Living The Dream: My New Online Photography Course

Living The Dream: My New Online Photography Course

Announcements

Living The Dream: My New Online Photography Course

Living The Dream

 

The Ultimate Guide to Landscape, Wildlife, and Travel Photography

A photo expedition to one the planet’s bucket-list destinations can easily cost many thousands of dollars in guides, food, lodging, and transportation. And don’t even get me started on how expensive photography gear can be these days. So how heartbreaking is it to return home from your trip-of-a-lifetime only to find your photos to be disappointing, lacking the technical refinement, excitement, and emotion of the experiences you just had? Wouldn’t it be wise to invest just a fraction of those costs into a comprehensive learning experience that will guarantee better photographs from your next trip, whether that’s elephants marching across the African savannah, first light on the peaks of the Rocky Mountains or even a favorite photo location close to home?

18 years ago, when I became a full-time professional photographer, I literally started with nothing. Since then, I have traveled to more than 60 countries in pursuit of exotic lands and magic light, completed assignments for National Geographic, The New York Times, and the BBC among other clients, and built a social media following of more than 1.2 million. I guess you can say I’m Living the Dream but I’m really just doing what I love. Now I want to share with you everything I’ve learned – as well as what it takes to be a professional nature, wildlife, and travel photographer – since I became a pro in 2003.

Living The Dream

In this course, I’ve carefully and thoughtfully laid out what I believe are the most important photography lessons I wish someone had taught me when I was starting out. Here’s just some of what’s included:

  • 5 hours of premium video content (watch it from our site or download it for life). This includes brand new material not covered anywhere else, including a 80-minute sit-down interview on camera, Photography and the Six Principles of Art presentation, composition, long exposures, scale versus personal vision, natural light, and a lot more. You get to see and hear me explain everything in detail with well-organized class segments using my own photographs as vivid illustrations.
  • Tips on the gear I use and proven wildlife photography techniques I’ve used all over the world.
  • Lightroom and Photoshop processing videos, including using and making your own luminosity masks, exposure blending with blend-if sliders and color channels, focus stacking, panoramas, and more.
  • 2 Bonus PDF books: Richard’s Epic Photo Destinations and Richard’s Guide to Going Pro.
  • My Lightroom Preset Collections: “Enhance” for color landscapes and “Transform” for Black and White conversions.

Consider this your preparation for that next bucket list expedition by upping your game now. There’s no better time to make that quantum leap in your photography skill set and knowledge than this current travel “hiatus.”

Join The Adventure!

By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 

6 Insightful Photography Tips for Beginners

6 Insightful Photography Tips for Beginners

General How-To

6 Insightful Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography Tips For Beginners

When I was first starting out in photography – I mean the very beginning when I wasn’t even sure which end of the camera to look through – it was difficult to find information about learning photography. It was difficult to get good information, I should say. And now, while there are photographers all over the Internet willing to teach you how to take photos in different places and media, there is very little in the way of just good, solid advice for those who know next to nothing. So after some thoughtful consideration, here are my top 6 photography tips for beginners. 

#1 No Camera, No Problem

If you’re just starting out in photography, it’s obviously useful to own a working camera with which to practice, especially one with manual control over exposure. But given the cost of even an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera these days, you can still get started with even the most basic of tools – your phone, for instance – while you save up for sometime with more control and options.

You can effectively use your phone to help in learning composition and image frames (what to include and exclude from the photo) to get a head start with one skill that even many advanced photographers struggle with. Ideally you would have a real camera with more control over the final image but in reality, a smartphone camera is better than no camera at all.

#2 Invest in Good Glass

When you do get to the point where you’re ready to invest some money in photo equipment, please take the following advice. Invest in good glass (hipster photography lingo for “lenses”) and less in the camera itself. You should almost treat digital cameras as disposable. Just as a car has a limited number of miles in it before it gives up the ghost, so does a camera with regard to the number shutter actuations before it dies. Also, the sensor technology in your brand-new digital camera will be obsolete in a couple of years. Lenses, however, can last a lifetime, as long as they are maintained properly and your camera manufacturer doesn’t change the lens mount. Bottom line, if your funds are limited, the better investment is in lenses, not cameras.

