Thursday, 19 November 2015

Review: Peak Design "Slide" Camera Strap

The majority of people that purchase a new camera will use the supplied camera strap or buy a cheap neck strap that may look and feel more comfortable. I mean... how important is a camera strap anyway!! Most people would say it wasn't important at all ....well they're wrong. Take it from us (and we are Professional Travel Photographers) that the humble camera strap is crucial in the difference between not only how you shoot but also how your neck feels at the end of a long day. For years, we used the "comfortable" neck strap that was extremely comfortable at the beginning but by the end of the day we were relieved to finally be able to remove it. Sure we could have had the strap over our head and sitting on one shoulder but this made it impractical when taking shots on the go.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Review - Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 & Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Macro 1:1 Di VC USD

As Travel Photographers we really have never had the opportunity or the need to shoot Macro images. However since starting our Meetup group we have met many photography enthusiasts that were interested in this genre. We were fortunate to have been given the opportunity to test both the Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro and Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro. These lenses would be considered Portrait/Macro lenses and ideal for these types of photography.
Shot with Sony A7R using metabones adapter with Tamron AF 90mm f2.8 Di SP Macro (Nikon mount)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Free eBook - 10 tips for Monochrome Photography

We have just launched another FREE eBook titled "Travel Photography - 10 Tips for Monochrome Photography". In the book we have shared some simple tips based on our combined experience of 5o years in the Travel Photography industry. Ideal for the beginner/amateur wanting to learn more about this genre of photography or anybody interested in Travel Photography in general. Over the coming months we will be launching a series of eBooks. To get your Free Copy click on the image below.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Review - Topaz ReMask 5

Topaz ReMask is designed on one simple idea: To create the best quality mask with minimal input. By using ReMask’s simple 3-color tri-map technology, users have the power to quickly and easily extract even the toughest elements — hair, foliage, and transparent materials — in their photos. The new updates to ReMask 5 makes it the most powerful masking software on the market. The two biggest additions to this version are the standalone capabilities and background replacement tools.

We have been using the Topaz suite of plug-ins for several years now and they are absolutely indispensable in our workflow to get the look we want from our images.  As Professional Travel Photographers we don't always have the luxury of time to wait for great light or  the ideal background. Sometime you just have to get the shot regardless of the background or light. 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Published - National Geographic

Our images have been published worldwide over the years in various publications such as books, magazines, calendars etc however we were pleasantly surprised recently when we received a request from National Geographic Books requesting to use the image below as a full page in an upcoming book titled "Destinations of a Lifetime". The image was taken by Helen in Aitutaki in the Cook Islands .

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Review - Sony FE 70-200 F4 G Zeiss lens (SEL70200G)

As mentioned in our last post, we recently added the Sony FE 16-35 F4 G OSS Zeiss and the Sony FE 70-200 F4 G OSS Zeiss lenses to our stable of lenses for the Sony A7r mirrorless camera. To read our post on the 16-35 lens click here. This lens has been available since about mid-2014 and was one of three highly anticipated lenses that Sony users were waiting for as there were few Full Frame lenses available at the time. This focal range is generally useful for Portraits, Nature and Sports photography.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Travel Photography - New Ebook

We have just launched a NEW eBook titled "Travel Photography - 10 steps when using Neutral Density Filters". In the ebook we have shared 10 steps when using Neutral Density 9 and 10 stop filters. This is combined with some great images and a printable Cheat Sheet for calculating your long exposures. The eBook is ideal for anybody wanting to learn more about this technique which is used by Travel Photographers to give their landscape images more mood and impact. For a Limited Time only the cost of the eBook is AUD$2.99. Payments can be made with Paypal. 

For more information about these filters you can also read our blog post by clicking here 

Over the coming months we will be launching more eBooks so Sign up for our Newsletter to be notified. To get the eBook click on the image below.

Travel Photography - 10 steps when using Neutral Density Filters

It would be great to hear any feedback you may have about the eBook so that we can make improvements to any future releases.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Steel Wool Light Painting

We recently had the opportunity to photograph some Fire Painting here in Sydney, Australia that was organised by some friends on Google+. Below are some of the images that were captured during the evening. If you ever get the opportunity to do this then you should give it a go. These are very easy images to take for those that want to try it for themselves. The biggest challenge is finding somewhere that has an interesting background. It is also best done right after sunset during the blue hour as this way you still get some nice colour in the sky and maybe some streaky clouds depending on the conditions.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Review - Sony FE 16-35 F4 Zeiss lens (SEL1635Z)

