Creating a Photo of Nail Polish Bottles in a Swirling Splash

For a recent project, I was tasked with creating hero images for a cosmetic brand. They commissioned me to work on several different shots for a range of nail polishes they are looking to market. I was put in charge of coming up with the creative angle and had the freedom to explore and execute the final result. The client was open to any suggestions or ideas, and I had fun putting it all together. My vision was to keep the design simple yet unique and deeply orientated towards the brand and product on show. Nail polish bottles are generally
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How I Shot the Falcon 9 Rocket Launch from an Airline Cockpit

“Oakland Center are you talking to that traffic at our 9 o’clock position? We got a yellow light out there and it’s coming up pretty fast.” This unusual radio transmission to Air Traffic Control from a Southwest Airlines jet caught our attention on an otherwise routine flight between New Orleans and San Francisco. It was the edge of night and we were cruising at 38,000 feet through a sleepy section of airspace above Nevada. The faintest glow of red dusk light remained along the western horizon but the rest of the sky had fallen into darkness. “Better get ready
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How Teenage Photographer John Kraus Shoots Rocket Launches

John Kraus is an 18-year-old photographer living on Florida’s Space Coast who has captured dazzling photos of major rocket launches over the past few years. VICE News followed Kraus to a recently SpaceX Falcon 9 launch and aired this short segment showing how the photographer works (it starts at 22m01s).
Still frame by VICE News Tonight/HBO
Kraus is given special access at launches as a member of the media. “I feel like it’s a viable career option, and that’s why I’ve decided to go all-in on it,” Kraus says. “I really want to show what the space program’s doing. I
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Long Exposure Photography from the Cockpit of a 747

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how I shoot long-exposure photos from the cockpit of an airliner and how they end up sharp, despite flying at roughly 950kmh/590mph/500kts through the air. I will try to answer that question in more detail, going through the process and challenges step by step. Hopefully it sheds some light (pun intended) on the techniques I use and for the pilot-photographers among us some valuable and easy-to-use tips for your next night-flight.

How it Began

Back in 2006, when I started flying the Boeing 737 all over Europe for Transavia, I
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Combining a Hasselblad 500C/M and a Fujifilm Instax 9

Instant photos are magical. They develop before your eyes. You can share them, gift them, spill water on them, draw on them. The only problem is that most instant cameras are pretty cheap — that’s why I’ve always wanted to hack my medium format camera to take instant photos with shallow depth of field and sharpness. This project was created in collaboration with Eddie Cohen over the course of one weekend. Hasselblad made a large Polaroid back for the 500 series to help photographers check their metering and lighting before exposing film. I’ve played around with one a bit, but
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How this Creative One-Shot Scene Was Done to Show the Passage of Time

The Showtime series Kidding has an episode that introduces a character by seamlessly showing how a single room in her home transformed over a long period of time as she recovers from addiction. It might look like CGI or clever editing, but it was actually done with careful choreography and a single take. The split-screen behind-the-scenes video above shows how it was shot. As the camera moves around the room, assistants constantly swap out elements in the room to show the character getting her life back together. Tricks used in the shot include moving walls and body doubles. Over a
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Photographing a Bullet Train Leaving a Tunnel at 190mph

Want a challenge to test your shutter finger reaction time as a photographer? Try capturing a bullet train zooming out of a tunnel up close. That’s what Japanese photographer Kunihiko Tsuji demonstrates does in the video above. The video is a 2009 episode of Begin Japanology on the subject of Shinkansen, or the bullet train network in Japan. At 19m05s in, the episode introduces Tsuji, a hobbyist photographer who has been focusing his lens on shinkansen for decades now. His skills in the niche have become legendary among photographers, and images of bullet trains from his 50,000-photo archive have graced
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On Leaving My Flashes at Home for a Portrait Shoot

It started as a regular booking inquiry from a client. They wanted to book me for an engagement shoot a month before their wedding. The destination was decided (the Port of Jaffa), and the time was set (an hour before sunset). I always make sure to coordinate clothing options with the client and remind them to make sure that the clothes are clean and ironed on the day of the shoot. The last thing you want is for the couple to arrive in mismatching clothes, clothes which don’t suit the style of the area you are shooting in or wrinkled
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Photographing Perfume Packaging Using Everyday Objects

As a still life photographer, I spend a lot of time in my studio experimenting with different types of products. In a recent shoot, I did just this by photographing a perfume box. But instead of photographing the packing by itself, I used everyday objects to create the scene. Still life photography isn’t any secret. That’s why I created this walkthrough to share the setup and story behind this image. With a little ingenuity and know-how, you can create a work of art that will help to really capture the attention of the viewer. Using regular shelves along with a
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I Took Apart My $2,300 Sony Lens to (Try to) Fix It Myself

I always put a lens hood on my lenses. Except… when they fall! As I recently finished shooting at 6 AM in the Maldives with my wife, I kicked my tripod with my Sony a7R III, Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM, and an ND-8 filter on it. The tripod fell over towards the ocean and, to my partial relief, fell on the wooden platform 7 feet (2m) below with the camera on it…
The Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM lens.
I thought the camera itself would be destroyed but only the lens appeared to be damaged. The external
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The Ultimate Guide to Forecasting, Shooting, and Post-Processing the Northern Lights

