My Worst Day Ever as a Photographer at the Olympics

This past Saturday was a really horrible day for me. But before I tell you all the story, I should preface this by saying that even though yesterday was brutal, I know that I am at the 2018 Winter Olympics and lucky to be here. OK, I got that out the way, so here it goes. After staying up until 2 am on the day of Opening Ceremony, editing photos, and writing blog posts, I was exhausted and went to bed. I had a free day with no hockey commitments and was hoping to sleep in a little before heading
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I Bought a Nikon 13mm f/5.6 AIS ‘Holy Grail’ Lens: Here’s the Unboxing

Late last Wednesday night, I was browsing the B&H Photo website looking for a refurbished Nikon D810. I entered “Nikon refurbished” as my search term, then sorted the results by price from high-to-low so that the D810 would float to the top. Lo and behold, right above the D810 as the first result was a “New Arrival” Nikon 13mm f/5.6 AI-S, refurbished with case. Remembering Ken Rockwell’s “Holy Grail” article on this lens, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The listing had no description and no photo, but after doing some research to make sure
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How I Shot the Tesla Roadster in Space from 1 Million Miles Away

Whatever your spin is on the SpaceX launch of the Falcon Heavy and the stunt of Starman and the Tesla Roadster, for a few days (at least) it put on our radar topics such as space and space missions, rockets, interplanetary travel or technological advances. In my case, once photos and footage of the car and Starman started to arrive and people wondered if it could be observed from Earth, there was just one thing in my mind: to find the answer to that question and if yes, to try take a picture — or better yet, a video
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How We Made a Mobile Darkroom for a Homemade 16×20″ Camera

In December 2015, Shane Arsenault and I had started talking about a joint photography project with the purpose of using his 16”x20” Bellows Camera on a larger scale, which would give us the freedom to work outside a conventional studio space. The main restriction when using this ultra large format camera is that you must have a darkroom in order to develop and switch out the film for each shot; since Shane had only constructed a single film back. With the intention of getting out of the studio and photographing the beautiful Alberta landscape, we set a goal: a fully
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Portraits of Rajasthan: Photographing Villagers in India

Driving through the cities and villages of Rajasthan provides for an intimate view of rural India. The sun-drenched countryside is dotted with a resilient vegetation common to drier, desert, climates. Villagers, mixed in with cows, herds of goats and the odd camel, walk the long stretches of roads between villages, pausing for rest under the sparse shade of Khejri trees. This is a part of the tourist trail that is rarely seen. The usual stops along the Rajasthan tourist trails are the cities of Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, and Udaipur. Air-conditioned tourist vans carrom between these cities, anxiously keeping to a
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How I Shot the Super Blue Blood Moon Rising in the London Skyline

Supermoons attract a lot of media attention. You’ll struggle to scroll through your newsfeed without reading about a big upcoming lunar event, especially if you’re following any of the photography news feeds. I recently photographed the super blue blood moon rising from the London skyline. A blue moon is a name for a second full moon in a calendar month. It is relatively rare, hence the expression “once in a blue moon”. The last one before now was May 2016. A supermoon is a name for a full moon when the satellite is at the closest point in its orbit
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Shooting a Magazine Cover with a Smartphone

I recently got a call from a client in Chile asking if I’d like to photograph Alexis Sanchez for the cover of COSAS magazine. Alexis is Chile’s most capped footballer was just transferred from Arsenal to Manchester United. He is also one of his country’s biggest celebrities. COSAS is Chile’s biggest selling lifestyle and celebrity magazine. Obviously, I said yes. The catch? The entire shoot had to be shot with a smartphone. Why? Because Alexis is a brand ambassador for Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant. Note: At this point, I should stress that I have not been paid by
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Shooting a Magazine Cover with a Smartphone

I recently got a call from a client in Chile asking if I’d like to photograph Alexis Sanchez for the cover of COSAS magazine. Alexis is Chile’s most capped footballer was just transferred from Arsenal to Manchester United. He is also one of his country’s biggest celebrities. COSAS is Chile’s biggest selling lifestyle and celebrity magazine. Obviously, I said yes. The catch? The entire shoot had to be shot with a smartphone. Why? Because Alexis is a brand ambassador for Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant. Note: At this point, I should stress that I have not been paid by
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How to Photograph Perfume Bottles with a Single Speedlight

High-end product photography can be done with fewer resources than many might think if you add creativity and careful execution. Here’s a 7-minute video from Dustin Dolby of workphlo that shows you how you can take professional perfume bottle photos in a studio with a single speedlight. Using a flash on 1/16th power, Dolby backlights the bottle by shooting at a white wall behind. This bounces the light back at the bottle, allowing it to refract around the shapes of the product. You can do the same thing using a diffuser if you don’t have a white wall nearby. To
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The Creative Process of Photography: A Case Study

I often hear: “I really like your photos. You must own an amazing and super duper expensive camera!” My reply to these people is: “If you own Tiger Woods’ golf club, would you be able to play at his level?” In Woods’ case, it all comes down to years of practice and a healthy dose of raw talent. It is true that — most of the time — more expensive cameras yield better image quality, but it doesn’t automatically come with image beauty. Just as in golf, the best results are achieved by spending a lot of time behind the camera, looking
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How to Dodge and Burn to Retouch Skin in Photoshop