#3 Your Photos Will Suck

The French documentary and street photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson mused that your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. This is true of photography and most other things you try to learn as well. Your first 10,000 steps as a toddler were probably your most wobbly and unsteady too. Yes, your photos will suck at first and that’s ok. In fact, they might not be very good for many years. The important thing to remember is that you’re striving for improvement, not perfection. Improvement, not perfection. One day you’ll look back on the photos you took during your first year and find them absolutely revolting. And that will be the best feeling because you will know you made improvements along the way.

#4 Follow Your Passion

Ask yourself this question. What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning or the last thing that crosses your mind as you drift off asleep at night? I guess you can say this is a rhetorical question since what I really want is for you to realize is what makes you tick. What are your passions? If they are flowers, then photograph flowers. Wildlife? Photograph wildlife. Cars, beaches, people, pets? Find out what your passions are and train your lens on those things. I would advise against investing too much time on subjects that you are ambivalent about. What a waste! Share your passions! I talk more about this in my recent Twitter AMA.

#5 Experiment and Have Fun

Learn and absorb all you can about photography from books, classes, blogs, online tutorials, and social media. Learn, learn, and learn some more. But in addition to all that learning, make sure you make time to have fun too. Play with your camera. Choose the wrong lens purposefully just to see what you can make of the photo opportunity. Play with different settings and filters so you develop an intuitive understanding of how your camera works and what photography is all about. Your formal learning will be even more powerful when coupled with and intuitive feel for photography.

#6 Take Care Of Your Health

Take good care of your health. Eat well, sleep well, and take care of your body by exercising it regularly. Meditate if you are into that sort of thing. I sure am. If you’re not healthy, it will be difficult to be productive or to have any fun. If you’re not mobile, you will miss shots and opportunities which is frustrating. If you’re tired and exhausted all the time, it’s nearly impossible to be creative. Take that one to the bank.

Join The Adventure!

By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 

Breakthrough Photography Filters

Breakthrough Photography Filters

Announcements

Breakthrough Photography Filters

I just recently ditched my Lee Filter system and adopted Breakthrough Photography Filters as my preferred filter line for landscape and travel photography. The choice was actually pretty simple: Better glass, better coatings, better color fidelity, better build quality, and a 25-year warranty on their filters. Here’s more information:

 

  • WORLDS SHARPEST AND MOST COLOR NEUTRAL NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS: Breakthrough Photography’s X4 ND filter maintain a very well controlled and flat transmission all the way throughout the visible light spectrum and into IR, delivering the worlds most color neutral results.
  • MRC16 OPTICAL COATING: 16 Layer Multi-Resistance Coated to significantly reduce lens flare and ghosting while making the filter Anti-Scratch, Reduce Reflection, Water Repellent, Increase Surface Durability, Oil & Dust Resistant. These attributes are essential for working effectively outdoors. Our proprietary MRC coating is structurally harder than the glass itself and the reduced reflections improve the efficiency since less light is lost. 
  • NANOTEC: In addition to state-of-the-art MRC, their optical engineers developed new nano coating layer technology, called nanotec, from the ground up to repel dirt, water and other elements by beading rather than absorbing and smearing. Set in our workhorse and built to withstand extreme wind, salt water, dust and other abrasive conditions and elements.
  • 25 YEARS SUPPORT: Guaranteed to be free from craftsmanship defects for 25 years. When you activate your 25 Year Ironclad Guarantee online we associate your X4 serial number to you, so any future discussions on this unique filter are tracked, issues recorded and all that stuff which goes into future product design.

At top: The Breakthrough Photography X4 3-stop ND Filter slowing down the motion of the water in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bottom: The finely crafted Breakthrough Photography’s X4 Circular Polarizing Filters with blackened brass frames and traction grooves for easy handling in cold weather or with gloves.

