Day 2 – Conquering Angels Landing in Zion National Park

This is series of blog posts where I recap my latest photography trip to American Southwest.

Angels Landing

My second day of the trip was entirely dedicated to an exploration of Zion National Park.

The highlight of the day was hiking all the way to the top of the famous Angels Landing trail.

I have visited Zion previously and I knew what to expect and I had all the facts about the trail.

Distance: 5-miles
Average Hiking Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous uphill hike.
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Trail Usage: Heavy

Since the average person does not hike with the tripod and does not stop every 100 meters to take photos, I estimated the average travel photographer hiking time to about 7-8 hours.

I also knew that late morning and early afternoon hours in Zion could be very crowded and in general I am not very found of people in my landscapes. Instead of unapologetically removing them from my reality in Photoshop I decided to beat the crowd and start the hike as early as possible.

I was on the very first park’s shuttle bus in the early morning and I started my hike in the very comfortable cool temperature with absolutely no people around.

Zion National Park. Conquering Angels Landing

Utah. Zion National Park. Angels Landing Trail
Loc: 37.265410, -112.950776

In the beginning, it was steep but very comfortable hike, with the amazing open views and plenty fo room to setup a tripod.

The last half mile the Angels Landing hike became a bit extreme. I had to pack my tripod and climb with the camera hanging around my neck. That was the moment when I really appreciated the switch from DSLR to mirrorless.

For some reason, the hiking down was less uncomfortable than going up.


Once again, after analyzing the scene I could see the very bright area of the sky and the deep shadows at the bottom of the canyon. To shoot for HDR was the obvious choice.

I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod.


I keep experimenting with Lightroom 6 new feature – HDR Merge. I like that Lightroom produces HDR file in DNG format which is relatively small. I also appreciate that Lightroom adds “HDR” to the name of newly created DNG file.

I merged 3 bracketed RAW images to HDR using Lightroom 6.

For the processing, I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using Point Lobos present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free lightroom presets here).


Deconstructing Featured Photo

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The Very Best Of Photography Articles and Tutorials – May 2015

In the beginning of 2015 I decided to change the format of my weekly newsletter. Instead of featuring only news from, I also started to feature the best photography related content I came across in the previous 7 days.

The change was triggered by the realization that quality content is not easy to find in an enormous amount of junk.

Below is the extract from my May 2015 weekly newsletters and it represents the best photography content according to me!

The Very Best Of Photography Articles and Tutorials - May 2015

Please subscribe to my newsletter and receive weekly email with the amazing photography, tutorials and inspirational articles from around the web.

The Very Best Of Photography Articles and Tutorials from Around the Web

Photographers chase Yosemite’s rare moonlight rainbows
On a clear night in Yosemite, only a few times each year, the full moon hits a misty spray of the highest waterfall in the park, creating a nighttime rainbow that is visible only through a camera lens.

The Joy of Arctic Surf Photography
Chris Burkard travels to remote, risky and often icy locations to capture stunning images that turn traditional surf photography on its head.

Photographer Causes Horrific Crash at Italy’s Largest Bicycle Race


Sony world photography awards 2015: the winners – in pictures
From Bolivia’s women wrestlers to grief wreaked by Ebola and the ghosts of Bangladeshi dead, here are the powerful and memorable images by the professional winners of the Sony world photography awards. [Read more…]

Photographer’s Guide to Writing an Effective Blog Post

We continue to expand the very popular section on PhotoTraces blog: Blogging Tips For Photographerswhere we address the topic on how blogging could help photographers to take their business to another level (Please check previously published: How to Start a Photography Blog in Under 10 Minutes and The Best WordPress Themes for Your Photography Blog).

Today, our guest writer Nancy Young is breaking down the process of creating an effective blog post for photographers.

Probably you have heard about blogging and that a photographer should have a blog. You have even seen a few successful photographers who blog. But why is blogging critically important for photographers? And more importantly, how to write epic blog posts worth your time efforts? In this article we’re going to discuss what topics to cover on your blog, why it’s so important for your business, and what services are the best to use. [Read more…]

Tutorial: How to Use PhotoTraces Free Lightroom Preset Collection

Since I released my Free Lightroom Preset Collection it has been, by far, the most popular resource on my blog. It was downloaded thousands of times and the feedback so far is very positive.

The readers of my blog who are familiar with Lightroom have no problems using my presets but, for the photographers who are just starting to learn the program, it is not always easy and straightforward. Every day I receive multiple questions about the installation and the usage of the presets.

I decided to address the most common questions and challenges by putting together a short tutorial that demonstrates the best practices on how to use my Lightroom Presets.

The goal of the Lightroom Presets Workflow is to streamline and simplify the process of photo editing and also to save time on processing a high volume of digital photographs. I hope my preset collection will help you accomplish just that.


If you have a problem installing the presets, I have a simple tutorial on how to install the Lightroom presets in just a couple of minutes. How to Install Lightroom Presets

Setting up the Lightroom

After you installed my Lightroom Presets and restarted Lightroom, you need to switch to the DEVELOP module of the Lightroom by selecting the DEVELOP option from the top menu.

When you are in the DEVELOP MODULE, on the left SIDE, select the PRESETS PANEL and open it.

Inside of the PRESETS PANEL you will find two new preset folders:

  • PhotoTraces FREE Collection
  • Photo Traces TOOLKIT

To start, open the Free Collection Folder.

For today’s demonstration, I selected three very different photographs:

  • the landscape photo I took in Hawaii (RAW format)
  • the urban shot of New York (JPG format)
  • the portrait of a young couple (JPG format)

By choosing such different photos, I want to demonstrate that you can use my Lightroom presets with pretty much all types of photographs and formats (JPEG, RAW, DNG, PNG). [Read more…]

The Path Down to the Bryce Canyon (Utah)

I have visited Bryce Canyon previously but due to the luck of time or poor weather conditions I’ve never had a chance to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon.

During my latest trip the luck finally was on my side; the weather was relatively favorable and I had the entire day to explore beautiful red rocks.

I took the featured photo during the descend to the bottom of the Bryce Canyon along the Navajo Loop Trail. The rain stopped 10-15min before I started the hike and the deep blue colors of the sky in the combination with the white clouds, created a perfect backdrop for the orange rocks in the foreground.

Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park. Navajo Loop Trail
Loc: 37.623335, -112.166019


When I analyzed the scene, just before start shooting, I could see that I would have to shoot for HDR. The foreground rock wall was much darker than the sky in the background. The light was too dynamic for the single shot.

I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod.


This is the first photo on my blog which was merged to HDR in Lightroom. As you may know, Adobe added to recently released Lightroom 6, new HDR Merge module. I am still experimenting with this new feature but so far I like what I see and I am planning to use it on a regular basis. ( You can find my review here: Adobe Lightroom 6 Review – New Features).

In Lightroom, I selected 3 bracketed photos and sent them to Photo Merge HDR.

Lightroom merged 3 bracketed photos and created new HDR image (DNG). [Read more…]

Honolulu Sunset Colors (Hawaii)

It was quite a rollercoaster day when I visited O’ahu (Hawaii) at the beginning of February.

In the morning, it was hot and humid in Honolulu but when I crossed the mountains and reached the eastern coast of O’ahu in early afternoon, it was pretty gloomy there with the low dark clouds and heavy tropical rain.

After driving and exploring the island for the remaining of the day, I went to Mountain Top Drive to photograph Honolulu at sunset hours.

First of all when I reached the top of the mountain, I had hard time opening the car door because of the strong and gusty wind. Also, it was freezing cold out there, by Hawaiian standards of course, and I had to put on every piece of the clothing I had in my car.

Shooting and Processing

The main challenge while shooting was to keep my tripod from flying away with the wind. I had to apply pressure with my body weight to keep it steady.

I shot 3 bracketed photos (-1, 0, +1) as I normally do, but I only used a single RAW image to process this photo. The main processing was done in Lightroom. I used the 2 Graduated Filters to darken the sky and emphasize sunset color in the top right.

For the processing, I used a Lightroom preset based workflow, using Natural present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free presets here).

Hawaii. O’ahu Island. Honolulu. Round Top Drive
Loc: 21.310518, -157.823919

Deconstructing Featured Photo

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Day 1- Packing Fast and Light (Look inside of my camera bag)

This is series of blog posts where I recap my latest photography trip to American Southwest.

Packing Fast and Light

My latest trip to the Southwest was a bit unusual. Normally, it takes me 2 weeks to plan such a long and complex voyage but this year I had only 8 hours.

My original intention was to leave for Nevada at the very end of May but due to some changes in my personal life I had to leave as soon as possible or postpone the trip until September.

Friday afternoon I booked a direct flight to Las Vegas for the following morning and spent the entire nights booking hotels and planning my route.

My favorite part of the preparation for the long trips is testing and packing my photo gear. First, I place every piece of the equipment on the floor, making sure I have everything in place and then I start packing.

Below is the photo of my photo gear is ready to be packed.

Camera: Sony a6000
Lens: Sony 10-18mm
Lens: Sony 16-70mm
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D
L Plate Bracket: Docooler® Universal MPU100 Quick Release
HD Filter: Hitech 10 Stops
Camera Bag: Manfrotto Unica I Messenger Bag
Remote Trigger: FotoTech IR Wireless Shutter Release
Memory Cards (3):  SanDisk Ultra 32GB

Batteries and Charger: NP-FW50 Kit For Sony Alpha
USB Charger: Poweradd™ 50W Charger
Laptop: Asus ASUS Vivobook 13-inch
Portable Cell Phone and Tablet Charger: Royal Power Burst 10000
External Hard Drive: WD My Passport 1TB
Tablet: Nexus 7
Mouse: Logitech Wireless Mini Mouse

I got “Rouged” Again by Air Canada

Rouge is Air Canada “discount” airline. It is probably the most hated carrier in Canada, famous for cramped seats, old planes and poor service. I try to avoid Air Canada Roge ant any cost but sometimes you just do not have another alternative.

My last year photography trip was ruined by Rouge. My original plan for 2014 trip was to land in Phoenix at 12 PM local time and drive to Sedona first with the goal to be at Grand Canyon couple hours before the sunset. Instead, I wasted 9 hours in Toronto waiting for the replacement plane and spent the night driving from Phoenix to Grand Canyon, missing Sedona, sunset and sunrise at Grand Canyon.

This year Rouge experience was less damaging but still it sidetracked my trip again.

This time Rouge flight was late by 4.5 hours. This probably is not a big deal if you go to Las Vegas to party but when your hotel is 4 hours away from the airport it makes a huge difference.

Long story short, instead of spending evening in the Valley of Fire photographing beautiful red rocks, I had to drive directly to my hotel in Kanab.

The only photos I have from my first day of the trip are the ones I took from the plane flying over the mountains and the canyons.





Intro – American Southwest Photography Trip Recap

This is series of blog posts where I recap my latest photography trip to American Southwest. I just returned from my latest photography trip. This time I went to one of my favorite destinations, the

I just returned from my latest photography trip. This time I went to one of my favorite destinations, the American Southwest.

It was a driving trip and I broke my personal record for distance covered in a single trip: I drove 4500 km (2700 miles) in 10 days.

My trip started in Las Vegas where I rented a car and I drove north to the city of Kanab in Utah where I spent 5 days photographing some of the most amazing destinations in Arizona and Utah. Then, I crossed the Nevada desert and drove to California’s coast, visiting Death Valley, Eastern Sierra, and Lake Tahoe along the way. My trip concluded in San Francisco Bay area where I spent a few day exploring the city and visiting Big Sur.

My initial intention was to write a short blog post with at least one photo at the end of each day of my trip to give readers of my blog the highlights of my travels. Very soon, I realized that my plan was not sustainable.

Every day of the trip, I woke up around 4am to be able to capture the morning light and on average I drove around 400km and 500km during the day, staying outside until sunset hours. By the time I was in my hotel, I was dead tired and I still had to backup new photos, charge camera batteries and plan my next day. I had absolutely no strength or time for blog updates.

I decided to share the experiences of my trip retrospectively. For the next 2 weeks, I will be featuring my Southwest adventures chronologically, day by day.

Lake Powell Wahweap Marina (Arizona)

Arizona. Page. Lake Powell
Loc: 36.956793, -111.488646


It was almost perfect shooting conditions on the day I took the featured photo. It was early evening and the light was already soft, but the thick white clouds made it even softer, acting as a huge natural diffuser. I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod.


The soft diffused light made processing of this photo easy and straightforward. I did not have to use HDR workflow because the light was not too dynamic and the single RAW processing was sufficient to recover the highlights and the shadows.

I used Lightroom Preset based workflow. I applied Natuarl preset from my Landscape Preset Collection and adjusted Exposure using ToolKit adjustments.

In the final step, I did some cleaning and color correction in Photoshop.

Deconstructing Featured Photo


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Adobe Lightroom 6 Review – New Features

Sometimes it feels like the good folks at Adobe can read my thoughts and feel my pain. Every time I start to experience difficulties with my photo processing workflow they tend to solve it in the next version of Lightroom.

Actually, my first encounter with Lightroom began in a similar way. It happened the year I started to take photography more seriously and I was shooting more and more. Over a period of 12 months I accumulated thousands of new images. On some occasions, I felt as if I was drowning in digital images. Photoshop was my main editing tool at the time and 100% of my processing was done there. But Photoshop was not designed to manage high volumes of photos.

[Read more…]

Flying Over Lachine Lighthouse (Montreal)

I was lucky with this shot. It was not my intention to place the flying plane into my composition, I had no idea It was there. That afternoon I was more concentrating on testing brand new lens (Canon 70-200mm) and did not pay much attention to my surroundings. But when I started to process the featured photo in Lightroom I noticed a lucky accident. It does not happen very often but sometimes it does.

Montreal. Lachine
Loc: 45.430394, -73.690344


I was shooting on a tripod entire afternoon, experimenting with the various focal lengths starting from 70mm and all the way to 200mm. I used a focal length of 118mm for this shot and since I had Canon 60D with cropped sensor, the actual value was about 177mm.


Even though I took 3 bracketed shots I knew that I only needed one because the setting sun was completely covered by clouds and the scene sdid not have dynamic highlights.

I used Lightroom Preset based workflow. I applied Electric preset from my Landscape Preset Collection and adjusted Exposure using ToolKit adjustments.

In the final step, I did some cleaning and color correction in Photoshop.

Deconstructing Featured Photo


[Read more…]