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iPad Pro Plotagraph DEMO – Animate Your Photos

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A Truly Magical App…

I love finding new apps to play around with when it comes to photography, and Plotagraph is one those apps that really sets itself apart from others. It’s hard to explain what the app does in a blog post so I have attached a video where I demo the photography voodoo that takes place when you go through the process of “animating” your photos.

For some, this app is going to be seen as an “art destroyer” or only for photography “noobs” that don’t know how to process their photos. PLEASE never let those types of photographers and artists bring you down. REAL art is all about having fun, trying new things, taking risks, and not being judgmental about anything until you give it a proper try! By giving movement and animation to certain photos, the Plotagraph app actually encompasses what a photo actually is when it’s stored in our memory. A photo is nothing more than a moment-in-time that we thought was worthy of capturing, and when we reminisce on those moments that we captured, we remember the motion and life that surrounded each of those special moments. Memories are never still images…

You can see the demo video I made below where I give you a quick example of how to use this app, and I highly recommend that you give it a try on your photos! It’s super fun and super easy to use!


NEW COURSE! Landscape Photography Post Processing & HDR Blending Video Tutorial

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**Discounted price EXTENDED TO 09/25/17**

 

It’s finally here! I have been promising a tutorial like this to my subscribers for quite a long time, and It feels fantastic to make this a reality! Thank you all for your support the past few months while I have been producing this!

This in-depth tutorial covers my post processing workflow, different levels and methods of exposure blending, the benefits of luminosity masks, texture and contrast enhancement, selective dodging and burning, how to individualize color, using restricted luminosity masks for sharpening and noise reduction, etc, etc.

Surprisingly, this my very first video series on landscape photography post processing, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally release it! I have been carefully compiling all of the techniques I wanted to teach, building the lesson plan, choosing the photos, filming, re-filming, and producing this tutorial for almost four months! Today, all of you finally get to see it, and I am more than humbled by all of the requests I have received to produce something like this! It’s because of  YOU that this now a reality!

Not only do I show you how to use all of the tools in my post processing workflow, but I also stop along the way to explain WHY I make the creative decisions that lead to the end result of each photograph.


Common Questions…

What software do I need?  The only software you really “need” is Photoshop(not elements)and the Nik Collection. The Nik Collection plugins are completely FREE now, and you can easily follow along with me while I use Lightroom and On1 RAW by simply downloading their FREE trials. Click HERE for a Lightroom free trial, and click HERE for a free trial of ON1 RAW.

Do I have to be a photography wizard to take this course?  You definitely do not have to be an expert to take this course. However, I would recommend that you have basic knowledge of processing RAW files since you will learn many advanced techniques, but I slowly walk you through each step that I take. Also, I spread the techniques over 10 hours of video lessons so that I don’t overload you with information in Lesson #1.

Do I need advanced Photoshop knowledge?  Again, I would recommend that you have a basic knowledge, but I walk you through the tools that you need to know in order to follow along with me in this course.

What happens if I have a question or don’t understand a certain part of this video course?  No worries at all! I have a created a private FaceBook support group just for people who purchase this tutorial. As long as you have questions that pertain directly to the content in this video tutorial, I will be more than happy to answer your questions and help you overcome any possible confusion. I will have a few other photographers helping me manage this Facebook support group so that we can answer all questions in a timely manner. This group will also become a very fun community as more people join, and we can always continue learning from each other’s creative vision. 

Am I allowed to use or share the PSD or Image files included in this course?  Publicly sharing and/or monetizing from any of the original content included in this course is not permitted. All of the original content included in this course is Copyright © Eric Marks and Finding Middle Earth, LLC. The original content that I include is for educational purposes only. However, I am very curious and excited to see how all of you decide to process my photos, so sharing your versions of my photos is only allowed within the private FaceBook support group that I have created for this course. You will gain access to that FaceBook group once you purchase The Landscape Photography Post Processing & HDR Blending Video Tutorial.

How much is this going to cost me?  Creating a price for this tutorial was one of the hardest aspects of this entire experience. It’s easy sometimes for creators to overcharge for digital products because we know how much it consumed our life for months at a time. I preach so much on my YouTube channel about being smart with your money when investing in yourself or new gear, so I wanted to make this affordable! The price for the first 15 days is going to be only $69.00 USD, and after the first 15 days are up, it will reset to it’s regular price of $99.00. If you’re part of my FME newsletter, you will get surprise discount codes all throughout the year. Want to join? Just head to the top right of this page, and click the “SUBSCRIBE” button. UPDATE: I have decided to extend the promo pricing of $69 until 09/25/17. Enjoy!


A Few Photo Examples…

Here are a few of the photos that we will be working on together.

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After


Video Content…

  1. introduction to workflow and getting the most out of one single RAW file
  2. Auto HDR blending and using gradient masks to add directional lighting effects
  3. Enhancing texture and selective dodging and burning
  4. Choosing the best portion of three brackets to piece together the your creative vision
  5. Basic luminosity masks and the benefits of color separation
  6. Using individual RGB channels to enhance color and learning new methods for sharpening and noise reduction
  7. Advanced exposure blending and processing with 7 bracketed photos
  8. Gain ultimate control by using luminosity masks to selectively dodge and burn, add color, blend exposures, sharpen, reduce noise, and completely separate the foreground from the background. 

Learn How To Unleash The Power Of Your RAW Files With The Landscape Photography Post Processing & HDR Blending Course. Includes Over 10 Hours Of Video Lessons!


Picktorial 3 – NEW Fujifilm X Pack Film Presets!

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Photography NEWS! A Happy Day For Fuji Users…

Picktorial just released a new set of camera profiles called The Picktorial X-Pack of film simulations for Picktorial 3. It has film presets galore, and it supports Fuji RAF files. They sent me a copy of the X-Pack to test out a few days ago, and they are a lot of fun to play around with on all different kinds of photos. In my opinion, the X -Pack set of film simulations is the perfect “one-stop-shop” for photographers that want to get quick content published on social media. Checkout the official Picktorial X-Pack Release Page HERE if you want to learn more and purchase the X-Pack. Also, if you don’t own Picktorial already, they gave me a crazy discount for all of YOU that will get you 45% off of the Picktorial/X-Pack bundle. CLICK HERE to receive the discount.

A lot of people prefer a very minimalist editing workflow when it comes to getting quick content published for social media, and I think that the X-Pack film simulations are going to be fantastic for that type of workflow. All Fuji users will love that another RAW processing software now offers Fuji-specific film simulations for RAF files, especially since Picktorial seems to render Fuji RAF files just as good as ON1 and Capture ONE.

Scout’s Honor…

Now, you all know that I am an honest reviewer and don’t let companies buy my endorsement. I was not paid to use Picktorial software or to write this review about the X-Pack, but they did give me a free copy in order for me to let all of  YOU know how I like it. So, I love that Picktorial is innovating and pushing themselves to be bigger and better, and I can say with 100% honesty that the X-Pack films simulations work perfectly. How often would I use them? A lot of you know that I mainly use RAW processors for 10% of my photo and then spend an hour or so in Photoshop working on the other 90%. Here’s what I will say about me using the X-Pack: I take a lot of behind the scenes photos of me in the field, photo gear that I am reviewing, quick documentary stuff for location referencing, etc. Those are the photos I will be using the X-Pack for because I typically don’t devote a lot of time to post processing behind the scenes/blog photos. The X-Pack in my opinion is a perfect representation of the film presets from Fuji that we have all come to love, so why wouldn’t I just want to click one button inside of Picktorial to give me that look? 

Please keep in mind that I am just being honest and letting you know what I will be using the X-Pack for. YOU can use it however you like and in any situation you like. Making our own creative decisions is what makes us all unique artists in our own special way. However, let’s go ahead and get past the question that I know will come up the most…”Eric, since you said you’re only using the X-Pack for behind the scenes photos and social media stuff, does that mean you think that the film simulations aren’t good enough for professional editing or printing?” Like I said, I think the X-Pack is a perfect representation of the film simulations by Fujifilm, and if the “film look” is what you want, the X-Pack will surely deliver for print, social media, landscapes, wedding photography edits, and any other type of photography you want. You can see my super quick demo video and photo examples below…

Picktorial Standard Profile:Picktorial X-Pack Velvia/VIVID:Picktorial X-Pack ACROS:

My Thoughts On Picktorial As A Company…

If you follow my YouTube channel, you know that I am always on the lookout for good RAW processing software options. I gave Picktorial 3 quite a good review when it first launched a few months ago, and I have been watching the company ever since then to see how they were going to innovate and compete with the other giants in the market.

Well, Picktorial have been doing things right in my opinion. I get approached by a lot of companies every week asking me to try their products, but I only say “yes” to the companies that I really believe have a solid vision that will better the photography industry. I can tell you from having a direct connection inside of Picktorial that they love hearing from their customers. They realize that Picktorial isn’t just a group of software engineers or a corporate team. Picktorial is the customers and photography community that give Picktorial a purpose to exist. All I can say is that it’s rare to find that mentality these days, and those are the only kinds of companies that I agree to work with for reviews and collaborations.


 

Two Underrated Fujifilm Lenses – Download The RAW Files

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Does Fujifilm even Make A “bad” Lens?

If you’ve been in or around the photography industry, you KNOW that glass is always more important than camera bodies. When the time comes to choose what camera brand you want, researching that brand’s lens lineup is very important. I did that before I chose to shoot with Fujifilm X bodies, and I had to look over the entire internet to find a blog or forum that had negative things to say about Fuji lenses.

It’s simple, Fujifilm has a killer lens lineup, and the value for your money is wonderful. As with any camera company, there are certain pieces of gear that are underrated or not as appreciated as they should be. I’m sure everyone has a different opinion on what those underrated pieces of gear might be, but I want to specifically talk about two Fuji lenses that are often overlooked and underrated.

You can watch my video below to hear my full opinion on these lenses, but it seems that quite a few people overlook the 18-55 f/2.8-4 OIS Kit Lens and the 55-200 f/2.5-4.8 OIS telephoto. Typically, the alternative choices to those lenses are the 16-55 f/2.8 and the 50-140 f/2.8. Let’s just go ahead and get something out of the way, the 16-55 and the 50-140 are absolutely fantastic lenses, but they cost more money, take up more room in your bag, and weigh quite a bit more than the 18-55 and 55-200 lenses. The question is, are those lenses worth the extra money to YOU? It really comes down to knowing what you need out of your lenses for your genre of photography. the point I am trying to make is that going with the 18-55 and 55-200 is not a “bad” alternative. It’s simply a different alternative that might work better for your style of shooting. In the end, all four of these lenses will give you fantastic images!

Don’t Just Take My Word For It…

In order for this blog post to provide true value for you, I’m allowing you to download a few of my Fuji X-T2 RAW files from the 18-55 and 55-200 so you can check the out-of-camera quality when paired with the X-T2. Do as much testing and pixel peeping as you want! Just click the button below to get access to the RAW files.


