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.

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)

Lightroom Tutorials

30 Amazing Lightroom Tutorials for Better Photo Editing – Exposure School:

Lightroom is extremely useful for organizing your photos and for post processing. With each new version of Lightroom that has been released more and more of your editing and processing can be done directly in Lightroom without needing to even open Photoshop. Another nice thing about Lightroom is that the learning curve is not as steep as Photoshop’s learning curve.

I’m a huge fan of Lightroom and this site includes a lot of cool and fun tutorials to use Lightroom to make your shots even better.

Leading Lines: From Roads & Borders to Infinity

Leading Lines: From Roads & Borders to Infinity

You may have seen these two photographs being shared around the Internet. They strike at something very profound in us, although we might not know exactly what it is. The Tuscan highway glows with lively warmth at a cool, meandering pace, while the Swedish/Norwegian border is cold and biting, but exhilarating. These images show just what a symbolic and telling tool a leading line can make.

This is a great example of who you are as the viewer affecting and influencing your opinion of a photograph.

Some people will view this as a lovely photo – and objectively, it is. But, as a certain kind of motorcyclist, I find this picture to be BORING AS HELL!

That ruler-straight road for miles and miles would just be tedious for me. I’m the kind of motorcycle rider who wants windy, twisty roads so I can throw my bike into corners, leaned over at higher than legal speeds. 🙂

So, who I am influences my feelings about the image.

Beginner Photography Classes in Prince George, January 23rd, 2016

Eventbrite - Learn how to use that expensive DSLR!
Eventbrite - “Learn how to take Better Photographs

JANUARY 23rd, 2016



Hello Prince George Macintosh User Group Members!

Whether it’s an iPhone 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 you took.

We are scheduling two classes: The first will be “Learn how to take Better Photographs“ – a repeat of our previous successful class and again at the Prince George Civic Centre. It will run from 9am to 12:30pm on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. This class is for any camera – 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. We’ll cover how to take better photos with the camera you already have, what are the ways to capture the best images and what are some do’s and don’ts of great shots!

We’re adding a “Learn how to use that expensive DSLR” class as well! It will run from 1pm to 3:30pm on the same date – Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. This class will be focused on more of the details of the DSLR and its operation. We’ll talk about things like Aperture Priority, Photo Editing, Back Button Auto-Focus and lots more!

We’ve tried to cover all the bases – if you missed the previous Prince George beginner class, the Saturday morning “Learn how to take Better Photographs“ is for you. If you have a DSLR and want to learn more about how to use all those fancy buttons to get even more creative shots, the afternoon “Learn how to use that expensive DSLR” class is the one you want. You can even take both classes for a full day of learning more about taking better photos in general and DSLRs specifically!ep_Parrot

The classes will be $49.95 or 10% off if you sign up for both classes.

Eventbrite - Learn how to use that expensive DSLR!
Eventbrite - “Learn how to take Better Photographs“

JANUARY 23rd, 2016

The classes will include:

  • “Photography Secrets Revealed!” – do you know the single most important element of every good photo?
  • Camera differences – what are the pros and cons of a smartphone vs a point and shoot vs a DSLR?
  • Get the most out of your DSLR – learn what the settings of your DLSR do and how they affect the photos you take
  • So much more!

We’d love for you to join us for a fun, entertaining and informative day designed to help you take better photographs no matter what camera you have! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Email Shawn at



This is a seminar run by a professional photographer and a “Professional Explainer” for beginners and novices who want to learn how take better photographs. We take often confusing photographic terms and concepts and turn them into plain English so you can start making the most of your photographic opportunities to capture those special moments.

We can teach you some of the ideas, theories and techniques professional photographers know and use in every one of their images. With that knowledge, we promise your photography will get better – regardless of the kind of camera you have!


Shawn is a talented photographer and a “professional explainer” who has taught students around the world how to create memorable images.


What others say:

Sandro — “I came away highly impressed, not only with the technical aspects of this kind of training and the Google Hangouts venue, but also the value of Shawn’s course to any budding photographer.”

Jason — “Shawn has some very practical tips to improve anyone’s photography. Emphasis of basics like this can’t be underestimated.”

Melonie — “We are all really impressed and pleased with all we learned…we cannot wait to take photos. We will definitely be recommending this class to our friends!”

Heather — “Shawn you are an exceptional teacher and we all learned so much. We will all be looking at, and taking, our pictures totally different now thanks to you!”

Eventbrite - Learn how to use that expensive DSLR!
Eventbrite - “Learn how to take Better Photographs“

JANUARY 23rd, 2016

Best Superzoom Lens for Travel

Whether you’re traveling near or far, it’s nice to travel light. We search for the best superzoom lens for travel & put 8 space-saving optics head to head. Best superzoom lens for travel: 8 lightweight optics tested and rated

If you can afford a higher quality lens, go for it but the selection here of mid-ranged but “super” zooms is a good one, especially for the traveller. More zoom range means fewer lenses to carry around.