Back in December 2014 we made the decision to move from Nikon to the Sony mirrorless camera system and bought the Sony A7r. This camera is 36mp of sheer delight. We purchased it with the FE 24-70 F4 Zeiss lens which has been an absolute dream to work with. Despite the fact that DXO Mark rates this camera's sensor behind the Nikon D810 and Nikon D800E by the narrowest of margins, the size and weight of this camera more than makes up for the 3rd ranking. We guess this is the reason why so many professional photographers are now flocking to the mirrorless cameras systems and selling all their DSLR gear. Having tested the camera and lens thoroughly over the last 8 months we decided that it was so good that we were ready to purchase the expensive FE 16-35 F4 Zeiss and FE 70-200 F4 Zeiss lenses. This review will cover the wide angle FE 16-35 F4 Zeiss lens. We will review the other lens in another post. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Review - WD My Passport Wireless

We've been using passport hard drives during our travels since converting to digital from film in 2005. We always carry at least 2 passport drives and keep a copy of all images taken on each of them. These are used daily when travelling. We then each carry one of these with us at all times when in transit or alternatively leave one in the room or hotel safe and one in our camera bag. This way we reduce the chances of losing everything. Downloading the images in the past has been a time-consuming chore at the end of the day when you would rather be relaxing (preferably soaking your sore feet from all the walking!). We have always wondered why the manufacturers of external passport hard drives never gave customers the option to be able to download their images straight to the drive, saving them heaps of time.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Topaz Labs DeNoise

As Travel Photographers we are constantly shooting in all sorts of lighting conditions and quite often we have no alternative but to increase our ISO to get a shot especially when it is impossible to use a tripod. This is not a major problem on our Full Frame sensor camera that can handle higher ISO settings however on crop sensor cameras it becomes a problem at high ISO settings and especially if an image is underexposed. This is where Noise Reduction software comes to the rescue.

There are lots of Noise Reduction plug-ins on the market including Lightroom which also has Noise Reduction that does an average job of reducing Noise although we rarely use it. Third Party plug-ins, as far as we're concerned, always seem to have better results as the plug-in is dedicated to perfecting the results that it's been designed for. They are always far more intuitive than the features that are built into the major editing suites available and give you far more control. Please note however that we have not tested all the plug-ins that are available for Noise Reduction other than Lightroom, Nik Google Dfine and Topaz DeNoise.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Long Exposures - Using 9 & 10 stop ND Filters

Hoya ND400 2.7 (9 stops)

The Neutral Density filter is a very handy filter to have in your camera bag. Although it doesn't get used that often in our Travel Photography it certainly should be near the top of your list of "must have" creative filters.

What is an ND 2.7 & ND 3.0 Neutral Density Filter?

B+W ND110 3.0 (10 stops)
Both of these filters have the same purpose except the ND 2.7 reduces about 9 stops of light from reaching your sensor/film and the ND 3.0 reduces about 10 stops of light. To calculate the reduction of light of any Neutral Density Filter simply divide the number by 3 e.g. ND 2.7 / 3 is 9 stops. We essentially use these filters to create a smooth water effect in an image to give it mood and emotion although it also has other benefits.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Fiji Book: Kokoda Recipe + Free eBook

Thought we would share one of our yummy recipes from our popular book "Fiji Islands -The Heart of the South Pacific." The book has been selling in Fiji at many resorts and all major retail outlets for just over a year now. As part of this blog post we have created a sample version of the eBook which you can download for free here.

Kokoda (pronounced ko-kon-da) is a Fijian fish dish and one of our favourites. Every visit to Fiji we make sure we eat it as often as possible. It utilises common ingredients of the islands which can be found in most supermarket and stores around the world.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Travel Photography - Free eBook

We have just launched a FREE eBook titled "Travel Photography - 10 Tips to get you started". In the book we have shared some simple tips based on our combined experience of 5o years in the Travel Photography industry. Ideal for the beginner/amateur wanting to learn more about this genre of photography or anybody interested in Travel Photography in general. Over the coming weeks we will be launching a series of eBooks. To get your Free Copy click on the image below.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Sydney Photo Walk - May 2015

We have been having some shocking weather here in Sydney over the last couple of weeks. The Superstorm that we had almost 2 weeks ago left a trail of damage in many suburbs in the city. Since then almost every day has been gray, overcast or raining however this did not stop us going ahead with our Photo Walk on Saturday the 2nd May and although the attendance was small we obtained some great images of interior architecture throughout the city. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Filters - The Polarizer

The CPL (Circular Polarizer) essential filter for anyone that that shoots landscapes or travel. Over the years we have worked a lot in the Pacific Islands and this filter practical lives on the lenses. It is great for images where you want to darken skies giving it more drama and emphasizing the clouds, to cut through reflections off glass, or reduce glare from the surface of water or the sea. It also saturates colours to make the scene more vibrant, especially blue skies, bodies of water and foliage. It is one of the few filters that has not really been properly replicated in software.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Topaz B&W Effects 2

