Join us in Peru and/or Iceland!
Jan18

Join us in Peru and/or Iceland!

Of all the places we get requests to run tours, Peru and Iceland and far and away the most popular.  I get emails almost every week asking when our next Peru travel photography workshop will be.  I get about the same amount of emails for Iceland.  So, it was just a matter of time before we’d go back to Peru, and initiate our first workshop in Iceland. Going Back to Peru Our trip to Peru in 2014 was a massive success.  Not only did we have a great tour filled with incredible imagery, but we had an amazing group of participants which made the tour even more special. Peru is one of the most photogenic countries in the world.  It’s also one of the most diverse places in the world for photography.  In just a 2 week period, we’ll photograph the desert, the coast, the Andes Mountains, and even parts of the rain forest.  As far as subjects are concerned, there will be people, mountains, wildlife, seascapes, and so much more to photograph in the country.  As usual, Jeff Bartlett will be co-leading this tour with me. You can download the full itinerary for Peru here. And, for more information on the trip to Peru or to book, visit this page. Iceland! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be heading back to Iceland.  It’s one of my favourite countries to shoot, and definitely one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been.  As usual, I’ll be running the Iceland photography workshop alongside my buddy and fantastic photographer, Jeff Bartlett.  He has also spent a lot of time in Iceland scouting locations and organizing this trip.  We’ll also have with us a local photographer named Ivan Olaffson who will help guide us around and show us some of the secret photo spots off the usual beaten path. For the full itinerary for Iceland, click here. And, to book, or for some more information on the trip, click here. Images from Peru and Iceland If you’re interested in seeing some of the imagery you can come up with in these two incredible countries, check out the videos below.  The first one is a piece I put together from my first time in Iceland in which I spent a week exploring the ring road of the country location scouting. The second video is from my last photography workshop in Peru: Can’t Join These Ones? If you can’t join these photography workshops, but are interested in potentially joining one in the future, be sure to sign up to the form below.  That way, when we launch future workshops you’ll be...

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Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park
Dec28

Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park

I love being based in Phoenix. While there’s not a massive amount of things to do in the city itself, it’s surrounded by really cool locations all within about a 4-5 hour drive.  One of those places is Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go back and shoot under the stars for a while now.  So, while here in Phoenix, I’ve been checking the weather and the moon cycle for the past week waiting for a dark night with clear skies.  As soon as a clear night came, I jumped at the chance to make the 3 hour drive to the park to shoot the stars. Testing the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens Another one of the reasons I wanted to make the run to Joshua Tree was because I got a new lens.  I picked up the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens which is a bit of a specialty lens for star photography.  It’s manual aperture and manual focus, but at an aperture of f/2.8 it’s great for star photography.  And, at only $290 it’s not a heavy expense either. Overall, I’m really happy with the lens. It’s sharp and crisp, and from a technical standpoint I haven’t noticed any major issues of vignetting of chromatic aberration.  I’m very pleased. Although, I do want to use it a few more times before I come to any conclusions. Star Photography I feel like star photography is one of the skills where I still have a lot of growing to do.  So, I love heading out and shooting the stars because it’s always a learning experience.  On this trip to Joshua Tree, I really focused on putting myself in the frame as often as I could.  So, I set my camera up on an intervolemeter and raced around to different parts of the image to capture myself in the scene.  I’m so incredibly happy with how they turned out.  Especially this first photo.  I shot it on December 26th, and I think it’s my favourite photo of 2016. What’s Next I’ve got a lot of new gear coming, so look for some reviews as well as some new vlogs.  I’m only in the Phoenix area for a week longer, and I have a few more areas I want to explore. Then, I’m off to Colombia for 2 weeks before heading back to Europe.  After a couple weeks of catch up over the holidays, it’s about to get busy...