The crown of the (Ant)arctic. Known in the northern hemisphere as the Aurora Borealis (northern lights and as the Aurora Australis in the southern hemisphere, these brightly colored bands of moving and waving light are a majestic display in the night sky. The sun shoots out a constant stream of charged particles which we call the solar wind. When that stream interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, these particles are led to the poles through the toroid (donut-like) shape of the field. It’s at our poles where the stream gets concentrated and crashes into particles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
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How to Photograph the Back of the Hollywood Sign

It seems that every visitor to Hollywood wants to photograph the mountain with the Hollywood sign on it but rarely do people want to make the effort for a Hollywood sign hike to go photograph the back of it. If you can put in some extra time, photographing the back of the Hollywood sign will provide you with an amazing photo opportunity and a stunning 360-degree view of Los Angeles. The first obstacle to overcome is figuring out just how to get up there. The Hollywood sign is located at the top of Mount Lee. An asphalt road (Mt Lee
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‘Turn the Blind Eye’: How I Turned a Concept Photo Idea Into Reality

I’m not an environmental activist. I’m more or less a regular dude who hates taking out biowaste, still drives a diesel because it’s cheaper, and recycles plastic because my wife tells me to. I enjoy our Finnish lake views, clean air, and peaceful sunsets, but rarely thought about losing them… until recently. I was on one of my workshop trips, this time heading to Belgium to have a couple of workshops with Chromaluxe. I was browsing through the Finnair magazine and came across an article about the plastic pollution in the ocean and how people try to clean the garbage
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15 Hours Inside a Small Photo Blind

Everything outside the small photo blind is silent except for the two ravens perched on the top of a dead tree cawing and a few flies quietly buzzing around. I’ve mounted the 500mm lens on the camera and pointed it towards the pine trees far away. My huge, directional Sennheiser microphone is aimed in the same direction. I am in the wild Taiga of Finland, the home of brown bears and wolves, and these fascinating animals are the reason I am here. To photograph them and to share the behind the scenes videos on my YouTube channel and also, most
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Apple’s New Watch Faces Were Made with Practical Effects and Real Fire

Apple unveiled the new Apple Watch Series 4 last week alongside the new iPhone XS, and the watch features four new watch faces called fire, water, metal, and vapor. Although they may look like CGI creations, they were actually shot in a studio with practical effects. Coolhunting published this 1-minute video with behind-the-scenes looks at how the faces were made and captured:
As you can see, the crew set up a camera vertically above a large physical framing guide that represents the watch face. Here’s a 5-minute video by AppleInsider that shows the new faces found in watchOS 5:
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This Photo Took 3 Months of Planning and 5 Hours of Arranging Flowers

“I Bloom For You” is a new photo in my series I Found The Silence. The idea was created in June 2018, and it was followed by 3 months of planning. The main inspiration was to escape beyond the limits of everyday existence, somewhere where a man can be himself. Escape to a place where we meet ourselves in the purest way possible. The photograph, as well as the entire series, features elements of nature. In this particular artwork, it is the flowing river of flowers as the symbolism of freedom. Our own liberation — that should never be taken
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Ride Along: Photographing a Protest in Los Angeles

My name is Jayrol San Jose, and I am a photojournalist based in Los Angeles. I’m a professional photographer, but being new to journalism, I’ve found that covering protests is a great place to start. I’ve covered around 25 protests this year in the Los Angeles area. This one, in particular, was put on by Occupy I.C.E. Los Angeles. Warning: The video above contains some strong language. The group has been camping outside of the LA detention center since August 3, 2018, in opposition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (AK I.C.E.).
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Photographing the Eye of the Tiger (Shark)

How would you feel if you were standing at the stern of the boat as twenty 10-foot lemon sharks circle at the surface in front of you and in the depths below an even larger tiger shark cruises the algal reefs? Would you make that jump into the water, with nothing between you and these apex predators? Would you keep your calm? These are the questions that I find running through my head as I begin prepping my gear to make the trip out to tiger beach in the Bahamas. It’s the first time any doubt has crept in since
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Lighting a Photo Shoot with 100 Mini LED Lights

We are going to use 100 Lume Cube LED lights to teach you how continuous light can be used on a set. Using continuous light on set for still photography is a great way to learn photographic concepts and getting you comfortable with lighting techniques. Since continuous light never turns off, it’s much easier to see what the lights do and make easy adjustments. A key light will generally be a stop less than your rim light. First, you set your aperture, shutter, and exposure for your key light. Now the rim light is just a little brighter and gives
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Creating a Football Concussion Photo Illustration

I was commissioned recently to create a photo illustration for Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation’s Annual Report for a story on concussions in high school football players. This is a big issue not just for the NFL but also in youth sports. I think that originally we were just going to shoot a simple portrait of a young athlete in football gear, but after giving some thought to the issue, the art director and I collaborated on a few other more illustrative ideas. A few years ago, I had photographed Matt Schaub, the Houston Texans quarterback at the time for
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