Polarizing Filters

Breakthrough Photography advertises its 4X CPL Circular Polarizer as the “world’s most advanced circular polarizer.” The construction is made from blackened brass (less likely for the filters to stick together) with deepened traction grooves on the rim for an easy grip, even with cold, wet, fingers or gloves (although I’ve been told that these grove may interfere with your lens hood. I don’t use a lens hood so I’ve not experienced this). The glass is SCHOTT Superwhite B270® optical glass with nanotech® and multi-resistant coatings. The best part about these proprietary coatings is that rain and moisture slide right off the surface of the filter. With other filters, you might try to wipe off the rain or splashes and it just get smeared around. I tried it and it’s true! I’m amazed.

Neutral Density Filters

For years I have been using Lee Filters’ Little and Big Stopper ND filters (6- and 10-Stop respectively) for long exposure photography (see tutorial on using ND Filters for Long Exposure Photography). The quality of the Lee glass has never been an issue with me but it’s long been known by landscape photographers that these Lee filters impart an obvious and acknowledged blue color cast to affected images. See the examples above. The Breakthrough Photography 4X ND filters are truly color neutral and the glass and coatings are better than Lee’s. Formatt Hitech pushes the colors toward the cyan while B&W goes reddish-orange. These problems can be fixed in post-production (sometimes relatively easily and sometimes not so much) but why bother with that anymore?

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


New Irix ND32000 Neutral Density Filter

New Irix ND32000 Neutral Density Filter

Announcements

New Irix ND32000 Neutral Density Filter

In a recent post, Long Exposure Photography: Neutral Density Filters, I explained the use and importance of mastering neutral density filters, particularly for landscape photography. Well as a fan of Irix lenses, I am excited to receive their announcement of a new 15-stop neutral density filter, the Irix ND32000. Here is the Irix press release:

 

New Irix filter ND32000 - for those looking for more!

If you’re still searching for something more powerful then the ND 1000 filter, then Irix has some great news for you!

This young Swiss company had released a brand new filter for their Irix Edge family.

The ND32000, with an optical density of 4.5 and incoming light reduction by 15-stops, allows the user to get an exposure time of up to five minutes on a sunny day!

Therefore you can enrich your portfolio with mirror-smooth water and perfectly blurred objects in motion such as the clouds and city traffic, even under bright sunny conditions.

Thanks to high quality optical glass equipped with a special waterproof and oil repellent NANO coating, the filter’s surface is protected from stains and fingerprints and enables the use of the filter in extreme weather photo shoots.

What’s more, due to the possibility of screwing the filter onto the lens, you can be sure that each shoot made with the Irix Edge 32000 is protected from any light leakage.

The retail price for the Irix Edge filter ND32000 is 159 euros.

The product will be available on sale in the next few days.

Currently the Irix Edge family consists of CPL, ND and UV filters of various diameters & made especially for Irix super thin gel filters sets.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than 1.2 million followers across social media platforms. He leads photography tours and workshops all over the world and is a high-demand keynote speaker. For more great information on new images, book projects, public appearances, photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Richard’s Email Newsletter.

Long Exposure Photography: Neutral Density Filters

Long Exposure Photography: Neutral Density Filters

General How-To

Long Exposure Photography: Neutral Density Filters

One problem encountered when experimenting with long exposure photography is having too much light. You can’t get the aesthetic effect of those long shutter speeds without over-exposing the image. If it’s relatively dark – like dawn or dusk – that’s not much of a problem. But what if you want to express the illusion of time when it’s bright and sunny? Neutral density filters are the answer.

Neutral density (ND) filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera, allowing for longer exposure times than would be possible without them. The key is that they reduce light uniformly, so contrast and dynamic range are not affected – unlike a graduated neutral density (GND) filter. The primary purpose of ND filters is blocking light from reaching the image sensor.

