Welcome!

Welcome and thanks for visiting the site! I assume you’ve come to this page because you’ve heard about me from the great team at Finisterra Travel.

I am working with Finisterra to put on an amazing trip. They’ve arranged an exciting vacation to one of the prettiest, most interesting places in Europe – Portugal! My job is to help you learn how to capture images while on your vacation that you can be proud of, show to friends and family and even print off to create artwork in your own home.

DSC_9712 by ShawnKing

It doesn’t matter what camera you have – I will teach you how to create better, more memorable images regardless of whether you have a camera phone, a point and shoot, a mirrorless or a DSLR. You’ll learn how cameras work, how to see a scene better, and how to set your camera up to capture what you see.

While in Portugal, you’ll learn the basics of:
General travel photography tips and tricks
Specific camera tips and tricks
Street Photography
Landscape photography
Editing
Black and White shooting
Street photography
Sunrise/sunset shooting
Photo Critiques

There will be daily classes followed by hands-on shooting at various beautiful and historic locations in Portugal. And you’ll have plenty of time each day to wander around on your own (or hang out with me!) to see the sights, go shopping, visit museums, or just relax and do your own thing!

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If you are a fan of the Flipboard magazine app, check out the “Starting Point Photography In Portugal!” Flipboard magazine!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. My email address is shawn@StartingPointPhotography.com and I’m happy to answer any questions about the trip you may have.

I hope you can join us – I promise it will be a great trip full of fun and photography and you’ll come home knowing how to create better images on your next trip as well!

Our motto:

Taking pictures is easy.

Learning about photography is hard.

We want to make the latter as easy as the former.

We are Starting Point Photography.

Our mission is to help you

take better photographs with the camera you already have.

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Image vs Video

Which is better? A still image or a video?

Well, it’s an impossible question to answer. A lot of it comes down to personal preference. But, in some cases, the difference is stark and obvious.

Many of you may have seen this lovely photo of First Lady Michelle Obama give President George W. Bush a hug at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the weekend:

It’s a lovely photo, full of warmth, love and respect.

Today, a video from that same moment has been posted:

It’s a fascinating look at the differences in stance, emotion, feeling, result. Granted, our assumptions and knowledge of who these people are informs our opinions of the moment (would we feel differently if the two people involved were unknown to us?) but it’s still a very interesting example of the difference that can be had with a video vs a still image.

Nikon D3400

In the market for a new or first Nikon? This was just announced:

“The D3400 is a 24.2MP DSLR that’s compact and lightweight and features SnapBridge connectivity to easily and quickly share images.”

Nikon D3400

Pete Souza’s 55 Favourites Photos of POTUS


Pete Souza’s 55 Favourites Photos of POTUS

I love Souza’s photos. Many of them capture a good man doing a very difficult job. I’ve often wondered how much of that impression is because of Souza’s eye vs how much of it is Obama vs how much of it is any human being in the same situation.

Top 10 Lenses Photographers Never Leave Home Without

Top 10 Lenses Photographers Never Leave Home Without:

Whoever said the lens is always more important than the camera was right. To this day, even with all the amazing development of digital sensors, nothing beats good glass. A good lens will make your older camera feel like a new one, but a cheap, plastic lens will turn your shiny new camera into a beat up old hack.

Without further ado, here are ten serious lenses loved by photographers worldwide.

Later this month, I’m headed to the Vancouver Flea Market Camera Show and I’ll be on the lookout for good deals on a couple of these lenses.

Cruise Ships leaving Vancouver harbour, headed to Alaska

Photoshop Versus Lightroom Which is Right for You?

Photoshop Versus Lightroom Which is Right for You?
The obvious question is, as a photographer, which software package do you need? Both titles are excellent and carry their own strengths and weaknesses, so let’s drill down and examine them in a bit more detail to discover which one is right for you!

When it comes to software, this is probably the most commonly asked question. My answer is, while I personally prefer Lightroom, if you know and use Photoshop, then use Photoshop. If you aren’t familiar with Photoshop, Lightroom is the way to go.