 

Exploring The Gulf Coast With The Fujifilm X-T2

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A Day Of Landscape Photography…

While I was on holiday with my family near Rosemary Beach, Florida, my dad and I took a day to explore the coast in search of great seafood and photography. We found both!

The best tips I can give you for shooting in the mid-day sun is to look for high-contrast scenes where the natural shadows make interesting compositions, and you will also want to take a really powerful ND filter to add interest to water and clouds. You will notice in the VLOG and photos below that I used the high-contrast light AND a 9 stop ND filter for almost every photo I captured. Always take advantage of the creative tools in your camera bag, and if you don’t own filter already, feel free to watch my video where I tell you all about my favorite filters for landscape photography. Also, the filter company even gave me a discount code that allows my viewers to get 10% OFF of all of their products. All of the info is in the video.

Take Care Of Your Gear…

In closing, make sure you really think about which bag you’re using in the field when you’re around a ton of sand and salt water like I was. Sand and salt water can ruin gear so fast! I highly recommend two bags for these situations, and you can watch my video reviews of them HERE: MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Pro Backpack Review | LowePro Whistler 450 AW Backpack Review

Below, you can see the photos and VLOG from my day of landscape photography on the gulf coast...

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer And 9 Stop ND Filter

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer And 9 Stop ND Filter

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer And 9 Stop ND Filter

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Polarizer Only

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 | Exposure Blend


 

 

NEW ON1 Photo RAW 2017.5 Update And Better Fujifilm RAW Support

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ON1 Photo RAW 2017.5

If you want to get 20% off the new ON1 Photo RAW, use discount code: FMEON1

ON1 has been doing great things for photographers with the release of ON1 Photo, and They have quickly been adding features and fixing bugs along the way. They truly listen to their photographers and have delivered some really great features with the 2017.5 update that was launched this morning!

Details Pane

When you opened a RAW file in the “develop” module before today, you would have access to the “tone and color” pane where you would tweak your exposure, contrast, and color. With the new update, we now have default access to the new “details” and “lens correction” panes.

The new details pane offers sharpening and noise reduction options, and they both seem to work really well, especially on Fujifilm RAW files. If you’re a Fujifilm user like me, you know how hard it is to find a RAW processor that renders and sharpens Fujifilm RAW files correctly. As of today, ON1 Photo 2017.5 easily has the best sharpening for X-Trans files in my personal opinion! I did testing on many different X-T2 files, and I was very impressed with the subtle but very effective ON1 algorithm. You can watch my video below to get an idea of just how good the sharpening really is.

Lens Correction Pane

I know it’s hard to get excited about lens corrections, but this feature did not exist at all in the previous version. A lot of Lightroom users I have talked to were “on the fence” about ON1 due to the lack of lens correction, so this should put their minds at ease. It operates just like the lens correction panels you’ve always known in other software, and it works great in combination with the “transform” tool. You can see an of this feature in my video below.

Compare Mode

This new feature is very useful and will absolutely be loved by wedding and event photographers! While you’re in the “browse” module, you can mass select a sequence of photos and enter “compare mode” to easily use the process of elimination to choose the best shot from the sequence. There are some really cool and intuitive features that make “compare mode” really nice and easy to use. You can see an example in my video below.

Other Honorable Mentions

STACKING PRESETS: In the effects module, you can now stack multiple presets on top of each other and use masks to pick and choose the best of each preset. Once you apply a preset to your image, you can hold the alt/option key to view the thumbnails of other presets with a preview of how they will look once they are stacked. I will make a video example of this soon on my FME YouTube Channel.

CLONE STAMP TOOL: The clone stamp retouching tool from the “Layers” module, is now inside of the “Develop” and “Effects” modules as part of the non-destructive workflow. There isn’t much else to say about this feature since most of you are familiar with clone stamping, but it’s definitely nice that we don’t have to enter the “Layers” module anymore just to clone out distractions in our photos.

LIGHTROOM MIGRATION ASSISTANT: This is a very cool and easy feature for people coming from years of Lightroom editing and cataloging. When in Lightroom, you simply visit the “File” dropdown selection, scroll to “plugin extras”, and select the “Migrate Catalog To ON1 Photo” option. It’s more or less a two-step-process to migrate from LR to On1 Photo 2017.5. All of your folders from LR will be accessible under the “Indexed Folders” tab in ON1, and your collections from LR will be accessible under the “Albums” tab in ON1. As for the edits and metadata, ON1 will create a separate sidecar file for each image for a super smooth migration. I specifically tested this feature to see how it would work in practice, and everything came over as expected. Obviously, the more folder and photos you have, the longer the migration will take. Go watch a Lord Of The Rings movie, and everything should be migrated and indexed when you’re done. Its a win-win situation 🙂

Conclusion

Is ON1 Photo 2017.5 perfect??? Of course not! It’s a new update and there will always be a few bug fixes and extra features that need to be added, but the fantastic news is that ON1 is one of those companies that really listens to their customers. With that said, thank you so much for reading, and please let me know if you have any questions!


 

Fuji X-T2 RAW Files – Lightroom Vs On1 Photo RAW Vs Capture One Pro

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RAW Processor Showdown!

It’s no secret that the three biggest RAW processors right now are Lightroom CC, On1 Photo RAW, and Capture One Pro. As with anything, each processor has it’s pros and cons, but the big deciding point for me lately has been how these processors handle Fujifilm RAW files.

In my video below, I give you a detailed comparison on how each software interprets color, detail, contrast, and auto lens corrections from a Fujifilm X-T2 RAW file. The results are very interesting as you will see, but I can tell you now that On1 Photo RAW is really impressing me for being the “new kid on the block” of RAW processors.

I got a phone call from one of the corporate guys at On1 after they saw a few of my videos, and it was so refreshing to chat with a company that loves taking feedback directly from their customers. I made a few videos when On1 Photo RAW was first released where I discussed some issues that I was having, and within about 4 weeks, all of the issues were fixed in a free update along an email from their marketing manager who thanked me personally for the feedback in my videos. THAT is the kind of company photographers should support! 

In fact they even gave me a 20% off coupon code to give to all of my viewers that want to purchase On1 Photo RAW. Just use coupon code FMEON1, and you will get 20% off of your order at their online store. Hope that helps all of my awesome followers! 🙂

Enjoy the video!

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This FREE video explores what's in Eric's Camera bags, accessories outside of the bags, and Eric's favorite lenses for landscape photography.


 

I’m In Panama City Beach For The Next Week!

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The Land Of Vibrant Sunsets…

My family and I always spend about 8-10 days out of every year in Panama City Beach, Florida. The gulf coast has amazing seafood, white sand, clear water, and magical sunsets! Need I even say more? We just arrived a couple of hours ago, and I’m already craving fresh seafood!

We always like to stay in a large high-rise with a corner unit, so I can photograph the sunset from the balcony without any buildings standing in between me and sunset. Yes, my wife specifically looks for corner units so I can take better photos. I’m a lucky man :-). Speaking of that, if you guys or gals ever need to book a fun-filled Disney vacation, my wife will handle everything for you for free! She is a Disney travel agent, and I can promise you that there is no one in this world that knows more about booking Disney trips than her. She has been doing this for 9 years, and You can check out her page HERE.

Anyway, it’s going to be an extremely fun week, and I can’t wait to spend time with my family, eat tons of seafood, and take some awesome photos! Of course, I have already put the X-T2 to work on tonight’s sunset, and you can see that photo below. If any of you live here,  shoot me an email and maybe we can do a photowalk one day.

Let’s just hope the “wave incident” from last year doesn’t happen again! I’ll put that video below so you can see me and my D810 dripping with water…

Fujifilm X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8 XF WR

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This FREE video explores what's in Eric's Camera bags, accessories outside of the bags, and Eric's favorite lenses for landscape photography.

Tilley Hiker’s Hat Review – Landscape Photographer’s Best Friend

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The Best Hiking Hat You Will Ever Own…

I have been looking for the perfect outdoor hat for a long time, and I finally found the perfect one. The Tilley Hiker’s Hat provides great protection from the sun, it has a lifetime warranty, and it is so comfortable that I could sleep in it. 

I have spent the past year trying different outdoor hats from tons of different brands, and I can tell you after extensive research, Tilley’s customer service and product quality is second to none. Oh, and it helps that the Hiker’s Hat will make you look like Indiana Jones 😉

Watch my video review below to learn more about the Tilley Hiker’s Hat and where to buy one.


 

On1 Photo RAW 2017 For Fuji X-T2 RAW Files?

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Search For The Best RAW Processor…

It’s no secret that Fujifilm shooters are always on the search for one RAW processor to the rule them all. The most popular options right now seem to be Iridient Developer for Lightroom CC and Capture One Pro. I personally use a mixture of Lightroom and Capture One Pro. I tend to choose Capture One Pro when I am processing photos that have really warm or red tones in them. Capture One just seems to make the colors really pop right from the RAW file.

For quite a while, On1 has been producing some great plugins and one of my favorite applications for prepping images for print. As of late, they have joined the RAW processor universe with their newest software, On1 Photo RAW 2017. When it first came out a few months ago, I made a “battle video” where I processed an image and directly compared the results between Lightroom and On1 Photo RAW. 

I will post the video below, but I basically found a few quirks with On1 that I couldn’t live with as my main RAW processor. However, I didn’t beat them up too bad over the quirks because every new software takes a few updates before it starts really grabbing your attention away from the main contenders in the industry. On1 Photo RAW still has a beautiful interface and has the best module in the industry for resizing your files for print.

If you subscribe to the On1 newsletter, i’m you have noticed that they have been releasing tons updates and bug fixes for Photo RAW. I dowloaded all of the updates and processed another Fuji X-T2 RAW file and was very pleasantly surprised to see how far they have came in just a couple of months. I will post that video as well so you can compare my results from a few months ago to current. 

PS: Keep an eye on the RAW processor, Picktorial 3. It is also a great option and will get better and better with future updates. Picktorial is one of the few RAW processors that has almost no learning curve, and it has one of the most beautiful interfaces I have seen on a RAW processor. Check out my two On1 Photo RAW videos below…

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This FREE video explores what's in Eric's Camera bags, accessories outside of the bags, and Eric's favorite lenses for landscape photography.

First Video Using On1

Second Video Using On1


 

NEW Quadcopter Photo – Flying Above Carter’s Lake

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Carter’s Lake In Autumn

Carter’s Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever visited. The color of the water is such a nice tone of blue, and the entire lake is surrounded by huge mountains and chiseled rock walls.

This particular day was below freezing outside with a very uncomfortable breeze cutting through my winter clothes like a knife. Even though the lake was so beautiful, there was almost no interesting photo opportunities from the ground. I decided to take the quadcopter up to get my bearings, and that is when I saw this composition with the huge rock wall, autumn colors, golden light, and distant mountains. 

This photo was captured with a DJI Phantom 3 Professional with bracketed exposures.