But keep in mind, these mid-ranged lenses may not have the f/stop range you are looking for.

10 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Photographers

10 Most Common Mistakes Made by New Photographers
Whenever I teach, I get a lot of requests to review images. Over time, I’ve started to notice that a majority of the mistakes I see come from the same small group of errors that are repeated constantly, particularly by less experienced photographers.

Please keep in mind that all of these common mistakes can also be advantages when done well and with purpose. This article is not about those times, but is an observation about how often I see them done the wrong way. As a photographer, you need to build the right foundation of skills before you can successfully veer away from them.

One of the most important things you can do as a beginning photographer is think. Think about why you are shooting the image and what you want to convey. Many of these tips are things I think about almost subconsciously (because of lots and lots of practice!) when I go out shooting.

Think more about your shots – you’ll take fewer and you’ll capture better images!

Hot Air Balloon Festivals

Hot-air balloon festivals are a visual treat for many. Not only do they provide a stunning perspective for their passengers, but their playful shapes, colors, and themes make these floating vessels excellent subject matter for photographers, both on the ground and in the sky. Here is a look at some of the 2015 balloonist gatherings around the globe. The Boston Globe

I’ve always told my students, if you ever want guaranteed great photos, find a hot air balloon festival.

Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners

So you have decided you might like to try getting into photography, you have either just acquired a new camera or are about to, where do you begin? Here are some photography tips for absolute beginners to help get you started.

These are very basic but also very true. I’d add one thing: Like everything in life, in order to get better at it, you must practice, practice, practice. But, perhaps more importantly, you must practice *good* things. There’s no point in practicing taking bad photos. 🙂

That’s why the tips of taking classes, reading books, and connecting with other photographers is so important. They will all help you to learn what makes a good photo so you can go out and create your own!

Back Button Focus Made Easy

Back Button Focus Made Easy

Learn how to master the pro skill of back button focus in just three steps so you can get sharper shots of moving subjects.

You may not be familiar with this shooting technique but, if you have a DSLR, I’d encourage you to find out how to set it up on your camera. It takes a bit of getting used to but I promise that, if you master it, you’ll get better shots.

Vacation Pictures from Mexico!

Kim and I had an amazing time at the Grand Sunset Princess Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!

infltr: Filter Photos with over 5 Million Color Hues

I’m a complete iPhone Photo App Junkie (IPAJ) and have over four hundred (and counting!) of them. Here is the latest cool one I’ve found:

infltr is a camera app that lets you add filter before you capture a picture. Move your finger and see the filter change in real-time. Pan across in any direction to discover infinite filters.
Affiliate link:
infltr: Filter Photos with over 5 Million Color Hues

The only downside is the filters only occur on live shots – that is, before you take the photo. You can’t (yet) import photos from your camera roll and use the infltr engine to transform the image.

Edit Any Photo on the Internet with Polarr’s Plugin


Popular browser-based editor Polarr has released a new plugin for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that enables users to instantly edit any photo.

This will be useful for my classes to show live editing but it might be scary for photographers and undoubtedly has copyright issues associated with grabbing just any image off the web and “making it your own”. If you use this, please be respectful of the artist’s copyright.

Sunrise, Sunset with Rizon

Every photographer will tell you that the Golden Hour – the half hour before and after sunrise and sunset – is the “best” time to shoot outdoors. The light is “different” – less harsh with a different color temperature and quality. But the times of sunrise and sunset keep changing from week to week and season to season.
I use Rizon (affiliate link) to send a message on my phone each evening reminding me of when sunset is (I’m less likely to want a message when sunrise happens!). From the developer:

The idea behind Rizon was that it’s usually a pain for the casual photographer to find out when the best time of day to shoot photographs outdoors is. Sure, there are other apps that tell you the same sort of information, but sometimes it can be an information overload. I just wanted a simple way to see when Golden Hour was happening, along with Twilight and the time of day to avoid harsh shadows.

Rizon uses your current location and date to work out the times for you. You can also use a custom location (which is available offline) and custom dates to help you plan photo-shoots in advance.

I’m also really forgetful so we have 2 different types of reminders. Quick Reminders let you just set one-off reminders for the upcoming two Golden Hours or a custom date. Repeat Reminders are sent every day (depending on the settings you choose) so you don’t have to do anything. Rizon will just ping you when to get outside.

It’s a well done, simple, inexpensive app (affiliate link) that can serve as a great reminder to get out there and take pictures!

Pixelmator for the iPad Now Available. Just Buy It.

While Photoshop is the 800lb gorilla of digital image editors, Pixelmator certainly gives it a run for its money, doing 75% of what Photoshop can do at a fraction of the price.

If you watched the Apple iPad Launch Event in September, you would have seen a demonstration of Pixelmator for the iPad. Those of us who are fans of the desktop software (and the developers behind it) were very excited by the idea of Pixelmator on our iPads. For me, it was a matter of, “OK…take my money! How much of it do you want!?”

Luckily, Pixelmator for the iPad is only $5. Just shut up and go buy it now.