2015 National Geographic Photo Contest

2015 National Geographic Photo Contest:

Every year photographers from around the globe share photographs that transport us to another place, connect with us emotionally, or stir us to action.

I love this contest! Even though I’ll never enter it, the photos represent the best of the best and show us not only the world around us but what is possible with a camera. National Geographic also allows you to download the photos for use as wallpaper on your desktop or phone.

What is your favorite shot?

Images from Scott Kelby’s 8th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk on Granville Island

I was very happy to once again be a Walk Leader for the Scott Kelby 8th Annual Worldwide PhotoWalk. These events are always a lot of fun and the idea of shooting at the same (general) time as thousands of photographers around the world is very cool.

We had about 40 walkers joining me for the walk around Granville Island, one of the more photogenic areas of Vancouver.

While I didn’t shoot as much as I normally would (a large photo walk is like herding cats!), here are some shots from Saturday.

What good looking bunch of shooters!

My favorite face of the day:

One poor lonely shoe. There’s a small child limping around Granville Island right now.


I love the juxtaposition of the text on the left (“participants wanted”) and the young lady on the right *not* participating. 🙂





And this one is my favorite shot of the day!


Interview with The Campfire Project about iPhone Photography

I was happy to be asked to appear on The Campfire Project podcast with Chris Domico and Matt Dusenbury. In this episode, we had a conversation where we “look at how far photography, and the stories those pictures tell, have come – from specialized service to everyday occurrence.”

You can listen in to the podcast by clicking here.

Thanks very much to Matt and Chris for the invite to appear on their show!

The Dunning-Kruger Peak of Photography

The Dunning-Kruger Peak of Photography:

Through their study, the scientists discovered that people who are unskilled at something — photography for example — are often unable to see how bad they are. Incompetent people will (1) fail to recognize that they are bad, (2) fail to recognize how good competent people are, and (3) fail to see the magnitude of their incompetence.

However, if given more training in what they’re bad at, those same people will recognize how incompetent they were (this is where people fall from the “Dunning-Kruger Peak”).

This is absolutely true for me and my photography skills and abilities. Luckily, I think I’m on the upward side of the “Jon Snow Trough”. 🙂

Black and White on Granville St

Inspired by my friend Antonio Rosario’s black and white shots he’s posted on Facebook, I went out yesterday specifically to shoot in black and white.

I set my Nikon D600 to show me the images I took on the LCD viewfinder only in black and white. Like most things, it takes practice (I shot 500+ photos with only 16 “good enough” to post and only half of those were in B&W) but it was fun and made me think about what I was shooting and the lighting differently.

It will be a long time before I’m anywhere near as good as Tony but I like the exercise.

Granville St


Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk 2014

Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk 2014:

Taking place in cities around the world, photographers of all walks of life and skill levels gather together to socialize, share and inspire during this one-day, worldwide event.

I had a blast being a Leader on the very first “Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk” many years ago in New York City and will be doing it again this year here in Vancouver.

I decided to have a particular focus on beginning shooters this year and hopefully making the walk a place where new shooters can come and experience what a photo walk is and ask questions of the pros that will also be on the walk with us!

There are walks literally around the world so, if you’re not here in Vancouver, take a look at the web site and see if there is one in your city on October 11th.

This is where the slick photos of military jets come from

The Washington Post:

Like other fighter jet manufacturers, Lockheed Martin has a team of photographers and videographers to record images of the planes it produces. They pose them at dawn and dusk, against mountains and over oceans.

Photographers such as Liz Kaszynski chase the jets in trail planes, documenting test flights and training missions—at high speed and altitude. But at other times, she calls the shots, a director with a camera, calling for a barrel roll here, a dive there, all documented in a sequence of prepared moves.

Wow. Talk about a photographic dream job!

F-22 Raptors at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. (Source: Lockheed Martin)

“Stop Taking Vertical Photos Already” STFU


This seems so obvious, but based on the number of people who still post vertical photos, it clearly isn’t. The world of vertical photography, once dominated by hanging portraits, magazine covers, passport and school photos, and leather-bound albums, has come to an end. We look at everything horizontally: our computers, our phones, our TVs. Our eyes are side by side, not one on top of the other. It’s time for a moratorium on vertical photos on the Internet.

Let’s get this out of the way right from the start – the author is a pompous asshat who thinks he know better than anyone else how you should take photographs.

It’s time for a moratorium on vertical photos on the Internet.Balloon8


The Web is inherently a horizontal medium…

Really? I seem to be scrolling up and down, VERTICALLY, an awful lot.

People who post vertical photos online are basically like your grandfather who still dials his cellphone with his index finger instead of his thumb.

Ignoring the stupidity of the insult, what difference does it make how someone dials their cellphone? Does it affect the call? Does it make the quality less? Would the person on the other end of the call notice?

Shoot however you want in what ever direction/orientation you want. Ignore “professionals” who think they know how you should hold your camera. If you’re getting the results you want and pictures you like, the professionals can go pound sand.

What does $164,000 worth of (used) lens get you?

Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM – Focal Length Comparison:

With its unusual build and unfathomable focal length, the Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM is anything but conventional. So, how does it perform and just how far can it be pushed? We took the lens to The Mall in London to put it through it paces and to see what Buckingham Palace looks like at 1200mm and beyond.