6 Reasons You Should Be Printing Your Photos

6 Reasons You Should Be Printing Your Photos



Part of my move to start printing my photos comes from my desire to create and share something tangible and special in this age of digital noise and the culture of “now” and “more.”This post is written to other photographers who might be considering buying and using a photo printer. I’m printing exclusively with the Canon Pixma Pro 100 and couldn’t be happier with the results. Below are some reasons why you should start printing.

I’m a big fan of printing off some of your photos. Along with the reasons included in this post, there’s just a certain “something” about holding your photos in your hand in a tangible, physical form and a sense of pride to be able to take your own work and hang it on your wall or to give to a friend.

There are all kinds of places to do printing online or even locally. Here in British Columbia, I’ve used London Drugs to very inexpensively have some of my shots printed (I also have an Epson R2000 printer at home). Grab a cheap frame from Walmart and a couple of hooks and you’re good to go. I love when friends come over, see the photos on the wall, ask about them and I can say, with no small measure of pride, “I took that shot.”

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2
  • Camera: iPhone SE
  • Focal length: 4.15mm
  • ISO: 320
  • Shutter speed: 1/15s

The Nik Collection is now free!

From Google:

Photo enthusiasts all over the world use the Nik Collection to get the best out of their images every day. As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we’ve decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.

The Nik Collection is comprised of seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities — from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects, to image sharpening that brings out all the hidden details, to the ability to make adjustments to the color and tonality of images.

If you run either the Mac or Windows version of Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or Photoshop Lightroom, grab these plug-ins!

East Van Brewery & Blossom Self-Guided Walking Tour

Walking, beer and photography! Two of my favorite things…. 🙂

I saw this on the Inside Vancouver web site and thought it might be kinda fun and different. According to Google Maps, it looks like about a one hour, 5km walk – but we’ll take longer than that!

There are eight East Van Breweries on the tour – I plan on stopping at at least half of them. Wanna come with me? 🙂

Why Asking What Camera Settings Were Used is Not as Helpful as You Think

“Settings are only a small part of what makes up that image. Lighting conditions, post-processing and the outcome the photographer wants to achieve, are just some of the factors that will dictate what settings the photographer uses. It’s akin to having the correct ingredients for a cake, but not knowing the method behind making it, or the reasons behind that method. Relying on camera settings alone does not tell you anything about the environment the image was taken in, nor does it give you an indication of what the lighting conditions were like.”

Source: Why Asking What Camera Settings Were Used is Not as Helpful as You Think

The article makes the good point that, even if you know exactly what an image’s settings are, there is a lot more to what goes into a great photo. Knowing the settings can help but don’t expect that, just because you know what settings a photographer uses, you can create the same memorable image.

How Peacocks Look In Mid-Flight

The peacock is the Kanye West of birds. After all, they do have over 200 colorful elongated feathers that attract not just their potential partners, but many people’s attention and cameras, too.

Source: How Peacocks Look In Mid-Flight

I love images of “ordinary” things doing stuff we don’t see every day. I’ve seen many peacocks but I’ve never seen one in flight.

Starting Point Photography is Offering Two Live, Online, On Demand Beginning Photography Classes!

P5180145I’ve had several people ask recently about the live, online classes I offered last year so I thought I’d post some info about them.

The classes are limited to a max of five students each. In most cases, they will be one-on-one. They are done live and on demand via the internet using Google Hangouts. You sign up and tell me when the best time to do the class is – you can even do the class in your pajamas! Don’t worry – you won’t ever be on camera. 🙂

“Learn How To Take Better Photographs!”
Whether it’s the camera on your phone or a point-and-shoot or a DSLR, we’ve got easy-to-grasp tips, tricks and techniques we promise will make the next photograph you take better than the last one.

This is a fun, informative and entertaining 2.5 hour seminar for beginners and novices who want to learn how to take better photographs. Often confusing photographic terms and concepts are turned into plain English so you can start making the most of your photographic opportunities and capture those special moments.

The class will include:
“Photography Secrets Revealed!” – do you know the single most important element of every good photo?
“Creative vs Technical” – Learn how to take advantage of all aspects of photography
“Camera Differences” – what are the pros and cons of a smartphone vs a point and shoot vs a DSLR?

DSC_9712 by ShawnKing

“Learn How to Use that Expensive DSLR!”
Lots of people bought DSLRs but have never learned how to fully utilize all those wonderful buttons on them. So you end up using your expensive gear as if it were a point and shoot.