 

New Quadcopter Photo – Dead Wilderness

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Quadcopter Photography Is Too Much Fun…

Ever since I bought my DJI quadcopter a year ago, I have really been loving aerial photography! Sure, it’s not a 36 megapixel full frame sensor with amazing image quality, but resolution is the last thing on my mind when I’m flying! It keeps me super creative! Why does it make me more creative? Well, it’s probably because flying or driving remote control vehicles brings out the “inner kid” in all of us, and kids have creative imaginations with no boundaries! It’s my personal belief that we always have the opportunity to be more creative when we’re having fun!

It’s quite an awesome feeling to be operating a camera that can fly half a mile away from you and capture crazy new perspectives of locations that have been photographed a million times from the ground. I have been taking photos in this forest for years, so I knew I had to see what it looked like from the sky! It can be quite challenging to come up with an interesting photo when doing aerial photography, but you will always find something cool when you follow the photographer’s code: Always… Follow… The… Light…

This photo was captured with a DJI Phantom 3 Professional and bracketed exposures.


 

How To Prep Your Photos For Printing – Fuji X-T2 20×30 Print

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My Prepping Workflow…

Printing my work is one of my absolute favorite ways to showcase my photographs. There is just something special about seeing my work as a physical object that I can hang in my office. I appreciate it in a different way, and I really hope this blog post inspires all of you to start printing more as well.

Before you watch my step-by-step video, please know that everyone has a slightly different workflow of prepping their photos for print, so everything I am showing you is what works really great for me. If you would like to tweak my process or remove/add a step, feel free to create your own way that works well for you.

The biggest issue that people have when sending their digital files off for print is receiving a print that looks completely different from the digital file that it was printed from. For example, the vibrant and contrasty colors on a digital sunset photo may look awesome on a computer display, but they could be completely flat and lifeless on print.

Our computer displays need to be properly color calibrated to make sure that our computers and printers are reading the same color profile. There are quite a few ways you can improve your post processing experience in order for proper color, contrast, and sharpness to give your prints that extra “pop” that will make the sell. Check out my videos below…

Step-By-Step Video For Print Prepping…

The Prepped Digital Image…

The Final Result – Fuji X-T2 20×30 Print…

Don’t Awaken The Darkness

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Weekend Trip To The Mountains…

We spent the weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains at a beautiful cabin right at the top. The cabin had an amazing wrap around porch with a great overlook, so it wasn’t hard to find a location to continue testing out the Fuji X-T2. Here is a short video I made that gives you a quick tour of the cabin…

NEW PHOTO – “Don’t Awaken The Darkness”

We arrived at the cabin about an hour before sunset, and that is when I noticed that the porch and overlook were at the perfect position for a sunset photo. As time went by, the sky set fire to some of the most vibrant red tones I have ever seen, and the sensor of the X-T2 rendered the reds brilliantly!


 

Fujifilm X-T2 Full Review – One Camera To Rule Them All?

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The Opening…

I have been a Nikon DSLR shooter since day one, and as a landscape and nature photographer, I have always been pleased with the image quality and dynamic range of the Nikon system.

For the last three years, I have been testing almost every mirrorless camera on the market to see what all of the fuss was about. So many photographers talked about how mirrorless was completely replacing their DSLR systems, so I knew that I had to use them as my primary camera to see if I could truly live without my DSLR kit. 

After tons of testing with different mirrorless camera brands, I came to the conclusion that these new cameras were nowhere near ready to replace my Nikon DSLR system, but they were definitely fun to use. The longest I was able to use a mirrorless camera without touching my DSLR was about two weeks.

Let’s fast forward to December of 2016… I bought my First Fujifilm mirrorless camera, and my world changed instantly…

Love At First Sight…

after months of research on the Fuji “X” line of cameras, I decided to purchase the Fujifilm X-T2 in December of 2016. You’re probably asking yourself why I never tried Fujifilm cameras in the past, since I stated above that I have tried tons of mirrorless cameras over the years. Well, I wish I had a great answer for you, but the 16 megapixel APS-C sensors that Fujifilm had just never caught my attention. HA, that was stupid of me…

All I can say is that from the moment I touched the X-T2, I instantly fell in love. It could have been a 10 megapixel camera, and I would not have cared one bit. This camera simply makes me want to take more photographs. Every single time I pick it up, I just want to get out, take photos, and make art. Isn’t that what all cameras are supposed to make me feel like?? If you own one of these magical Fujifilm X cameras, you know what I mean. 

Here is the video where I unboxed this camera and held it for the first time…

THE REVIEW…

Ok, so let’s get into the good stuff that will help you decide if this is the camera for you or not. I will be covering build quality, the firmware and menus, autofocus, dynamic range, ISO, EVF, ergonomics, and I will end with the main features that I liked and disliked about the camera.

Build Quality

The X-T2 has a very rigid build, and I found that after just a few days of using it in the field, I was almost as confident in it’s physical reliability as I am with my Nikon D810. 

Flip out screens always worry me since most of them feel like they could snap off at any second. Somehow, even the flip out screen on the XT2 feels very strong and secure. I put my cameras through serious use in the elements, so the fact that this tiny mirrorless camera is still working like new should tell most people that it can take a serious beating.

Oddly enough, The only thing about the X-T2 that seemed a little “flimsy” was the exposure compensation dial. If you put even the slightest bit of pressure on the dial, it will physically move forwards and backwards like it’s about to snap off the camera body. That being said, I am sure that it’s built just as well as the rest of the camera, but that is the only physical part of the camera that just didn’t feel as rigid and strong as the rest.

Firmware And Menu System

One of the biggest reasons that Fujifilm has such a loyal fan base is because of the way they handle their firmware. Instead of releasing a new camera with simple upgrades every 6 months like other big brands, they release FREE firmware updates that fix and/or upgrade the features of their current cameras. For example, when the X-Pro2 first released, it had 273 AF points. The autofocus system in the X-Pro2 was fast enough for most situations, but when the X-T2 was released only 6 months later, it had 325 AF points that were all just a bit faster than the X-Pro2. What did Fujifilm do about this? They released a firmware update that literally upgraded the freaking AF system on the X-Pro2 so that it matched the same 325 point AF system from the X-T2! THAT, my friends, is how you run a business with a core competency of customer satisfaction…

As for the menu system, I think it’s laid out pretty well. It definitely takes some getting used to if you’re coming from a DSLR since there are so many more customization options in the mirrorless cameras. All in all, I found it pretty easy to navigate after the first few days of use, and I really enjoy that they give you a “MY” menu for storing all of your most-used menu settings in one place.

The feature that needs the biggest firmware improvement is the wireless communications setup between the X-T2 and smart devices. It’s extremely slow to connect, sometimes it’s very laggy once it does connect, and it often doesn’t want to connect at all. The biggest issue I have been having with it is that I can use my iPhone as a wireless feed and remote for the camera, but the second I want to import the photos to my phone, the app will crash or disconnect from the camera. This happens about 50% of the time. It seems that it makes you choose “remote” or “import” right from the launch of the app instead of being able to bounce back and forth between the two like it’s supposed to do.

Now that I have talked about how bad and unreliable the wireless communication features are, I will give you a big positive point to end this category with. The Fujifilm wireless remote app is really good… when it works. It’s one of the only wireless camera apps that allows you to change aperture, shutter speed, white balance, AND focus. If you do a lot of videos trying to record yourself, it’s hard to know when you’re in perfect focus. When using this app, all you have to do is tweak the focus for where you’re already standing instead of trying to pre-focus the camera to an area where you may or may not even be.

Autofocus System

I am going to get right to the point. The autofocus system in the X-T2 is the fastest and most accurate AF system I have used in any mirrorless camera. The real test for AF systems is seeing how well they acquire focus in low light. I don’t mean going out at golden hour to see how well the AF performs. I’m talking about shooting a wedding reception where all you have are some candles and DJ lights. Fortunately, I was able to test this camera in some serious low light situations, and it performed wonderfully. The best low light focusing cameras I have used to date are the D4 and D500 from Nikon, and the X-T2 is just a hair faster than both of these cameras when the best Fujinon glass is mounted to the b0dy.

As for tracking fast moving subjects with the X-T2, it’s tough to give a definitive answer. I say that because the X-T2 tracks insanely well when the AF-C custom settings have been tweaked for the specific situation. If you just flip the AF mode selector from “S” to “C” and start firing off frames, it’s not as accurate as I would prefer it to be. It’s not slow or bad by any means, but I would say that it’s pretty inconsistent if you don’t tweak the AF-C custom settings and focus zones in the menu system.

EXAMPLE: This photo was captured in AF-C mode on custom setting #2 with the center zone selected. I chose custom setting #2 because this tweaks the focus to ignore obstacles like the bushes and weeds you can see creeping into the foreground. It After tweaking, it produced tack sharp images every time! Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm

EXAMPLE: This photo was captured in AF-C mode on custom setting #2 with the center zone selected. I chose custom setting #2 because this tweaks the focus to ignore obstacles like the bushes and weeds you can see creeping into the foreground. After tweaking, it produced tack sharp images every time! Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm                                                

Lastly If you’re interested to see how fast the X-T2 obtains focus acquisition in low light, you can check out this video I made comparing the AF speeds between the Fuji X-T2 and Nikon D810.

X-T2 vs D810: Low Light Autofocus Test

 Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range is a big deal for me being that I am a landscape photographer. To be honest, I was still worried about the dynamic range on the X-T2 even after I placed the order to purchase one. Dynamic Range is a topic that most camera reviewers don’t test, so I did’t really know what to expect. 

Using the X-T2 exclusively for the past two months has allowed me to learn a lot about it’s dynamic range capabilities. It seems to recover highlights in a much better way than it recovers shadows. Now, this all depends on the lighting situation you’re in whether it’s Indoor tungsten, direct sun light, dusk, etc. The quality of the light directly impacts how much noise and degradation you get in the image. I have posted a couple of example photos below…

HIGHLIGHT RECOVERY: The version of this photo on the left is 2 stops over exposed right out of the camera, and as you can see with the version on the right, the RAW file held brilliantly during highlight recovery. It even brought back the nice colors that were deep within the file.

HIGHLIGHT RECOVERY: The version of this photo on the left is 2 stops over exposed straight out of the camera, and as you can see from the version on the right, the RAW file held together brilliantly during highlight recovery. It even brought back the nice colors that were deep within the file.

SHADOW RECOVERY: The version on the left is 2 stops under exposed and completely blacked out. The version on the right is after shadow recovery. As you can see, it's quite impressive how much luminance was able to be recovered from the file, but if you take a closer look, you can see significant color noise and loss of image quality.

SHADOW RECOVERY IN BAD LIGHT: The version on the left is 2 stops under exposed and completely blacked out. The version on the right is after shadow recovery in Lightroom CC. As you can see, it’s quite impressive how much luminance was able to be recovered from the file, but if you take a closer look, you can see significant color noise and loss of image quality.

This is a 100& crop of the shadow recovery photo above. I want you to be able to see the loss of detail and the noise that creeps in when trying to recover the shadows from this kind of shooting condition.

This is a 100& crop of the shadow recovered photo above. I wanted you to be able to see the loss of detail and the noise that creeps in when trying to recover the shadows from this kind of lighting condition.

