but nowhere in the shining glory that it was years ago. We talked to Jack about the darkroom, the inspiration for it, and the type of work that he did down there in the 1975 darkroom.


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How to Pitch Your Photo Story and Get Results

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Thousands and thousands of photographers try to get published, featured or promoted every year–and thousands fail. Your photo story may be wonderful, and it may be the diamond amongst all the jewels but it just may not stand out enough. So how do you get yours in the door successfully?

Imagine if you will for a second that you are blindfolded and that you have to somehow or another get to a loved one. But you are surrounded by 500 people, and they’re all screaming out to you. Your loved one is also trying to get your attention and their voice is being drowned out by everyone else’s. Additionally, everyone is pushing you in one direction or another. But in the end, you have to get to your loved one.

That’s what it’s like to be an art buyer, photo editor, magazine/publication editor, and gallery gatekeeper. And you as the photographer are the loved one. That person needs to either find a way to get to you or you need to find a way to get to the right person. For ease of phrasing, we’re going to call them all gatekeepers.

Here’s how to pitch your photo story and get results.

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