Let’s change that!

I’ve got easy to grasp tips, tricks and techniques I promise will make the next DSLR shot you take better than the last one. We’ll also talk about the features of a DSLR, how the various functions affect, positively and negatively, your images and how to “see a photo” before you push the shutter button and make changes to your DSLR to create that image.

The class will include:
“Photography Secrets Revealed!” – do you know how to capture the single most important element of every good photo?
“Creative vs Technical” – Learn how to take advantage of all aspects you DSLR camera
“DSLR Differences” – what are the pros and cons between full frame and cropped, between mirrorless and not?

And much more!

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Both classes are run by a professional photographer and a “Professional Explainer” for beginners and novices who want to learn how to take better photographs.

Past participants have said:

“Shawn was a great presenter. He was very informed and entertaining as well.”

“I enjoyed that it wasn’t too technical.”

“Inspired me to start taking more pictures and playing around with my settings…and reading my manual.”

“Friendly and engaging instructor! Very visual!”

Signing up for either class is easy. Individual classes are only $75 each or you can sign up for both (and do them at different times) for only $125. Simply Paypal payment to shawn@StartingPointPhotography.com and then let me know a time that is most convenient for you! If unable to use Paypal, let me know and we can make other arrangements.

The only time requirement is that you set aside approx 2.5 hours to complete each of the courses. Also, your computer needs to be able to run Google Hangouts. We can test it ahead of time to make sure.

If you have any questions about either class, please don’t hesitate to contact me at shawn@StartingPointPhotography.com.

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Firefall: When a Yosemite Waterfall Looks Like Lava

Firefall: When a Yosemite Waterfall Looks Like Lava

For a short time every February, when conditions are just right, Horsetail Falls in Yosemite gets transformed by a phenomenon known as “firefall.”

This is an amazing photograph made all the more incredible by the fact it doesn’t happen every year. You have to be lucky as well as good to get the shot.

The really funny part is this image – dozens of photographers patiently waiting for the shot:photographers during FirefallBetter get there early!

6 Mirrorless Cameras that are Killing It

6 Mirrorless Cameras that are Killing It

The last four years have brought some pretty big changes in the photography industry, and the transition made by many photographers from the “classic” to DSLR to the mirrorless camera is one of the most important. Mirrorless cameras have become just as common as DSLRs. Yes, they’re killing the higher end compact camera segment (in cahoots with the smartphone industry), but evolution cannot be stopped and this is one case where change is for the better.

Mirrorless cameras are awesome because they’re lighter, faster and better looking than DSLRs. Some of them deliver equal performance while others are just shy of achieving professional level image quality. Without further ado, here are 6 awesome mirrorless cameras that we recommend.

Even though I love my Nikon D600, I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras, too. If you want better image quality and flexibility than your camera phone but don’t want to “lug around” a big DSLR, there are some great options in the mirrorless market for you.

The Yin and Yang of Photography: The Artist and the Geek

The Yin and Yang of Photography: The Artist and the Geek

One of the things I love about photography is it appeals to both the geek and the artist in all of us. On the geek side you have the technical considerations of making an image; the f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field, histograms, dynamic range, all the stuff we must all master in order to communicate our vision.

On the artistry side things are a little tougher to define, shape, color, composition, mood, balance, and that fickle mistress light, to mention just a few.

To make a great photograph we have to find the balance between the geek and the artist.

I love this article because it encapsulates the two sides of photography that really appeal to me – the creative and the technical.

  • Camera: Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 5000 ED

8 Reasons You Should Buy a 50mm f/1.8 Lens

8 Reasons You Should Buy a 50mm f/1.8 Lens

When people ask me what lens they should get after buying their first camera, I always tell them to buy a 50mm f/1.8 lens because it’s one of the cheapest.

One of the first lenses I recommend beginning photographers buy is one of the “Nifty Fifties”. They are relatively inexpensive, generally better than the kit lens that came with your camera, great in low light conditions and will force you to move your feet to get the shot rather than just zooming into it.

Canon Nifty Fifty (affiliate link)

Nikon Nifty Fifty (affiliate link)