Travel Photography is about creating an emotion with the viewer. Most of the time you can do this with a well edited colour image but other times you can present certain images as a Black & White and it will give it a far greater emotional feel. For example, the image below titled "Nun in Naples" is nice in colour but the B&W version to us has a greater emotional appeal and was quite successful when released on social media platforms.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Review - 3 Axis Camera Spirit Level

People always ask us why we use these when most cameras now have great tools for keeping the camera level. We have been using them for many years attached to our hot-shoe and although initially, we used them only when the camera was mounted on a tripod we have found them to be very useful in other situations. There are many different models and can be found on eBay, Amazon or at your local camera shop.
Here are a couple of reasons why this cheap little gadget should be in your camera bag -
  1. They are very handy when using the camera low to the ground. They will make it a lot easier to level the camera without "standing on your head". 
  2. They are extremely accurate. They also have multiple bubbles for confirming accuracy. 
  3. Designed for horizontal & vertical shooting. 
  4. If your camera doesn't have a built-in spirit level and you do a lot of tripod work.
However, where this gadget is absolutely invaluable is that it gives you the ability to shoot at waist/stomach level. This is crucial at times in Travel Photography. During your travels you will visit places that don’t allow photography, in these instances, if you really want to take a shot then this gadget can help, here are some steps to consider before taking the shot;

  1. Make sure that your flash is turned off before entering a place where flash photography is not allowed. 
  2. Turn off the AF assist illuminator function in your camera, (the red or white beam which assists your camera to focus in low light) as this light is a real giveaway that you’re taking a photograph. 
  3. Attach the Spirit Level to your hot-shoe 
  4. Increase your ISO so that you can handhold the camera as tripods will obviously not be allowed either. Even though you will be taking photos from stomach/waist level still try to attain a shutter speed as though you were handholding the camera. 
  5. If your camera has a Quiet Mode available then use it. 
  6. Be discreet and don't get caught :-)
Unfortunately, we live in a photography world where the majority of people don't know how to turn off the flash on their camera. So many places like historic churches, museums, galleries etc will not let you take photos simply to protect their artwork from thousands of camera flashes every day. This is particularly the case in many cities in Europe where there are many churches and galleries with valuable art.

Now some may say that it is still being disrespectful by taking interior shots this way but we can assure you that the rules have been applied due to the overuse of camera flashes and the rule has been made to apply to everyone.

When not to use this method? Well you really shouldn't use this method if -

  1. If you plan to use the images commercially. 
  2. When the location you are shooting has a contract with a photographer. 
  3. During religious ceremonies where it would be disrespectful. 
  4. After being caught by an attendant it would be fairly rude to keep doing it. 
  5. Near military installations, government buildings, and other sensitive areas. Always research and be aware of the photography restrictions and regulations of the countries that you are visiting. Being thrown in prison is a sure way of ruining a holiday or a photography assignment.
If you want to purchase one click here

Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know where this item has been useful for you when shooting.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review - Joby UltraFit Sling Strap

As Travel Photographers we spend a lot of time on our feet and it is not unusual for us to walk up to 20kms a day and sometimes this can be every day for a couple of weeks. We used to use the conventional neck straps but this was causing a lot of neck strain. Sure, we could always wear the strap over our shoulder however this was not practical and quite awkward when wanting to take a shot. There was also the option of the Joby UltraFit Hand Strap however we find these impractical in Travel Photography as it is always good to have both hands free at all times.

HDR Software - Photomatix Pro

We have been using Photomatix Pro software by HDRSoft for quite a few years and although these days we now manually blend our bracketed images in Photoshop using Luminosity Blending we still use this software quite often. For those of you interested in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography then this software is a must for you. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with HDR photography it is simply capturing several images to cover the dynamic light range of a scene. It is usually best to shoot these when you are confronted with a high contrast scene for example a scene with a bright sky and foreground shadows. We shoot practically all our HDR's at -2,0,+2 (underexposed by 2stops, Normal, overexposed by 2stops). 

Check out the video below titled "Introducing Photomatix Pro 6". It only runs just over 3 minutes and will give you a general outline of how the software works. 

HDRSoft offer a 30 day trial of the software for you try out although any saved images will have a Photomatix watermark across the image. If you are interested in purchasing then visit HDRSoft and use the code "widescenes" to receive a 15% discount. The normal price is AUD$129.00.

If you have any questions about this software please drop us a comment.

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Friday, 10 April 2015

Sony A7r - First impressions

Sony A7r - Front View
Sony A7r - front
We have been shooting with Nikon cameras for over 20 years and must say they are awesome cameras that have provided us with some great shots over the years. We will more than likely stay with Nikon for the years to come as we have invested a lot of money in great lenses.

Since 1992 we have also photographed in the 6cm x 17cm panoramic format using a Fuji G617 Panoramic camera that produces pin-sharp images. Unfortunately with the age of digital, the cost of film/processing/scanning in combination with the increasing difficulty in transporting the film through international airports has diminished our use of the camera.