Tips and tricks to better landscape photography.

As a professional wedding photographer at St. Augustine, one of my favorite questions to answer is "what is your hobby" because they would never expect that it is in fact - photography. 

When you earn a living behind a camera people often assume you want to get away from it during your downtime, but I couldn't imagine a day without creating something and my camera is my favorite tool.

Over the last few years I have really gotten serious with my landscape photography - and I want to share some of the things that I wish someone had reminded me of when I was first starting out.

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  • Scouting. Rarely is it that I will happen upon a picturesque location. I like explore locations in person so that I can look into unique angles, observe where the sun will rise and set and checking for other things that will impact the scenery (like tide charts). One of my little secrets is the Sun Trajectory app to see exactly where the sun will be and when it will be there.
  • Set your alarm. Most of the time I am getting up an hour or two before the sun to reach my destination and be setup when the lighting is right. The point here is epic light won't wait for you, get there early and stay late.
  • Use a Tripod. To get the sharpest images possible I usually stop my aperture down to f/11 or f/16 which can push my shutter speed into the seconds, having a steady tripod makes it possible to capture longer exposures without sacrificing sharpness. It also gives you a very accurate way to adjust your composition if you are shooting in the dark, and it also doubles as a weapon if you are shooting in a sketchy part of the world. 
  • Shutter release cable. Not only does this allow you to trigger your camera without physically touching the shutter (which can cause slight movement on the camera) it will also let you keep your camera shutter open for longer than the internal shutter limit (usually 30 seconds). 
  • Lee filters. Another tool in my bag is a set of Lee Filters use to reduce the amount of light coming into my camera allowing me to use smaller apertures and slow down the shutter. My favorite is the Lee Big Stopper which reduces the amount of light coming into your camera by 10 stops.
  • Lens hood. I always use a lens hood for landscape photography! This helps keep unwanted light from reflecting off of your lens but also protects your glass from getting wet if you are working in soggy conditions.
  • Color correction. A questions I get asked often is "how do you fix the colors in your landscape photos?". I have read a lot of books on color - what it means, how to adjust it, how to mix it. For me, the natural color of a landscape is usually best, I try to stay out of a naturals scenes way and let that natural color show.
  • Mix it up. I have friends that don't go to the same location... the more times you visit the same location the more creative you get to be. You get to mix it up and play with different weather patterns or lighting. Give yourself time to play outside of the lines, go back to a spot that you like, make it a spot that you love.


What camera should I buy for Portrait Photography

I can't count how many times I get asked "what kind of camera should I buy?" and "which camera is more suitable for portrait photography?" I have been working as a portrait Photographer in St. Augustine for a long time so I thought to share the secrets of cameras with you.

I am going to keep this post as simple as possible by talking about what I have learned on my journey as a photographer and making highly opinionated suggestions based on that journey. 

Avoid common mistakes. 
My first consumer grade DSLR was a Nikon D60. Of all of the Nikon bodies out there, it was the worst one I could have gotten for what I wanted to do. A ton of lenses don't focus on the D60 (it had no internal focus motor) and I think it has 3 focus points which can be tough for people without manual focusing experience. I furthered my mistake buying lenses that were priced right instead of built right. Instead of reading reviews on the internet, I should have looked at photos the camera had taken. Sites like flickr or 500px are perfect for letting you search for images created with a certain camera and lens combination. If you like the images a camera (and lens) take, at least you will know what the gear is capable of... it is a great place to start.

I want to buy a camera on a budget. 

< $50.
I would suggest that you get a fun Fuji Instax. It is a wide format, instant film camera that is perfect for people who want maximum bang for their buck. I have one of these and I love the photos it takes (and so does everyone else). You just aim, snap and pvvvvvvvt the film pops out the top. 

< $100
Your only realistic option is a used iphone. There are countless apps that let you process your photos in creative ways... I was in Mexico a couple of years ago and documented the whole trip with my iphone. It was inexpensive, automatically backed up my photos online and it fit in my pocket. I would suggest purchasing the waterproof case as well.

< $250
Fuji's XF1 is a fantastic point and shoot camera. It has a nice sensor(the 2/3-Inch 12MP EXR), works well in low light and is perfect for the photographer looking for an easy camera to carry around with them. There isn't a better camera for less than $250.


< $500
This is a tough price point. A lot of people looking to spend about $500 US either get a beefed up point and shoot camera or low end DSLR. A lot of mediocre DSLR cameras fall into this range but unless you are going to shoot just portraits at f/8 then you will quickly become frustrated with it. My advice would be to find a used Fuji X100. I have seen these on Craigslist going for less than $400. It is an amazing camera with a fixed 35mm lens. It is great for portraits, landscapes and just about everything in between. You can read one of my favorite reviews about the camera here. If you are nervous about buying something used or just can't find what you are looking for then my next suggestion would be a Lumix DMC-LX7K

If I was buying a camera today, what would I buy?

If I was shopping for a camera today I would buy a Fuji X-T1. At just $1,300 USD for the mirrorless body it is the best value to performance camera I have ever seen. It looks good, takes professional quality photos and is so easy to use... I have been asking my wife for one of these cameras for 3 years now. I would pair this body with a 27mm lens. For less than $2,000 you have a professional quality system that would make ME jealous. 

To save a few bucks you could always track down a used copy of this lens on ebay, Craigslist or the local pawnshop and save %30 or more.

Do you buy cameras used?

Yes I do. I recently bought a new camera body and by using a private seller was able to save %30 on a camera that was less than a month old and only used a couple of times (still under warranty!). Money you save on cameras and lenses can be spent on lights and plane tickets. 

I know that this post won't answer everyone's questions but it is a start. You can always email me if you have specific questions, I love talking about this stuff and welcome debate. 

Little bear, taken with my Nikon D800.

Playa de Carmen Mexico, taken with my 1st gen iphone.

Self portrait taken with my Fuji x100.

Taken with my Nikon D700.