ND filters are nothing more than darkened glass placed in front of the lens to absorb a percentage of the incoming light. They are available in different “strengths” usually designated by either the number of stops it slows down the exposure or in terms of optical density strength (see the ND filter strength conversion table below). A 3-stop or 0.9 density ND is ideal for waterfalls in bright sunlight, slowing the exposure to a second or so, depending on the f-stop and ISO used. A strong 10-stop or 3.0 ND filter can blur clouds over several minutes, even on a bright sunny day.

Neutral Density Filters Strength

Neutral Density Filters

The image below, Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina, would not have been possible without the help of a neutral density filter. Here is the exposure data from this image: 4.0 seconds, f/22, ISO 100, 6-stop ND filter. The correct exposure data without the ND filter would have been the same except for the shutter speed, which would have been 1/15 of a second (6 stops faster). As you can see, I am already at the smallest f-stop (f/22) and the lowest ISO (100) possible for my camera and lens.

There’s nothing else I can do in camera to slow things down to achieve the desired effect. Without the ND filter, the correct exposure would have been 1/8 second so a 4-second exposure would have badly overexposed the image. There is simply no way to create the smooth, silky water I desired under those bright, sunny skies without the ND filter absorbing some of the light that was reaching my camera’s sensor. Unless, of course, I wished to wait for less intense light once the sun went down or a cloud passed overhead. But then there’s that pretty little rainbow I would have missed.

So you see, neutral density filters may not exactly be essential, but they will certainly help achieve longer exposures and help you get shots that you wouldn’t have taken otherwise.

Circular or Square Neutral Density Filters?

When it comes to neutral density filters, you have two choices: circular screw-in filters or square/rectangle slide filters. Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Circular ND filters screw into the front element of your lens. Since you probably have several different lenses, each with a different size front element, you should also own a set of step-up rings for each lens rather than buying a separate filter for each size. Get one ND filter for the lens with the largest front element diameter (77mm for example) and step-up rings for the smaller sizes (52mm or 67mm, just to name a few).

The circular screw-in filters are convenient to carry around and store in your camera bag. They are also more durable and difficult to break. But stacking filters for more ND strength or adding a polarizer can darken or vignette the image corners. Singh-Ray makes a circular screw-in Vari-ND that allows you to adjust the strength of the filter’s density (1 to 8 stops as mentioned earlier) as well as a model with a built-in polarizing filter. But I have found these filters difficult to use and the filters are so thick that they vignette when used with wide-angle lenses.

Square or Rectangle filters (above) are glass or resin slides that fit onto the front of your lens with an adapter ring and filter holder. These filter systems come in different sizes. They usually do not vignette with wide-angle lenses, even when with filters stacked together. They are much more cumbersome to carry around and store in your camera bag, however, when compared to the circular variety. You should always weigh the options of both and decide which is best for you.

What Do I Use?

Over the course of my professional photography career, I have tried just about every type of neutral density filter on the market and I’ve settled on the filters made by Breakthrough Photography (All links below to Amazon).

Breakthrough Photography X4 3-stop ND Filter
Breakthrough Photography X4 6-stop ND Filter
Breakthrough Photography X4 10-stop ND Filter
Breakthrough Photography X4 15-stop ND Filter

Another alternative is the Lee Filter system and Lee Filter Holder – I will only use two slots at one time on the 100mm x 100mm filter holder. With this set up, I can stack two filters at the same time and not have any vignetting, even at 16mm.

Lee 3-stop ND
Lee Little Stopper 6-stop ND
Lee Big Stopper 10-stop ND

Lee Filter adapter rings for each lens: Most popular lens front element sizes are 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, and 82mm. For extreme long exposures in bright conditions, you can stack these filters, as I said. 10 + 3 for 13 stops and 10 + 6 for 16 stops.

Join The Adventure!

By subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you'll get timely updates on events, stories, my latest photos, and my favorite photography tips. Let me share this amazing world with you directly to your computer or phone. Come on, join the adventure!

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe.