Why Starting a Photography Blog is Crucial for any Photographer

I strongly believe that any photographer, or any artist for that matter, will benefit from starting a blog. The era of photography websites are over as no one needs a static online presence. Every artist needs a fluid and evolving organism that can reflect his or her personality while simultaneously working to promote his or her talent.

Blogging evolved from online diaries into large self-publishing platform that can be customized and molded depending on one’s goals (i.e. self-promotion, sales, clients, etc.) or activities (i.e. travel photography, wedding photography, photography education).

Regardless if you are a professional photographer, an aspiring novice or an enthusiast with a big dream, blogging is the best tool to assist in growing as an artist as well as establishing and promoting your personal brand.

Here are the main reasons why, as an artist, you need a blog.

Blogging will help you get discovered

Photographers communicate through a visual medium – photography. However, visual language is not enough to market our talents in the online world. Even I strongly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words but somehow Google was not informed of this fact. The simple truth is that you need a thousand words in order for people to find your art online. [Read more...]

Red Rocks of the Desert (Nevada)

Today I cannot pinpoint the exact location where I took this photo but it was somewhere in the deserts of Nevada between the Valley of Fire and the Hoover Dam. After visiting the Valley of Fire for a short while, I decided against taking Interstate 15 to Las Vegas. Instead, I took Route 167 that runs along Lake Mead and the Colorado River all the way to the Hoover Dam.

It was my first drive through the deserts of Nevada and I was not quite sure what to expect. I did not have any specific plans on what to photograph since that was the “transitional” day of my trip to the Southwest (US).  The only plan for that day was to drive from Zion National Park to Las Vegas and get ready for the last leg of my trip to Los Angeles.

While driving along Lake Mead, the landscape was changing constantly and, somewhere in the middle of my drive, I found myself in a valley full of rocks with unusual shapes and colors.

I spent at least an hour next to the red rock featured in my photo, resting and reflecting on my trip. I realized that only 24 hours earlier I was driving through the snow storm at Bryce Canyon and now I was having a picnic in the unbearable heat of the desert.

Travel Photography Blog - Nevada. Northshore Road

Nevada. Northshore Road
Loc: 36.233199, -114.566386

[Read more...]

Point Lobos Sea Lion Point Trail (California)

Productivity and personal efficiency are very popular topics these days. The Pareto Principle is the cornerstone in achieving maximum efficiency in your everyday life. The Pareto Principle states that 20% of your efforts create 80% of the result. The goal is to identify those 20% and concentrate your activities around it.

If I apply the Pareto Principle to my coastal drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the Point Lobos would represent the 20% that was responsible for the 80% of the results. The day I visited Point Lobos was the first time I managed to fill both of my 32 GB memory cards in one day and I had to hike back to my car to copy photos from the SD cards to my laptop and, only then, continued hiking and shooting.

The day I spent at Point Lobos was by far the most rewarding and successful day of my photography career. The number of “keepers” I had that day is astonishing.

Travel Photography Blog - California. Point Lobos State Reserve. Sea Lion Point Trail

California. Point Lobos State Reserve. Sea Lion Point Trail
Loc: 36.518433, -121.952518


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 4 Bracketed Shots (-2; -1;  0; +1 ) [Read more...]

Inspirations: PATAGONIA – 34 Best of Travel and Landscape Photographs

Today’s theme for inspiration is PATAGONIA. I’ve been fantasizing about visiting Patagonia since I was a child while reading novels by Jules Verne and imagining myself having an adventure with the children of captain Grant. Now I have real opportunity to fulfill my childhood dreams by traveling to Patagonia as a photographer. These days Patagonia, Iceland and Norway are at the top of my personal list of locations to visit.



[Read more...]

Perfect Picnic Spot in Yosemite (California)

The advantage of visiting Yosemite in the beginning of May is that you can avoid high season crowds; however, the weather is quite unpredictable this time of year.

The weather was my main concern when I was planning my one-day trip to Yosemite from San Francisco. According to the research I performed, the road through the mountains can be completely closed due to the snow or you could be forced to use the chains on your car tires when passing the mountain crossings. Neither scenarios resonated well with me.

Luck was on our side on the day we went to Yosemite. The weather was unusually warm and sunny. It was 20-24oC in the valley with not too many people around.

I took featured photos while we were walking along the Merced River, trying to find the most beautiful and secluded spot for a mid-day picnic. When I saw the tiny sandy island in the middle of the stream, I knew right away it was exactly the spot we were looking for.

It was challenging to get there and the water was extremely cold but in the end it was totally worth it.

Travel Photography Blog - California. Yosemite National Park. Merced River

37.736900, -119.599979
Loc: https://goo.gl/maps/HTdW6


Deconstructing Featured Photo

Travel Photography Blog: 3 Bracketed Shots ( -1,  0, +1 ) [Read more...]

08. Before & After: Natural Looking HDR Photography with HDR Expose

A few months ago, I discovered and started using a new HDR tool that I later reviewed on my blog in an article entitled,  HDR Expose 3 – King of Natural Looking HDR. Many of my readers expressed interest in this tool and, as a result, I am releasing a step by step tutorial on how to achieve natural looking HDR images using HDR Expose.

If you want to follow along, please download the fully functional HDR Expose 3 30 day trial here and, in the event you decide to purchase the full version, please use the coupon code PHOTOTRACES at the checkout to receive 10% off.

Make sure you install it as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom and not as a standalone application.

You will learn following:

  • How to prepare (preprocess) bracketed images before merging them for HDR
  • How to use HDR Expose 3 plugin in Lightroom
  • How to align multiple images in HDR Expose 3
  • How to tone map bracketed photos for HDR
  • How to bring HDR image back to Lightroom
  • How to achieve the desired look in Lightroom and Photoshop

Below you can find my Before&After Widget which illustrates 11 editing steps of my workflow. By clicking through numbers (orange squares) you can see how image transforms from step 1 (original raw image) to step 11 (final published photo).

Before & After Widget

Also, I’ve included the source files with this post (original RAW files, layered Photoshop file (PSD), and Lightroom preset). You can download all files at the end of the post.


Step 1. Original Image

For today’s tutorial I selected photos I took in Montreal from the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the tallest bridge in the city. I originally took 5 bracketed shots but +2EV was too overexposed and soft. In my previous post I discussed the challenges of shooting multiple exposures from the bridge.

Below are 4 bracketed shots (-2, -1, 0, +1) I used to tone map HDR image.

[Read more...]

Inspirations: INDONESIA – 36 Best of Travel and Landscape Photographs

Today’s theme for inspiration is INDONESIA. Indonesia is the only third country I had featured in my inspirational series so far. The first country was Iceland and the second was Norway. I am planning to introduce more countries in the future and if you have a suggestion or recommendation on what country I should feature next, please let me know.

[Read more...]

Photography Tips (#01): My Favorite Way to Sharpen Photos in Photoshop

Today will start a new series of posts in which I’ll reveal my favorite tips, tricks and techniques related to travel photography and post processing. My goal is to provide you with easy and clear instructions on how to improve different aspects of your photography.

Today’s tip is about the fastest and the simplest way to sharpen photos in Photoshop. When I process my photos, I often use Topaz plugins (Topaz Detail and Topaz Clarity) ) to enhance details; however,  today’s  method does not require any additional plugins.

Every RAW image requires some degree of sharpening. When you shoot in JPEG mode, the camera performs the RAW to JPEG conversion automatically, applying different filters at the same time, including sharpening. This is the reason JPEG photos look sharper straight from the camera. When you shoot RAW you have much more control over the way you can process your photos but they always look softer than JPEG and, as a result, you need to apply sharpening during your post processing. [Read more...]

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Photo Which Changed My Life Ten Years Ago Today (New York)

For years, I’ve been using an online photography service called PictureLife. It collects all of my photos shuttered across the web (Flickr, Facebook, G+ …) and stores them in one location at PictureLife. It organizes them by date, and tries to recognize duplicates and hide them. Therefore, you enjoy access to all of your photos in one location with a beautiful interface. I do not use this service professionally, but for managing my family photos, PictureLife is priceless.

One of my favorite features of PictureLife is weekly email. The email always has the same title “Memories of …” as well as the day when the email was sent. PictureLife finds photos in your library which were taken on that particular day in various years and it sends them to you. You cannot imagine how many forgotten memories I have recovered through this weekly email.

Yesterday, I received the regular email with the title, “Memories of October 30″ and this was the photo found inside dated October 30, 2004. Exactly 10 years ago.

Travel Photography Blog - New York. Manhattan shot from Queens

New York. Manhattan shot from Queens
Loc: 40.731739, -73.925857

This is when I remembered that this was the very photo that triggered my interest in photography, and particularly, in travel photography.

I was in New York on a business trip. That was the time when I worked as a broadcast designer. The company I worked for at the time provided design and technical services to major TV networks for the upcoming 2004 US presidential elections. Half of our company’s employees spent 2 weeks in New York prior to the elections in various locations throughout New York.

That evening, I was driving with my colleague from Long Island to Manhattan and, somewhere in Queens, we saw this beautiful Manhattan skyline in the sunset light. I took this picture on the freeway from the moving car with my point-and-shoot Fuji camera. After spending hours in Photoshop trying to make it more presentable, I decided for myself that this is exactly what I want to do.

It took me more than a year to buy my first DSLR (Rebel) but that day and this photo served as main triggers.

I re-processed this photo using modern tools. The main issue was awful digital noise but even now it looks pretty bad.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Fuji FinePix S602
Lens:  point-and-shoot
Focal Length: 9.7mm
ISO: 320
Aperture: F3.6
Exposure time: 1/150 sec
Tripod: hand-held