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Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal
Dec25

Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal

Well, I’ve got a new toy.  For a while I’ve been going back and forth on whether to buy a 3-axis gimbal.  But, I’ve always kind of just fallen back on my GoPro to vlog on.  But, in Cuba when I lost my GoPro, I made the decision that it was time to start putting the effort in to up the quality of the vlog.  And, to do that, I’d just my Sony a6300, but I really wanted the footage to be stable as well as higher quality.  So, I decided to pull the trigger on a Zhiyun Crane. On this episode of my vlog, I take the Zhiyun Crane out for a test drive here in Phoenix with my parents.  If you want to see the specs on the Crane, click here. Quick Thoughts on the Crane Although I’ve only used the crane for a couple days, I have a few thoughts that I thought I’d share. 1) It’s Heavy I have my Sony a6300 mounted up on the crane right now, and I think for the most part that’s how it’ll be.  It’s heavy.  It’s not so heavy that it’s impossible, and in reality when I’m filming most things I don’t really notice the weight.  However, where I do notice the weight is when I’m holding the camera out in “selfie” mode and filming myself. I’m going to get a serious workout holding this thing for long periods of time. The benefit, I guess – aside from the free workout – is that it’ll force me to talk less per clip, which is a good thing. The other thing is that even if I’m a bit shaky holding it, it’s a stabilizer so you don’t notice. 2) I Need a Mic Solution Currently, I have a Rode Video Mic Pro attached to my Sony a6300.  I love the mic, the sound is great, and it rarely picks up wind.  But if I’m using the gimbal, the mic hits the top of it on rotation. So, I have to pull it off and on each time I want to use it. And, that wouldn’t be a bad thing except for the fact that I need to re-balance the gimbal each time I take off, or put on, the mic.  I need to find a small mic solution.  Any suggestions? 3) It’s Smooth! Yeah, the Zhiyun Crane is smooth.  I’m pretty blown away.  There are times it jumps – like when I spin it 360 – but it is very smooth.  There was one shot I did while hiking the other day that almost looks like a drone shot....

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A 360 Vlog From the Drakensberg Mountains
Nov01

A 360 Vlog From the Drakensberg Mountains

After shooting some extremely high quality 4k footage in the Drakensberg Mountains yesterday, I went a completely different direction in this episode. Today, I tested out a new gadget that I bought: the LG 360 degree camera. It’s only a $200 camera, so I didn’t really have high expectations for it from a quality standpoint. But, I do have to say it was a lot of fun. Rather than just doing a typical (read: boring) review of the LG 360, instead I took it out on a hike in the Drakensberg Mountains and did an in-the-field review. I think it makes it a lot more fun. Look for most of my reviews in the future to be this style. Now, check out the footage from the LG 360: About the Camera The camera is probably not good. That’s the short end of the discussion.  The image quality is horrible. It’s soft, it’s muddy, it’s over-saturated, and the stitching is terrible.  Honestly, it’s a bit of a novelty item rather than a usable camera.  At only $200 that’s really how LG is selling their 360 camera I think.  Even the photos are soft.  I would love for them to come out with a camera of similar size that was far sharper.  I would pay $800 for a camera like that. Because, these 360 videos are actually a lot of fun. The two real strengths to this camera, though, are the audio quality (which is very good), and the app (which is also very good).  Other than that, I can’t really recommend it for anything aside from using for fun with some friends. So, yeah, for now, I won’t really be making this a staple of my photography gear. But, I may add a 360 camera at some point in the future. Hiking Sterkhorn Peak in the Drakensberg Mountains It’s kind of funny, I stayed at a place called Inkosana Lodge which is run by a mountaineer. I told him I was looking to do a summit and asked for some advice. Basically, he shrugged me off like it wasn’t going to be possible. Of course, he didn’t ask if I had experience, if I hike a lot, or if I have any mountaineering experience. Had he asked, he’d have found out I grew up in the mountains, and that just last month I was climbing peaks like this with a 50lb Google trekker on my back. In the end, he recommended a peak called Sterkhorn. The way he described it, it was going to be a challenge to summit. I was told it would take about 7 hours from the...

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Turn Your Regular Vacation into a Spa Holiday
Jul11

Turn Your Regular Vacation into a Spa Holiday

You’ve always wanted to go to a special spa holiday with an exacting regimen, a healthy, refreshing diet, massages and sea and sand. The advantage of a spa vacation is that you are in a regulated environment where it is difficult to cheat on your diet or avoid exercising. In addition, you are vacationing with other people who are involved in the same health regimen as you are, and therefore, you can enjoy companionship and support. If a spa holiday is what you are looking for, but it is not within your budget, try creating a mock spa holiday that has all of the elements of a healthy getaway without the price tag. Finding Accommodations First of all, it is a good idea to do this along with a friend who will also have useful ideas and can give support for achieving fitness goals. A vacation by the sea is conducive to good health and provides many opportunities to relax and enjoy the scenery while soothing your body and mind. You can take a jog on the beach, swim a mile in the ocean, surf, snorkel and simply relax in the sand. Hotels that are close to beaches tend to carry a high price tag, so choose a hostel within reasonable walking distance to a beach. Walking or jogging to and from the beach can be part of your exercise routine and can save you money. The advantage of hostels over hotels go beyond budgetary considerations. People tend to be more friendly and outgoing in a hostel, and often there is a shared kitchen and refrigerator where you can keep your own items. This provides a great advantage to those who are committed to healthy eating because you can prepare your own natural and organic dishes while you are on vacation and don’t have to go out of your way to find healthy restaurants. It is a good idea to locate cafés and restaurants in your area that have vegan and vegetarian options. One of the first places you will want to visit is an organic supermarket to stock up on supplies. Your Spa in a Suitcase Consider taking an extra suitcase filled with items that are focused on your spa experience. These can include mud wraps, gel packs, massagers and essential oils. Roll up your yoga mat and you can lie down in the room of your hostel beside an aromatherapy candle while you and your travel companion can take turns giving each other massages. Bring some relaxing music on your iPod, put in some earplugs to eliminate distractions and let the warm soothing energy wash over you....

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Best photo ops on the island of St. Lucia
Jun07

Best photo ops on the island of St. Lucia

St. Lucia is one of the Caribbean’s most spectacular islands when it comes to its scenery. From mountains and attractions that trace their origin to this place’s volcanic past, to its collection of paradise beaches, there are plenty of subjects to focus on here. Once you have booked your place using the following St Lucia holidays – Caribbean, plan your photographic itinerary slotting in the following points of interest on St. Lucia. The Pitons The remnants of two volcanic plugs that remained after the volcano that formed them eroded away, the twin peaks of Gros and Petit Piton are an iconic image of St. Lucia. Featured prominently in tourism literature and depicted on the label of its national beer, it is a scene that every photographer visiting the island will want to capture before heading home. A popular place to get a shot of these twin spires is from Hummingbird Beach, which will give you a beautiful foreground to contrast with the majesty of the Pitons in the background. Additionally, the main road between Castries and Soufriere has excellent sight lines – just be sure to pull well off the road before setting up your gear. Halcyon Beach The islands of the Caribbean are famous for having some of the most photogenic beaches in the world, and St. Lucia is no exception to this rule. While the previously mentioned Hummingbird Beach is a great place to kill two birds with one stone, those seeking straight up shots of a tropical paradise without having the Pitons in the background will find great subjects on Halcyon Beach. This place might be occupied by a resort, but know that all beaches in St. Lucia are open to the public by law. With white sand, droopy palms, and water that shimmers with multiple shades of blue and green, you’ll have plenty of things to shoot during your visit here. Sulphur Springs St. Lucia was formed through volcanic activity, and these forces continue to influence the island in the present day. The best example of this can be seen at Sulphur Springs, where the magma deep within the earth heats up sulphur-rich mud springs to temperatures that exceed 170 degrees Celsius (340 degrees Fahrenheit). The steam rising from the pools, the broken earth surrounding it, and the lush vegetation on its periphery can be challenging for amateurs to capture, but for skilled photogs, this attraction is a compelling subject. The baths nearby offer muck heated to a soothing 45 degrees Celsius (110 Fahrenheit), so don’t forget to pack your trunks! Pigeon Island Home to British forts that were used to keep an eye on the French stationed in nearby Martinique, Pigeon Island is a great place for those looking to do a history set...

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