That lens is utterly insane. They even push it to 2400mm using converters.

Worldwide Photo Walk 2014 – Waterfront Beginner Shoot!

Join me on October 11th, 2014 for the “Worldwide Photo Walk 2014 – Waterfront Beginner Shoot!”

Worldwide Photo Walk 2014:

On Saturday, October 11, 2014, the whole world will be walking again during Scott Kelby’s 7th Annual Worldwide Photowalk™. Taking place in cities around the world, photographers of all walks of life and skill levels gather together to socialize, share and inspire during this one-day, worldwide event.

There are (so far) two photo walks here in Vancouver – I’m going to focus mine on and for beginners and novices shooters and encourage them to not just shoot but to ask questions and learn to shoot better!

“The World’s Biggest Photo Walk” on September 6th!


Next month sees the second 500px annual Global Photo Walk taking place on September 6th, promising to be the biggest photo walk of all time.

Thousands of photographers will head out from over 350 cities across the world in two weeks time, to take part in what looks set to be the biggest photo walk of it’s kind, ever.

I would dispute the claim of “World’s Biggest” if only because Scott Kelby’s “World Wide PhotoWalk” is bigger (with a claimed 900 Photo Walks and over 32,000 people last year) but that’s a quibble I don’t care about. I was a leader on the original Scott Kelby effort and enjoyed it immensely.

This time around, I’m going to be leading a group of 500px photo walkers around Vancouver, BC on Saturday, September 6th. If you’re in the area and are a member of 500px (it’s free to join), please sign up on the Facebook page. If you’re interested but not in Vancouver, 500px is arranging walks around the world at this Facebook page.

Police Can’t Order You to Stop Filming Them in Public or Force You to Delete Pics

Police Can’t Order You to Stop Filming Them in Public or Force You to Delete Pics:

A good deal of the footage coming out Ferguson, Missouri, this week has been provided by non-journalists, using their phones to record and photograph events. At the same time, reports claim that police are attempting to block both ordinary citizens and journalists from documenting the situation. What these officers either don’t know or aren’t saying is that you have the legal right to photograph the police, even when they tell you not to.

In light of what is going on in Ferguson this past week, this is a good reminder to both shooters and law enforcement.

Ultra-Rare Canon EF 1200mm – $165K

Ultra-Rare Canon EF 1200mm – $165K:

The ultra-rare lens that B&H Photo dubbed “The Mother of All Telephoto Lenses“, the Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM Super-telephoto, has surfaced once more on the World Wide Web. And with enough money and upper body strength, this one-of-about-twenty behemoth of a lens could be all yours.

If you’ve ever needed to take a picture of a mosquito on an elephants ass from a mile away, this is the lens for you!

It’s Not About the Camera

It’s Not About the Camera:

Recently I’ve had students challenge me about my photos, saying things like: “Well, you have all those big fancy cameras and giant lenses, that’s why your pictures are so good.”


Use your camera phone. Use your mirrorless camera with the kit lens. Use what you have and capture the memories – they’re what’s really important.

This is exactly the sentiment I try and get across in my classes. It’s not the camera that matters.

Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise, Moonset – easily found with PhotoPills

I’ve been using this insanely cool app for a couple of months now. It’s called “PhotoPills” (app store affiliate link) and, if you’ve ever wondered not only when sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset happen but where in the sky they happen, this is the app for you.

Every pro photographer will tell you that the “best” light is the “Golden Hour” – that time approx 30 minutes before and after a sunrise or a sunset. This app does what a lot of other apps do – it tells you what time the sun rises or sets. But PhotoPills (odd name) goes even further by showing you visually where the sun or moon is right now relative to you and in which direction those events and others are going to happen. It also does it into the future.

Here’s an example. I went to my home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia in June. I knew I’d be in a particularly scenic spot on the Friday. I was wondering where the sunset was going to be and at what time. I told the app where the location was on the map, forwarded to the date and time I was expecting to be at there and the app told me exactly what direction and angle the sun would be at. It also told me (sadly) there would be no moon that night so I didn’t have to plan that shoot.

The app does so much more. From an augmented reality view of the sky (so you can plan shots even better) to determining the best long exposure times or figuring out the field of view for any camera/lens combination. You can even save points of interest, share them and see what other shooters have bookmarked.

The only downside is…no – not the price. At $10 for a full featured app, it’s imminently reasonable (although, my eyes would like to have a native version for the iPad. It works fine on the iPad but…). The biggest downside is the learning curve.

We are so used to having our iOS apps be dead simple to use that, when we come across one that needs more effort, we tend to give it short shrift. But if you stick with the app, watch the videos on the PhotoPills web site and take in what they are trying to teach you, I promise it’s worth the effort.

For those of you who either don’t want all the power or are too cheap to spend the money, Rick Sammons has a 99 cent app called Rick Sammon’s Photo Sundial (app store affiliate link) that is a universal app similar to but not nearly as powerful as PhotoPills.

I’d recommend starting off with Photo Sundial and then, if you find it useful, moving up to join the Big Boys by using PhotPills. Neither app will dissapoint though.