Here’s a 14-minute tutorial from photographer and retoucher Zoë Noble that shows you how you can use dodging and burning to retouch skin in Adobe Photoshop. Noble always does her dodging and burning after having cleaned the skin, removing blemishes and other imperfections from the photo. Once all the prior work is done, new adjustment layers can be made to apply the tools non-destructively. First, Noble applies a Curves adjustment layer, increases the brightness of the mid-tones, and turns the mask to black. This is the Dodge adjustment layer. Then she does the same again, but darkens the mid-tones slightly, to
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This Guy Built an Ultimate Lightroom Battlestation for $6,000

Hobbyist photographer and Twitter product designer Paul Stamatiou recently decided that his 2-year-old iMac was no longer up to the task of handling his high-res RAW photos in Lightroom. Instead of shelling out $13,199 or $7,128 for a fully loaded iMac Pro or Mac Pro, Stamatiou decided to switch to Windows and build himself a custom Lightroom photo-editing monster. Stamatiou says he decided to ditch his iMac after returning from a trip to New Zealand and spending a year editing 848GB worth of data in the form of 11,000+ 42-megapixel RAW photos and 4K videos. Gamers commonly build their
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How to Take Great Portraits with Only One Studio Light

If you’re into shooting high-quality portraits with minimal studio equipment, here’s a 6-minute video from photographer Manny Ortiz that explains how you can take great, dramatic portraits with just a single studio light. “Using one light is not as easy as it looks,” warns Ortiz. There are plenty of things to keep in mind, as poorly controlled shadows can ruin your images. “It’s all about the placement of the light.” When shooting with just one light, Ortiz positions his light a couple of feet higher than the model’s head, angling the light down towards them. This creates a “flattering”
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How I Got to Shoot a SpaceX Rocket Launch from Orlando’s Soccer Stadium

As a photographer that isn’t associated with any news media, it can sometimes be difficult to get access to certain opportunities. With space, this is especially true, since access normally means the ability to place a camera near a launchpad in areas that are heavily restricted. This is a story of how it can never hurt to ask for permission.

Streak Rocket Shots

The first time I required a “big” camera to capture an image was for a rocket streak shot. This type of shot shows a rocket launching at night streaking through the air. It is created not by
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Film vs Digital: A Fashion Photography Shootout

Photographers Anita Sadowska and Alex Hutchinson recently did a “film versus digital” comparison through a fashion photography shootout. They photographed the same subject with Sadowska using a digital Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR and Hutchinson using an analog medium-format Pentax 67. Hutchinson started with a black and white film, opting for clothing with textured patterns to compliment the monochrome look. To ensure he’s getting the right readings (and because film is so expensive) Hutchinson uses a light meter and a digital camera to ensure everything is set properly. “If I feel like I’ve got the shot, then I only take
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Doing a Low-Budget Photo Shoot with DIY Props for Less Than $75

I love DIY props and big scenes in photography that are well designed. Not many of us photographers have the place or money to create our own stages so I wanted to challenge myself to make one in our living room with a very low budget. I had this idea of a photo with an environmental aspect that describes greed, gluttony, and overconsumption in our modern world. The scene is a rugged living room that has a disgusting and filthy man sitting on an old sofa, surrounded by all the waste of the food he has consumed. Before I started
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Developing Kodak Tri-X 400, Pushed to 6400

I just developed a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 shot at 6400 ISO. I’ve been wanting to try this little experience for a while now. Some films are known for handling push processing very well, and Kodak Tri-X 400 is one of them. Many photographers I know are even shooting by default at 1600 ISO but I wanted to push its limits 2 stops further. For this little experimentation, I was accompanied by my trusted Leica M6 and a recently acquired Voigtlander 35mm Nokton f/1.4 and shot the roll between Nice and Paris in different lighting situation. To process
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How to Shoot Good Travel Photos Even in ‘Bad’ Natural Light

Using natural light in your travel photos can land you with some amazing images, even if you think the light might be “bad” from the offset. Here’s an 18-minute video from photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich that shows how to harness natural light for powerful imagery. You might hear that shooting in harsh midday light is bad, but Mitchell disagrees. He says that the idea of good and bad light is “extremely limiting” for photographers. He admits that in the golden hour things look a lot richer and more “attractive and pleasing to the eye,” but says that “photography is so much more
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I Built the First Natural Light Wet Plate Studio in the US in Over a Century

There are fewer than 1,000 wet plate collodion artists practicing around the world, and as far as I know, I am the only one in the state of North Dakota. 5 years ago, I didn’t own a camera and knew nothing about photography. I saw a wet plate online and I was immediately drawn to it, and thus my journey began. I was told early on that there was no way a non-photographer who has never owned a camera can figure out this archaic process from 1848. 45 days after that conversation, I had made my very first wet plate
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How to Do a Photo Shoot from Start to Finish, From Planning to Editing

Photographers Rachel and Daniel of Mango Street have released a 5-part video tutorial series that teaches how to plan a shoot, find a suitable location, secure the ideal model, conduct the shoot, and edit the results. The shoot was conducted using a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Hasselblad x1D. Thoughts on the latter are found in the final video in this series.

Part 1. Conceptualizing a Shoot

In this video, learn how to create a mood-board that will guide you through the entire shoot process, keeping you on track. For example, with the shoot being inspired by the French vintage
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