SHADOW RECOVERY IN GOOD LIGHT: The version on the left is 2.5 stops under exposed. As you can see with the mid-day sun light, the shadows recovered with no issue.

SHADOW RECOVERY IN GOOD LIGHT: The version on the left is 2 stops under exposed. As you can see from the version on the right, the shadows recovered with no issue this time. This photo was taken during mid-day light instead sunset like the noisy result above. 

Here is the 100% crop of the shadow recovered version above. You can see that with good light, the shadows recover just fine. The only negative aspect of shadow recovery from the Fujifilm RAW files is that it

Here is the 100% crop of the shadow recovered version above. You can see that good light makes all the difference in the world. The only negative aspect of shadow recovery from the Fujifilm RAW files is that some of the colors start to turn a bit grey. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix with the Nik Collection Color Effects Pro software suite.

ISO Performance

Surprisingly, I have no complaints concerning high ISO performance. I am comfortable shooting at ISO 6400 since it retains about 80% of the detail you would normally see from this camera at lower ISO values. That’s assuming that the subject you’re shooting at has some kind of ambient light source around. What impresses me the most about the higher ISO values of the X-T2 is the camera’s ability to produce 99% perfect color rendition and white balance in every image.

I just wish that Fujifilm will allow us to natively shoot lower than ISO 200 in the near future. I haven’t experienced any big issues at ISO 200 for my landscape photography, but my favorite thing about my Nikon D810 is that I can shoot at a native ISO 64. The lower ISO values give me a cleaner image, more room in post production to push the dynamic range, and it really helps when trying to drag the shutter for long exposures without the use of an ND filter. 

I could keep writing about ISO, but people like seeing results. Not long after I purchased the X-T2, I did a direct ISO comparison between the X-T2 and the D810 all the way up to 12,800 ISO. I think you will be surprised at the results, and I even provided a link for you to download the RAW files from both cameras. You can read that blog post HERE or check out the video below…

HIGH ISO EXAMPLE: This photo was taken at ISO 10000. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm

HIGH ISO EXAMPLE: This photo was taken at ISO 10,000. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm

EVF And Rear LCD

To be 100% honest, I really love DSLR optical viewfinders. It’s all I have ever known. When the EVF’s first came out on these mirrorless cameras, I was sure that I could never use one for my professional work, and Unfortunately, I was correct. After using the Sony a6000, Sony A7r II, Panasonic G7, and a few others over the years, I never found an EVF that made me want to use it over an optical viewfinder. The EVF’s were just not detailed enough, a little laggy, and way too noisy in low light.

When I first put my eye up to the X-T2, it was like looking into my own personal HDTV. The colors were amazing, it was easy to see focus, I could see depth of field in real time, and there was room for a live histogram without taking up 60% of the screen. The EVF is so detailed that I use it almost exclusively over the live view to grab perfect manual focus for my landscape photos. I’m not sure what Fujifilm did when creating the EVF for the X-T2, but I can tell you that it’s the first EVF that I have been able to use without missing my optical viewfinder. 

After all of my positive feedback on the EVF, I wish I could give you the same for the rear LCD. However, it’s just nothing special. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s hard to use it as a primary source for image review and focus check when the camera has a 2.36 million dot EVF right above the 1.04 million dot LCD. Now, you’re probably thinking how spoiled I sound for saying those things since they both have over 1 million dots of resolution, but you will completely understand once you go back forth between the EVF and LCD. Luckily, the LCD on the X-T2 was not a “make it or break it” feature for me. I shoot through the viewfinder 95% of the time, so I am lucky that the EVF is where Fujifilm decided to work their wizardry.

The last point I will mention regarding the LCD is the fact that it can now flip out into a vertical format. At first glance, you might think that you won’t use this feature, but It proved to be pretty useful when I had to get low to the ground in vertical format.

At the end of the day, I wish that the rear LCD was fully articulating like the Canon 80D and many others. I think that adding that one feature would make the X-T2 much more attractive to vloggers and videographers.

Handling And Ergonomics

This category is one of the most important for me because if a camera isn’t comfortable enough to use on a daily basis, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase it. I personally found the X-T2 a little small for my big hands when I first picked it up. It was mainly that my pinky finger had nowhere to go on the grip. I love the size of the camera, but once I started mounting heavier lenses like the Fujinon 16-55 f/2.8, it made the camera even harder to balance in with the tiny grip. 

After the first 24 hours with the camera, I got online to see what other people with big hands were saying about the X-T2, and I saw the same advice on every forum… GET THE BATTERY GRIP! So, that is exactly what I did, and it’s the best accessory I have purchased for my X-T2 so far. It gave my pinky finger a place to grip, balanced the camera with larger lenses, gave me longer battery life, and it gave me the ability to shoot at 11fps in “boost” mode. It’s a no brainer! I highly recommend purchasing the booster grip with your X-T2.

As for overall ergonomics, the manual dials are the stars of the show in my opinion. They are simply perfect. I love having manual dials and rings at my fingertips to control shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and exposure compensation. It allows me to change my settings very quickly without having to take my eye out of the viewfinder. Other than the dials, all of the buttons on the camera have a very nice and tactile feel to them.

My two favorite features regarding ergonomics, are the new joystick and the locking/unlocking mechanism for the shutter speed and ISO dials. The joystick makes it super easy to navigate around the 325 AF points, and no matter what focus point you have selected at any given time, all you have to do is press the joystick inward to automatically get back to the center AF point. The new lock/unlock mechanism for the shutter and ISO dials are a very welcome upgrade. It simply insures that my settings won’t accidentally get changed when I’m taking the camera out of the bag, mounting it on a tripod, or slipping a rain cover over the top of the camera.

Video

I want to preface this category by making all of you aware that I am not a professional videographer. I definitely have a great interest in video and find it very fun to film and edit all of my VLOGS for my YouTube channel, but my career is in photography.

I can tell you that the video is extremely sharp compared to other 4k mirrorless cameras I have shot with. The X-T2 records in a higher resolution than 4k and somehow down samples to 4k in real time for sharper footage and less moire. Fujifilm doesn’t fully explain how the technology works, but it works well. 

What impressed me the most about shooting video with the X-T2 was it’s buttery smooth autofocus in continuous mode. With the influx of vloggers over the past few years, Having smooth autofocus transitions while shooting video seems to be one of the most important features that people look for. Until now, I have always recommended the Canon 70d or 80d for people who wanted smooth AF during video due to Canon’s dual pixel AF technology. In my opinion, the video AF on the X-T2 really holds it’s own against the 70d, and it’s just a little slower and less smooth than the 80d.

I wish I could keep going on about all of the video features for you, but it just wouldn’t be accurate or fair to give you strong opinions on the X-T2’s video capabilities without hardcore testing like I have done on all of the other categories. However, I promise that I will do more testing in the future and post the results on my YouTube channel. You can SUBSCRIBE to my channel HERE.

The Conclusion… 

What I liked The Most

  • Build quality
  • Snappy autofocus in good AND bad light
  • Autofocus tracking accuracy after tweaking the settings
  • Sharpness and image quality
  • Clean details and color accuracy at high ISO
  • manual dials
  • EVF

What Needs The Most Improvement

  • Continuous autofocus tracking in default AF-C mode
  • dynamic range shadow recovery
  • Base ISO lower than 200
  • Fujifilm app and Wifi communication reliability

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Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55mm f/1.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 16-55mm f/1.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200 f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200 f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200 f/3.5-4.8

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200 f/3.5-4.8

Disney Day 6(Last Day): Reflections In Magic Kingdom And A Creepy Ending At The Haunted Mansion

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The Best Day Of  The Week…

After walking around the Disney parks for a week and trying to manage the late nights with early mornings, it was so nice to have a relaxing day with no reservations or plans of any kind. Since today was our last day, we all decided that we wanted to spend the day in Magic Kingdom taking photos of the kids, watching the parades, and just walking around slowly to enjoy all of the architectural details that Disney has to offer. 

I’m glad that I ended up packing all of my Fuji lenses for this trip because I was able to see which lenses I used the most. My two most-used lenses all week were definitely the Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-4 kit lens and the Fuji 35 f/2 prime lens. I used the Fuji 55-200 telephoto lens a fair bit as well for the parades and wildlife, but the other two lenses lived on my X-T2 most of the week. The 18-55 with it’s incredible OIS, covered most of my architecture and low light photos, while the 35mm f/2 covered the family photos and Disney character portraits. Now I know for the future that those three lenses are my must-have camera kit for travel. If you’re interested in seeing the entire Fuji kit that I took to Disney, you can watch that video HERE.

Night Time And Rain In Magic Kingdom With A Haunted Ending…

If you have been to Disney before, you know how magical everything becomes at night. Almost every square inch of the park is lit up, the weather cools off, and most the crowds start to leave park. Lucky for us, we have been staying on Disney property all week so we took advantage of the Disney “Magic Hours” from 10pm t0 12am. The “Magic Hours” allowed us to stay in the park two hours later than regular guests, and that is typically when I capture all of the long exposure Disney photos that you see in my portfolio.

Not long after nightfall, it started raining pretty hard, but we were ok with that since we knew it would clear the park of even more people. Pro tip: When it rains in Disney, 90% of the people think they’re going to melt if they get wet, so that means you get the park to yourself. While it was raining, we walked around in all of the cool shops on Main Street in Magic Kingdom, and I got to capture a really cool photo of a professional glass blower who was working on a new piece for the store’s collection. I really like the way his photo turned out! I have always believed that everything happens for reason, and had it not rained that night, we would have never gone inside that little shop, and I would have never captured that photo. Pretty cool 🙂

After we shopped around in the stores and purchased some good ole Disney merchandise, we noticed that the hard rain had turned into a light sprinkle, and there were no humans to be seen in any direction! It can be a little weird walking down Main Street in the busiest theme park in the world with no people in sight, but that is exactly how I like it. Most people just don’t take the time to wait out the crowds…

It was a very enjoyable night being able to ride all of our favorite rides with no wait times or people… Well, until my friend Joseph and I asked the wives if we could ride The Haunted Mansion on our way out of the park…big mistake  😯 . We were making our way to the front of the park so we could head back to the hotel, and as we were walking by the rides and stores, the lights were blacking out one-by one. It was a little creepy since we were the only ones left in the park, but we just assumed that they were closing things up since it was a little after midnight at that point. We also figured that The Haunted Mansion would probably be closed since everything else was closing as we walked by.

Well, as we approached The Haunted Mansion, we saw one single cast member standing outside the line waiting for people to come in. Of course, Joseph and I walked up to ask her if it was still open, and the lady didn’t say one word. She just starred at us with a straight face and pointed towards the ride. We were already a little creeped out at that point, but we assumed that her pointing meant that we could go through the line. If you have never ridden The Haunted Mansion before, you won’t know what I am talking about, but before you actually get on the ride, they take you into a pretty big room where they act out a short little skit that is supposed to be playful and scary at the same time. It’s fun to watch people get a little freaked out before getting on the ride, but I have the entire skit memorized because I have been riding The Haunted Mansion since I was a little kid. I also know that every time I have ever ridden  The Haunted Mansion during magic hours, they skip the little skit and let you get right on the ride. Naturally, I assumed they would do the same in this situation since it was literally just me and Joseph. I was wrong… One of the cast members took us into the big room, a shorter version of the skit played throughout the speakers, all of the doors around us shut, and then BOOM…the lights went out. Before the light went out, we were the only two people in that big room. BOOM! The lights came back on, and there were two girls dressed as creepy maids that randomly appeared about 6 inches away from our faces. We literally felt their breath…

After that insanely creepy moment, those two girls opened the door that lead to the ride, and we finally got on. Even more creepy things happened while we were on the ride, but that is a story for a different day. It’s really late and I still have to pack up my stuff and get some sleep since we’re leaving to go home in about 7 hours(yikes). Thank you all for following the blog all week and going on this Disney adventure with me and my family! Just promise me you’ll think twice before rinding The Haunted Mansion after hours.

Enjoy viewing all of my best photos from our last day…

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This is one of Disney’s awesome cast members in the “circus” section of Magic Kingdom. This guy’s face had such a unique look, so I had to ask him for a photo. Luck for me, he said yes!

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This is my beautiful baby girl, Scarlett. My wife and I envisioned this photo before we ever went on this trip, and we made it come to life. This little green patch of AstroTurf is great for photos of the kids with the castle in the background! 

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This is the glass blower that I got to photograph when we ran into the shops to escape the rain after sunset. I just love this image!

Fuji X-T2 | 18-55 f/2.8-4 Kit Lens | This is a photo of Magic Kingdom’s classic steamboat. Looking at this scene made me think of the old steamboat Mickey cartoon.

Fuji X-T2 | 35mm f/2 WR | This was the very last photo I took. We were on the way out of the park, it had just started raining again, and I saw those refections just singing my name. Obviously, I had to stop and grab a set of photos even though I got soaked. It was so beautiful!


 

Disney Day 5: Epcot At Golden Hour And German Sausage

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Golden Light, Another Great Sunset, And Snacks…

We all went back to Epcot tonight because…well, Epcot is a whole different world of magic and culture when golden hour hits. The countries all start to turn on lanterns and beautiful lights, the weather gets cooler, and all of the golden light starts reflecting off of the huge man-made lake in the middle of the Epcot World Showcase.

Our wives were looking at all of the souvenirs while Joseph and I were taking photos and drooling over the light hitting the architecture all around us. After walking around a bit and enjoying some family time and photography, the wives wanted to get some snacks. They were talking about ice cream, some kind of French fruit parfait, etc etc. This is where Joseph and I offered to take the kids, part ways from the ladies for a little while, and find some “man snacks” in another country. 

After getting distracted by taking photos of the kids around the park, we finally arrived in Germany at Biergarten to get some homemade sausage and authentic German beer. Typically, I’m not a beer drinker, but when I travel, I love experiencing new things. 

After we all enjoyed our snacks, we met back up with the wives and continued to have a fantastic evening! Family, friends, food, and great photos. Couldn’t ask for a better night! Below, you can see a few of my photos from tonight. Time to get in bed and gear up for tomorrow!

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4 | This photo was captured about 45 min before sunset. Everyone else was watching the Chinese dancers preform under this beautiful structure, but I was focused on capturing the golden light and interesting clouds.

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4 | The sunset was so good that I had to take a photo even though there wasn’t a great foreground at the time. However, I thought it was a pretty interesting image since I captured two countries and a hotel in one single photograph. Across the lake, you’ll see Morocco on the left, The Swan & Dolphin Resort in the middle, and France on the right.


 

Disney Day 4: Magic Kingdom And Magic Sunset

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Golden Hour Got Funky Fresh…

We spent most of today in Magic Kingdom taking some family photos with the kids and visiting all of the iconic rides. It’s been a fantastic day, but I was a little bummed that the weather was supposed to be gross and cloudy this evening. I knew that it was probably going to ruin my photo opportunities that I had been planning since the beginning of this week.

Well, I am not quite sure how it happened, but the clouds opened up and revealed the most beautiful golden hour I’ve ever seen in Magic Kingdom. I was lucky enough to be facing the perfect direction of sunset when the sky decided to open up, but I had one dilemma…tonight was the one and only night that I didn’t bring my tripod because I thought the weather was going to suck all day and night. I’m an idiot…

Thank God For Fuji OIS Lenses…

My shutter speed at the widest aperture and a moderate ISO was giving me 1/25. That is pretty slow to hand-hold on a windy night with tons of people walking by and running into me. Nonetheless, I was confident enough in the X-T2 and 18-55mm lens to handle high ISO and camera shake for me. I cranked the ISO to 2500, dialed in my shutter speed at 1/60, held my breathe, and started firing off exposures. 

When I captured this a few hours ago, I had no clue that the colors and light were going to show up like this in the RAW file. I am extremely happy with these two photos, and they were both taken with the 18-55mm kit lens. Best kit lens I have ever used!

One single exposure processed with Photoshop and Nik Collection. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4

One single exposure processed with Photoshop and Nik Collection. Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4

Who says I can't paint? I converted this photo to a digital oil painting in Photoshop. I am a huge fan of Thomas Kinkade's Disney work. Everyone called him

Who says I can’t paint? I converted this photo to a digital oil painting in Photoshop. I am a huge fan of Thomas Kinkade’s Disney work. Everyone called him “the painter of light.” I thought this photo needed an extra bit of creativity so I came up with this. There are no such thing as rules in the art world 🙂 Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 18-55 f/2.8-4


 

Disney Day #3: Animal Kingdom And Swahili Soul

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Swahili Saxophone Player And A Huge Gorilla…

If you follow my YouTube channel, you have heard me say millions times that the best time to take photos in Disney World is at night. Well, Animal Kingdom is an exception to that statement. Why? Most of Animal kingdom is covered with trees due to all of the animals, and that ends up providing lots of dappled light in the best way possible.

You have to really look for those “magic light” moments, or they will be gone just as fast as they came. If you’re new to photography, you may be asking yourself right now what the heck “magic light” is. It all has to do with the way the light interacts with shadow and creates an interesting contrast between the two. 

Here’s a couple photos from today, and if you want to check out the rest of my Disney portfolio, CLICK HERE. 

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm | Swahili Sax Player jamming some soulful tunes. The second I pointed the camera at this guy, he started really animating stage presence. It was awesome! 

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm | Swahili Sax Player jamming some soulful tunes. The second I pointed the camera at this guy, he started really animating stage presence. It was awesome!

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm | Gorilla dreaming of freedom... FYI, this shot was taken at 10,000 ISO. It's amazing how the detail held up.

Fuji X-T2 | Fujinon 55-200mm | Gorilla dreaming of freedom… FYI, this shot was taken at 10,000 ISO. It’s amazing how the detail held up.


 

Disney Day #2: Epcot And Dinner At Tokyo Dining

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Good Food, Good Light, And Great Friends…

 

Today we spent the first half of the day in Epcot while our friends and their son traveled from Georgia to spend the week with us. 

It’s always nice taking photos and being in Disney during the most uncrowded times of the year. THAT is where it’s awesome having a wife that is a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. She always hooks us up with the best shows, fast passes, and dinner reservations. 

Once our friends arrived, we met them back at the hotel and got ready for dinner at Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s World Showcase. If you haven’t eaten there before and you like Japanese cuisine, you are really missing out! They have some of the best sushi I have ever had in the states. Disney definitely prides themselves on making all of the countries insanely authentic with the people, architecture, food, and the whole cultural experience. 

There was a fantastic golden hour today with tons of beautiful/warm light kissing the sides of the epic Disney Architecture. I was able to take one photo of the light hitting a clocktower in Italy that stands next to another awesome restaurant called Via Napoli. Great pizza!

All in all, it was an awesome first day with our friends, and we’re all looking forward to a great night of sleep to prep us for another day in the magical world of Disney. I should probably stop blogging now since I’m the last one awake. Look below for a few photos I took today with the Fuji X-T2.

Nighty night, internet friends 🙂

PS: If you’re interested in any of the camera gear I took with me to Disney World, you can watch my “Packing Cameras For Disney” video HERE.

Dia De Los Muertos(Day Of The Dead) - Fuji X-T2 | Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-4

Dia De Los Muertos(Day Of The Dead) – Fuji X-T2 | Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-4

 

Clocktower in Italy overlooking Via Napoli restaurant. Fuji X-T2 | Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-4

Clocktower in Italy overlooking Via Napoli restaurant. Fuji X-T2 | Fuji 18-55 f/2.8-4


 

Disney Day #1: Animal Kingdom And Tornado Warnings

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Gale Force Winds…

I am very thankful that we left for Disney on Saturday instead of Sunday since the storms were crazy all over Florida today! There were 40 to 50mph wind gusts, and the clouds were pretty crazy looking.

Since it was our first day waking up here in Disney, we decided to head to Animal Kingdom since we knew our 10 month old daughter would love looking at all the different animals! The park wasn’t very crowded at all, but the security bag-check-line to get in the park was honestly ridiculous. They have changed their bag-check procedures apparently.

I rarely get ticked off, but I was not happy about how they were treating me different JUST because I had photography equipment. They acted like my camera equipment was homemade explosives. When I asked why they were checking MY bag differently than everyone else’s, they said, “I’m sorry sir, it’s procedure.” Well, that makes about as much sense as the Canon 5d Mark IV…

Anyway, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but they basically let my wife and tons of other people walk right into the park with their backpacks full of stuff after simply taking a quick “peek” into their bags. Not me…They unzipped every tiny little zipper on my camera bag, went through my memory card pouch, took both lens caps off of every lens, etc. It was just dumb. You can watch my VLOG about it HERE.

 

Happiness From Here On…

Once security finally made up their mind that I wasn’t a terrorist,(sarcasm)we had a blast! Our daughter, Scarlett, loved seeing all of the animals run around! It was a great “dad moment” watching her enjoy Disney for the first time, and it might have even brought a single tear to my eye…

After my emotional “dad moment” was over, I noticed that it was going to be tough to find a photo with the mid-day light and crazy winds. However, I made up my mind that I was going to work the ominous clouds and crazy wind into my art, so that is exactly what I did 🙂

I used a fun technique where I purposely let the shutter drag down to around 1/10th to 1/30th of a second to get some cool motion blur effects. I ended up getting two decent photos out of the day that you can check out below.

Thanks for reading, and check back to see what fun and/or craziness we get ourselves into on Day #2! 

Camera: Fuji X-T2 | Lens: Fuji XF 55-200 f/3.5-4.8

Camera: Fuji X-T2 | Lens: Fuji XF 55-200 f/3.5-4.8

Camera: Fuji X-T2 | Lens: Fuji XF 18-55 f/2.8-4

Camera: Fuji X-T2 | Lens: Fuji XF 18-55 f/2.8-4


 

Family Vacation: Desolation Of Disney & Packing My Fuji XT2 Kit

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Rain, Rain, Rain…Oh, And Severe Thunderstorms…

Ok, so it’s the morning of our trip to Disney World with our good friends, and the weather is not behaving for us at all. It’s about a 7.5 hour drive to Disney from our house, but it’s looking like it might be a VERY long trip based on the weather.

We were supposed to leave for the trip on Monday, but my wife and I moved it up a couple of days because of even worse severe weather coming in. Apparently, there is no escaping it…

Packing My Fuji X-T2 Kit For Disney World

Enough of the depressing details! We’re going to Disney World! I am super excited to try out all of my new Fujfilm X Mirrorless gear, and this will be the first time in my entire photographic career that I have not taken a DSLR on the road with me. I already have my fair share of Fuji gear that I am bringing, so there is no need to add a heavy DSLR to the kit. Plus, I really trust the Fuji system, and I just know it will take care of me and the memories of my daughter’s first Disney trip.

Well, I am just sitting here with my daughter while my wife is dropping our dogs off at my in-laws house, so I am going to start packing the car in this rainy mess. 

You can watch the video below if you’re interested in the camera gear and bags that I am taking. I will also be blogging more about my experience using the Fuji X-T2 system in Disney World as the week goes on.

You can also check out my ENTIRE DISNEY PORTFOLIO HERE. Have a great weekend!


 

Why Are Fujifilm X Cameras So Special? Fuji XT2 Mini Review

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Ohhh, so THAT Is What Fuji Fanboys Are Talking About…

I am going on three weeks of being a “Fuji Shooter” with my X-T2, and I can say with complete confidence that it has exceeded my expectations. 

I am primarily a landscape/nature photographer and have always used my big Nikon DSLRs. I have been very pleased with my D810 for the past two years, but there are four distinct features that I think sets Fujifilm X cameras apart from the other camera brands I have used.

#1 Light Rendition:

I have no technical explanation for this one. I have used tons of cameras, but the way the Fuji X-trans sensors record light is just magical. There is such a defined and attractive separation between highlight and shadow. I’m Pretty sure that Fuji performs some kind of wizardry on these sensors after Sony sends them over.

This image was taken during golden hour, and I still can’t explain how the sensor magically portrays the separation between the cold blue shadows and the golden highlights kissing the rocks.


#2 High ISO Detail:

This is a big one for me because I do a lot of printing. There many times where I see “the shot” and just have to crank the ISO much higher than normal to capture the moment before it disappears. Usually when this happens while I am shooting with my D810, it’s kind of a general rule that loss of detail and color starts happening around 3200 ISO. For sharing online or any kind of web use, 3200 and up is easily useable on the D810, but printing is entirely different. To my complete surprise, the XT2 files are still useable at 6400 ISO and up for printing. I ordered a 16×24 print from an XT2 TIFF file that was shot at ISO 8000, and it looked freaking phenomenal due to the amount of detail that held together at the higher ISO values on the Fuji XT2. If you would like to see a Fuji vs Nikon ISO comparison I did, you can read that blog post HERE.

This image was taken handheld at 5000 ISO with no noticeable loss of detail at all.

This image was taken handheld at 5000 ISO with no noticeable loss of detail at all.


#3 The Mechanical Dials:

The image quality isn’t the only reason that the XT2 has been an absolute pleasure to shoot with. The handling and ergonomics of this camera simply make it fun to use. My favorite feature about the ergonomics of course are the mechanical dials on top for controlling ISO, shutter speed, metering, and exposure compensation. Not only does it make for a super fast workflow when shooting, but it also adds that beautiful bit of nostalgia as if I’m shooting on an old film camera.


#4 Color Rendition:

Last but not least, the color rendition on that Fuji cranks out of their files are stunning. It really has a look of it’s own that I have not seen before when using any other camera or software plugin. If you make the jump and purchase one of these Fuji X cameras, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Ever since the first few Fujifilm mirrorless cameras started to hit the market a few years ago, I have heard nothing but good things about their natural rendition of “colory” buttery goodness. Now I know why people won’t shut up about it ;-).

This image only had some micro contrast and sharpening applied to it. The colors and perfect exposure are straight out of the camera. It impressed the heck out of me!

This image only had some micro contrast and sharpening applied to it. The colors and exposure are straight out of the camera. It impressed the heck out of me!


Conclusion And Video Going Over These Four Topics…

If you can’t tell, I am really loving this camera so far, but I have obviously found some quirks and cons that I will mention in my full review(coming soon). I will go ahead and put your mind at ease by saying that I haven’t found anything yet that bothered me enough to sell it or return it. I am going on almost a month of not touching my Nikon D810. It might sound weird, but when I get creative and feel like going on a photo adventure, I just naturally pick up my Fuji kit without thinking. It just feels right…

As Always, please let me know in the comments if you have ANY questions at all.

-Eric


 

Fuji X-T2 vs Nikon D810: Low Light ISO Showdown

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The ISO Showdown…

I have been using my Nikon D810 now just about every day for 2 years. I have put it through hell with crazy weather conditions, quicksand, salt water, UNDER water, etc…but…I have never truly tested the high ISO noise performance of this camera. Now that I think of it, no one has ever asked me to test the ISO performance either. The second that I purchased the X-T2, it’s like everyone in the world wanted to see how the ISO of the full frame D810 would stack up against the new kid on the block.(Fuji X-T2)

After a ton of FB messages, emails, and YouTube comments all requesting me to do this comparison, here it is, FME fans! You can watch the video below where you will see me setup the ISO test, and you can also download the RAW files from both cameras completely FREE. That way you can all make your own opinions 🙂

Keep the requests coming! Obviously, I make this free content for you, so I want to know what all of YOU want to watch. Take care!


 

Fuji X-T2 Landscape Photography VLOG

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Testing The Fuji X-T2

This was my first time bringing the Fuji camera for a day of landscape photography while leaving my Nikon D810 at home, and the X-T2 honestly impressed me way more than I thought it would

I have been shooting on 35mm full frame Nikon cameras for as long as I can remember, and after an entire day of shooting waterfalls, creeks, architecture, and very harsh lighting situations, I honestly forgot everything about what camera I was shooting with. I was just focused on capturing the photos.

There were many great aspects of shooting landscapes with the X-T2, but the best part was the size and weight. I was able to fit my entire day-kit in a messenger bag…that was AWESOME! I did not miss my full frame camera all day, and I am very happy with the images I came away with.

No matter what camera you are shooting with, never let your gear get in the way of taking the photo itself. You can see the VLOG and photos from the trip below:

Fuji X-T2 | 42

Fuji X-T2 | 42″ | f/11 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 1/2000 | f/5.6 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 1/2000 | f/5.6 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 1/400 | f/4 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 1/400 | f/4 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 1/3000 | f/16 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 1/3000 | f/16 | ISO 200

Fuji X-T2 | 27

Fuji X-T2 | 27″ | f/8 | ISO 200


 

Photo Contest Winner Announced & Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas To All Of My Awesome Viewers!!

Thank you so much to all who participated in the Christmas Photo Contest! 

It was very fun going through everyone’s entries, and we even had two honorable mentions along with the winner. It was very tough deciding on our favorite out of the top 3 photos, but the winning photo showed wonderful technique and a simple/powerful composition. 

Here is the winning photo and the video where I announced the winner:

Photograph is ©LewisMarroquin.

winner-photo


 

Old Dapper German Man

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Road Trip To An Old Bookstore…

So, I’m a bit of a History nerd…and when I say a bit, I mean I might be obsessed. However, I only take interest in specific historic cultures and events.

In this case, I was traveling out-of-state to a bookstore that supposedly had two old books I have been trying to track down for a while: A mint first edition print-run of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and an old book about the Templar Knights and Solomon’s temple. 

As you can see, this place looked like a hurricane hit it, but these kind of bookstores are where you find the best books.

As you can see, this place looked like a hurricane hit it, but these kind of bookstores are where you find the best books…and the most interesting people.

NEW PHOTO – Old Dapper German Man

When I was walking out of the bookstore, there was an older man about to walk in. He looked at me and said, “hey there, what books did you get?” I showed him the books I purchased, and he started telling me stories about him and this old bookstore his family used to own in Germany where he was born.

In the middle of conversation, my “creative brain” distracted me and noticed the window of colorful yarn right behind him. So, as he was still talking to me, I snapped a quick photo hoping I got the colorful yarn in the background. It worked out well 🙂


 

Digital Blending Your HDR Photography

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Blending Your Brackets WITHOUT HDR Software…

HDR(High Dynamic Range)is one of those styles of photography that some people love, some people hate, and some people just don’t understand.

This fun style of photography is nothing more than capturing multiple photos of a scene at different light values in order to blend the best part of each photo into “one photo to rule them all.”

I made a very detailed digital blending tutorial that you can follow along with by downloading my PSD with the RAW files from this project below. I hope this helps everyone, and you can always find more free tutorials on my YouTube channel!


 

Best Black Friday/Holiday Camera Deals 2016!

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black-friday-camera-deals-fme

Camera Deals Or “SCAMERA” Deals?

Ok, so I typically never get too excited about Black Friday camera deals since most of them are “SCAMERA” deals. However, this year, Nikon and B&H are doing some pretty killer camera bundles and discounts!

If you’re a Nikon shooter or you’re thinking about switching to Nikon from another brand, now is the time. Nikon has discounted quite a few of their camera bodies anywhere from $200 to $500 off of the retail price! Oh, and did I mention that Nikon is including their very expensive OEM factory battery grips for free with most of their DSLR bodies!? Pretty awesome!

My top pick camera deals are below:

Cameras:

  • Nikon D500: $200 off and includes the battery grip plus some goodies from B&H. This is probably the best deal I have seen since this camera is so new. I will probably buy this one myself! B&H PRODUCT LINK

  • Nikon D810: Ok, so this one is a great deal too, but not as good as B&H says it is. It says $500 off on the website, but it’s really $300 off because this camera has been on a permanent sale for almost a year now. Still a great deal and comes with the battery grip. B&H PRODUCT LINK

  • Nikon D7200: $200 off and this one does not come with the battery grip for some reason. However, this is a wonderful camera and a great option if you don’t want to spend the extra money for the D500. B&H PRODUCT LINK

Lenses:

  • Nikon 14-24 f/2.8: $200 off the retail price, and any amount of money off of this lens is considered a good deal. B&H PRODUCT LINK

  • Nikon 24-120: This lens isn’t technically “on sale” since it’s refurbished, but it is still a killer deal. This lens retails for almost $1,100. Check out the crazy low price that they’re selling it for now! B&H PRODUCT LINK

I hope this helped some of you find some sweet deals on photography gear! Have a great holiday weekend!

-Eric


 

So Shines A Good Deed In A Weary World

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Little House In The Forest…

This is just one of those photos that was really fun to capture and post process. I’m not 100% sure why this happens, but every once in a while I really show favoritism towards a specific photo.

I was on my way to a small town in Alabama to shoot Fall colors when I saw this beautiful overlook to my right. Obviously, I had to stop the car so I could determine whether or not the scene had potential for a great photo. Well, the second that I saw the little house with it’s own little section of the forest, I just fell in love with this scene. 

Wait For The Light…

The clouds were moving very fast that day, so it was making it tough to capture the light at it’s best. For the longest time, that beautiful little house was in deep shade, but I waited as long as it took for that perfect beam of light to accentuate all of the magic that the landscape had to offer.

-Eric


Desoto State Park In Autumn

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 The Hunt For Autumn Colors…

As an outdoor photographer, Autumn is one of the best times for adding great images to my portfolio for print sales and licensing. However, the past two years have been really dull and flat where I live in Georgia, so I typically have to drive out of state to find vibrant colors.

This year, I ended up driving to a small little town in Alabama that I have never been to before called, Mentone. It was a beautiful little town surrounded by even more beautiful state parks. Desoto State Park is where I took this photo, and I honestly didn’t think I would like the way it turned out since the mid-day-sun was beating contrasty light into the trees and water. 

After reviewing everything on my computer, I thought that the lighting was actually pretty cool with the left side of the composition hidden in shadow. I just used some post processing tools to chisel the detail out of the huge wall of rock, and I ended up being really happy with the way this image turned out. 

-Eric


An Unexpected Journey To Maryville, Tennessee

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An Unexpected Journey To Maryville, Tennessee…

My wife and I love visiting quaint little bed and breakfasts every Fall with her parents. We all love hiking and the outdoors, so it makes our trips super fun and filled with adventure.

To make a very long story short, we all booked a B&B that we had never been to before, and we had quite a few issues with the rooms when we arrived. After telling the staff about the rooms, they basically looked at us like we were crazy and told us that they had no other rooms available. 

So, we were over three hours from home, didn’t have a place to stay, and we were in the middle of nowhere…so we thought. We ended up driving to a few other places to check for available rooms, but everywhere was booked solid. Right before dark, we found this place that was tucked away in the forest down a dirt road called, Sweet Berries Bed And Breakfast in Maryville, Tennessee.

Cades Cove In The Great Smoky Mountains

After waking up from a great night of sleep and eating a super yummy breakfast, we realized that we had no clue where the heck we were. You could see the mountains from the porch, there was farmland in every direction, no sign of human life, and I was asking myself if I had actually “found” Middle Earth. 

The owners of the B&B were very sweet people, so when we told them that we were longing for a day of adventure, they told us that we would love to visit Cades Cove. If you don’t know what Cades Cove is, it’s an isolated valley hidden deep within The Great Smoky Mountains. Lucky for us, it was only a twenty-minute drive away, and it was filled with beautiful waterfalls, creeks with mossy rocks, great overlooks, and nothing but the peaceful sounds of nature. 

“Happy Accidents”

In the end, I really don’t know why or how we stumbled upon that beautiful little B&B tucked away in the woods, but I sure am glad we did. I think this entire story can be summed up with a quote by my one of my favorite artists, Bob Ross. He always said, “We don’t make mistakes, we make happy accidents.” Having problems with the first B&B and finding Sweet Berries B&B in Maryville, Tennessee was definitely a “happy accident” that I will never forget.

Here are some cool photos from Cades Cove!

-Eric

This is one of many great overlooks along the winding road leading to Cades Cove.

This is one of many great overlooks along the winding road leading to Cades Cove.

This is Abrams Falls. The only way to see this peaceful scene is to hike over 5 miles into the Smoky Mountains. I promise it was worth it!

This is Abrams Falls. The only way to see this peaceful scene is to hike over 5 miles into the Smoky Mountains. I promise it was worth it!

This moss-ridden-creek is on the trail to Abrams Falls.

This moss-ridden-creek is on the trail to Abrams Falls.


 

The Historic/Haunted Oakland Cemetery

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Taking Photos In A Graveyard…

I’m not sure how many of you have had the privilege of visiting Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, but it is one of the coolest, creepiest, and most historic locations I have ever photographed. Being that I am obsessed with history, what intrigued me the most about Oakland Cemetery is the fact that it has so much history and character instilled within it’s 88 acres of myth and legend. Enjoy just a few of my favorite photos from my trip to Oakland.

 -Eric

This is the grand entrance of Oakland Cemetery. This entrance was also featured in Fast & Furious 7 during one of the funeral scenes.

This is the grand entrance of Oakland Cemetery. This entrance was also featured in the movie, Fast & Furious 7 during one of the funeral scenes.

This grave is known as

This grave is known as “The Ever Watchful Old Man Of Oakland Cemetery.” Legend has it, the old man’s head turns and follows people as they walk by. I love how the golden light was revealing all of the age and texture of this specific grave.

I named this photo,

I named this photo, “Enter The Labyrinth” because it reminded me of the talking door handles from the movie, Labyrinth with David Bowie. One of my favorite movies…


 

Autumn Night On The Lake

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The Magical Smell Of Autumn & My Sixth Sense

This was just one of those Autumn nights that I’ll always remember. I was at the lake hiking most of that day just enjoying the outdoors, and I wasn’t planning on staying for sunset since I was pretty tired from the 6 mile hike around the mountain. However, I had this odd feeling, and I like to think that I have this kind of “sixth sense” about the weather.

I started smelling the smoky air, I felt the sweet Autumn breeze on my face, and I just knew that everything was right in the world for a great sunset on the lake. As you can see, I did end up staying for sunset, and mother nature rewarded me with this photo. Moral of the story: “Always let your conscience be your guide.” 

-Eric


Majestic Dolphins Of Shell Island

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A Three Hour Tour

One of the coolest moments from my trip to Florida was when my dad and I hired a private charter to take us to a secret part of the infamous, Shell Island.

My dad’s favorite thing in the world is fishing, and If you told him that he had to fish for his food every day for the rest of his life, he would consider himself a lottery winner. Anyway, my dad is good friends with this fishing guide who told him about a “secret” part of Shell Island that no tourist charters know about. He claimed that the water and the sand on that part of the island were more beautiful than anything he had ever seen in the Caribbean. Well, he was right!

Majestic Dolphins

When we finally arrived to the “secret” part of the island, the scenery was just unbelievable! we saw sea turtles, tons of majestic dolphins swimming together, and the best part….no other humans around! 

I had to hang off the front of the boat on this windy day with my Nikon D810 and 70-200mm lens for about 30 minutes to get this shot, but it was so worth it! That entire private tour was a privilege to be on since I got to spend time with my dad, hear funny drunken stories from our crazy captain, and witness a small part of the natural beauty that the ocean has to offer. It would be pretty hard to find someone who loves the ocean more than me 🙂

-Eric


 

Firestorm

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Resist The Cliché Sunsets

Sunsets over large bodies of water can often be hard to photograph since it’s so cliché to have that “perfect” sunset photo that we have all seen a million times with the over saturated purple clouds, the orange sun reflecting on the sand, and the perfect silhouette of a seagull flying off into the sunset. While that sounds nice, I like to go against the grain and create art that stands out.

I always try to find interesting foreground elements to draw my viewer’s eyes right into the main subject matter of the photograph. If I can’t find a good foreground, I usually put on my telephoto lens and narrow my composition to focus in on one compelling portion of the scene. 

This sunset was one of those times where I could not find anything interesting to place in the foreground as a complimentary element. However, I decided to hang around past sunset just to see if any lasting colors would appear, and I was hoping something special would happen being that I was out there in the middle of a thunderstorm where colors can really pop out of nowhere at any minute.

Wide Or Telephoto? That Is The Question…

About 15 minutes after the sun had completely disappeared behind the horizon, the sky was lit on fire by some of the vibrant colors I have ever seen on location. There was just one problem: I still hadn’t found a good enough composition to make a good photo, but I knew I was on very limited time. I tried the only other option I had and snapped on my 70-200 lens to get a very simple composition of the colors without any distractions blocking the magic that was happening in the clouds.

In the end, it worked out quite nicely, and I also learned that simple compositions can easily be as powerful as huge landscape vistas with amazing foregrounds. I hope you all take something away from this experience like I did. 🙂

-Eric


Photokina 2016 New Cameras

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It’s Been Interesting So Far…

Ok, so this year’s Photokina has been great for Fuji with the new Medium format Mirrorless GFX, great for Panasonic with the new GH5, great for GoPro with their Hero 5 and Karma drone, decent for olympus with their new mirrorless “Pen” cameras, terrible for Sigma with their overpriced 500mm prime, terrible for Sony with their A99 II that 5 people will buy, and a little weird for Nikon with their Keymission action cameras…

karma-drone-and-fuji-gfx-graphic

My Two Favorites In More Detail

Fuji GFX Mirrorless Medium Format Camera:

I think that Fuji’s medium format camera will probably sell like hot cakes if the price is actually around the $6,000 USD mark. That price range will steal all of the potential Hasselblad X1D buyers who would be paying thousands more. I obviously can’t say how amazing the image quality will be until I have shot with it, but I will say Fuji has a pretty darn good track record 🙂

GoPro Hero 5 and Karma Drone:

I also think GoPro’s new Hero 5 looks pretty sweet, but the big attention stealer is their new Karma drone. I really think DJI might finally have a real competitor on the market now. The Karma looks very portable, easy to travel with, and I also love how the remote folds up like a laptop for even more portability. Again, I can’t speak on how stable or amazing this drone is until I test it, but it looks very promising compared to DJI’s biggest competitors like the 3DR Solo and the drones from Typhoon. Definitely looking forward to see how this plays out on the market.

nikon-keymission

Nikon, Why Did You Do This?

The only announcement that Nikon has brought the the table at Photokina so far are these new Keymission action cameras. While I’m sure they will operate fine, and some people will buy them, I think it was a mistake to launch these cameras at Photokina. This event only happens once every two years, and most camera companies bring their beast-mode cameras to the table at this event…but Nikon brought action cameras that are somewhat cool but will never compete with the sheer popularity and marketing genius of GoPro.

photo-plus-graphic

There’s Always Hope For PhotoPlus

I personally don’t think that Nikon will release anything else at Photokina this year, but I sure do hope I am wrong. However, they still have a chance to redeem themselves at PhotoPlus in October by finally giving us the D810 successor we have all been waiting for! In all honesty, Nikon has actually had a pretty great year with the release of the D5 and D500. In fact, I think the D500 is the best APS-C DSLR camera you can get! I’m just being a little tough on Nikon since I have been waiting quite a while for an upgrade to my beloved D810.

In conclusion, now that Nikon has taken care of people who want a fast camera like the D500, I hope they start taking care of people like me who want the unparalleled dynamic range, resolution, and image quality that I know Nikon can give us!

Let’s all stay positive and keep out hopes high!

-Eric


 

Nikon Announcement For Photokina 2016!

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Nikon Announcement!

With Photokina only 48 hours away, Nikon just posted on all of their social media that they have “news” for us tomorrow, September 19th, at 10am EST. This is really exciting! It finally confirms that Nikon is going to have a big reveal for Photokina. However, there are a ton of people wondering what exactly this “news” will be.

nikon-news-graphicHigh Hopes

If you follow my YouTube Channel or my blog, you probably already know that I am hoping for Nikon to drop the D810 successor tomorrow. It’s definitely no secret that thousands of Nikon users are hoping for this as well, but there is tons of speculation on what features will be packed into this camera. I will put a list below of the most common rumors and requests going around the interwebz as we speak 🙂

  • 42, 50, 72, 80, or 100 megapixels. (I think it will be between 60 and 70)
  • Dynamic range from the current 14.9 stops to the mid 15 range. (I would agree)
  • Button layout from the D5 with dedicated ISO button. (I would agree)
  • Touchscreen and snap-bridge from the D5/D500. (I would agree)
  • AF system from D5/D500. (I think it will be a different AF system but maybe better)
  • Completely different and smaller form factor. (I think it will be the same but without pop up flash)

Here is a video where I start some fun conversation about Photokina:

The Conclusion

At the end of the day, I will be a buyer of the D810 successor as long as they greatly improve the AF system and improve the dynamic range. I don’t have to have all of the other rumored features, but they would be a great bonus! In my closing sentence, I will advise you all to only purchase new camera equipment if it really helps and fits into your workflow…..or if you have tons of disposable income. 

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I can’t wait to chat about Nikon’s “news” tomorrow!

-Eric


 

Mill Of Middle Earth

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The Accidental Waterfall

This location was simply a joy to explore and photograph. It’s actually a little frustrating to blog about because it’s so hard to explain the pure and zen atmosphere of this place. It was very much like being in Middle Earth, hence the name of this photo. 

The cool history behind this magical little waterfall is that it was accidentally created due to years of mother nature beating the old stone that once contained the water. I guess some things just need to be set free, and I sure am glad I was able to capture it. 

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Mill Of Middle Earth”


Ascending To The Heavens

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Quadcopter Photography

I think this was one of the first really good sunsets I photographed with my quadcopter. I am still blown away by the technology and the ability to capture photos from hundreds of feet in the air with full control over ISO, shutter speed, and even HDR brackets!

The Sunset

I was on the ground shooting the sunset with my Nikon D810, and I just wasn’t quite getting the results I Wanted. I kept seeing these beautiful beams of light popping out of the clouds that were sitting in front of the setting sun. Years ago, I would have had to give up on the shoot or rush to another location before the sun went away, but all I had to do to remedy my compositional dilemma was simply send my quadcopter up to the perfect spot. 

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Ascending To The Heavens”


Cagney Class Locomotive

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Tellus Science Museum:

You all know I love photography and art, but most of you might not know that I love museums. It probably originated from the fact that my favorite subject in school was always history. I love reading books on ancient Egypt, lost treasures, The Freemasons, etc. I even followed in my great grandfather’s footsteps and joined The Freemasons myself. 

This photos is a 1905 Cagney Class E-steam Locomotive. What a wonderful piece of history and a great reminder of what real craftsmanship looks like. What is your favorite antique subject to photograph? Let’s chat in the comments!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Cagney Class E-Steam Locomotive”


 

Landscape Photo Vlog #2 And A Summer Sunset

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Chasing Down The Sunset!

I was super excited about shooting the sunset because we had some severe weather coming in. If you pay attention to the clouds as much as I do, you will start to notice that the best clouds and sunsets come right before and right after bad storms.

As you will see in the video, I had a little trouble chasing down the sunset, but I believe I captured a pretty good image in the end. I hope you all enjoy vlog #2!

The Photograph

Once I finally made it down this steep hill by the shore, I was able to find a good foreground for the composition. As you can see, I used the angles of the rocks to point the viewers right into the sunset. I ended up only having to post process one photo instead of blending the brackets because the mid-ground was not interesting enough to bring into light. 

I made a video explaining when and how to use HDR so that you don’t ever use HDR as a crutch when you’re having trouble finding a solid composition. You can watch that video HERE.

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Summer Sunset”

 


 

THANK YOU FOR 1,000 YOUTUBE SUBSCRIBERS!!

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The Finding Middle Earth Youtube Channel

Thank you all SO much for allowing my channel to reach ONE THOUSAND subscribers! There will be a lot more great content coming in the future, and I can’t wait to see the channel at ten thousand subscribers!

-Eric


 

The Daily Prophet

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Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

This photo is quite simple but makes me want to be on an adventure in the wizarding world, nonetheless. My wife and I are huge Harry Potter nerds, and we love simply hanging out in the theme park all day just soaking up the “mood” even if we don’t get to ride any rides. All we need is each other and some butter beer………and my camera of course 🙂

A quick photo tip for these extremely crowded places is to try the best you can to focus on the details. I say this because crowds can often prevent you from getting the great wide shots you want, so instead of adding 300 tourists to your portfolio photos, just look around for the details like this sign where you can zoom in and cut all of the people out. If you want even more FREE TIPS on theme park photography, check out the video I did with Matt from Art Of The Image where I give you all of my best tips for getting great photos in theme parks! CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO.

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “The Daily Prophet”


 

Google Nik Software Collection Now FREE

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Some Of The best Plugins Ever!

Ok, I am really excited about this post because Google actually did something really cool for the photography community yesterday! I will let you watch the video to get the full scoop, BUT……Google made their Nik Software Collection FREE for everyone! Merry Christmas in March!

-Eric

NEW VIDEO – “Google Announcement – Nik Software Collection Now FREE”


 

 

Desolation Comes Upon The Sky

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“We’re going to need a bigger umbrella”

Those of you who have been shooting with me before know that I LOVE shooting in bad weather. Storms make some of the most interesting and dramatic photographs you could wish for. However, being at the top of a mountain which took 2.74 miles of vertical hiking to reach was probably not the safest situation in these conditions. Nonetheless, the real threat of the sky and weather allowed me to capture this lovely and dramatic photograph. 

Even though I love shooting in bad weather, I do always prepare for these situations. I pack extra clothes, jackets, water, food, etc. Taking care of yourself is the most important aspect of photography adventures. You can’t be creative if you’re freezing and hungry.  If you would like to see how I pack my camera bag for these longer hikes, CLICK HERE.

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Desolation Comes Upon The Sky”


The Edge Of Night -Dedicated To My Late Grandfather

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A Dedication to my late grandfather, Frank Mosley…

I love shooting sunsets, but it can be very hard sometimes to find truly magical sunsets here in Georgia. What makes a sunset magical? Well, it takes a few elements that all have to come together at the same time. The clouds have to be the right size and texture in order for the colors to reflect off of them, the colors have to be the perfect mixture of orange/purple/pink, the sun can’t be covered by any clouds so that the warm golden light can kiss the surroundings, and THAT is what makes a magical sunset…


I found this location and captured this photograph 4 hours and 11 minutes before my grandfather passed away and went to heaven. THIS photo turned out to be the truly magical sunset that I very rarely get to see. Some might say that it’s just a coincidence….. I say that God opened up the sky in the most beautiful way to bring home one of the best men I ever had the pleasure of knowing and being able to call my grandfather.

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “The Edge Of Night”


 

Now Offering LIMITED EDITION PRINTS

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Purchase My Prints and have them shipped right to your door!

I have been working for quite a while on a very easy and innovative way for people to purchase my prints. I have partnered with one of the best print labs in the country, and they will now be handling all of the logistics for my prints. I also offer METAL PRINTS now which I am so excited about since it’s one of the most unique ways to display your art.

I am only selling a select set of my photos for print. You will notice on my new online gallery that I have a folder named “Limited Edition Prints” where I will periodically be switching out photos once I have sold a certain amount of one print. If you see a photo that is not for sale, just email me and I can tell you if/when it ever will be. Thanks so much and have fun looking over my new print gallery! SEE PRINT GALLERY HERE

-Eric


 

 

NEW Landscape Photography VLOG

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Landscape Photography Vlog #1

I have received quite a few requests over the past year to video document all of my photography hikes and adventures in order for all of you to see my process from start-to-finish. After researching the best way for me to vlog my adventures while delivering quality video production, I decided to finally purchase a full GoPro rig to handle all of my my on-location vlogging.

As per your requests, here is the the FIRST Landscape Photography VLOG. I hope you all enjoy!

-Eric


 

Landscape Photography Vlog #1


 

Inside The Hogwarts Express

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Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Ok, who doesn’t love Harry Potter? Let’s be honest… My wife and I are big kids, and we visit Disney World and Universal studios typically two or three times a year. That should explain why so much of my portfolio is filled with theme park photography 🙂

I took this photo of the Hogwarts Express when they stopped the train and everyone was getting off to rome around Hogsmeade. I had to ride the train three times to get one of the employees to finally let me stay on for an extra few minutes to take the shot! When there is a good photo to be had, I never give up!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Inside Of The Hogwarts Express”


 

Nikon D5 vs D500 – Possible D850/D900 Coming Soon?

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Nikon’s NEW DSLRs

If you follow my videos, you will know that my primary and favorite camera is the Nikon D810. I absolutely love the high resolution files that come out of that camera! However, with Canon pushing out a 50 megapixel camera and Sony pushing out their 42 megapixel camera, I can’t help but wonder if Nikon is going to fight back soon in this megapixel war.

I understand that a lot of people whine and moan about megapixels when they never actually need the crazy resolution, but I will ride with megapixel-pony all day long since my clients want large gallery prints. I would love for you to check out my video below where I discuss all of these topics while comparing the new Nikon D5 and D500. Enjoy!

-Eric

NEW VIDEO – Nikon D5 vs D500- Possible D820/D900 Coming Soon?


 

The Comforts Of Home

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The Sunrise With No Color

I am all about getting up at the crack of dawn if it means I get to be in the silence of nature with my camera. My dad called me on a Friday evening and said, “Eric, I know you love shooting sunrises, and I know of this really cool farm that sits in between two mountains. Want to go tomorrow?” Well, how could I have turned him down after hearing about a pretty farm, mountains, and sunrise? 

Here is where the story takes a bit of a turn… We got up at 4am, traveled to the road where the farm was, checked our weather apps and made sure there was still no rain in the forecast, and then waited for the sun. Well, I spent 25 minutes scouting for the best spot to shoot from, I set up my tripod, put on my polarizer so the warm side lighting from the sunrise would look perfect, and then…… No colors, tons of cloud coverage, and it was getting brighter by the minute. We both agreed that the farm location was a bust for sunrise that day due to the clouds and grey atmosphere. However, the Weather Channel still said 0% chance of anything with clear skies…

Last Minute Panorama

Right before we packed up and decided to climb the mountain for another perspective, I made the random decision to shoot a series of photos that I later stitched into the panorama you see below. I didn’t realize how much I would love this shot until I got home and started post processing it. This just goes to show that you should always try to make the best out of any location. Sure, I didn’t get my epic sunrise with beautiful colors, but I  got one of the most impactful black and whites I’ve ever shot. Spend 80% of your time scouting the location for interesting compositions and the other 20% making the photographs. 

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “The Comforts Of Home”


 

Italy – Portraits Around The World

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Epcot | Torino, Italy | Andrea

I am finally releasing the next photo from my “Portraits Around The World” series! I am very sorry that it has taken so long to get this one published. I have been working extremely hard for the last few months to produce a three hour video tutorial series that covers mastering your camera, organizing your photos, and backing up your photos. I just finished the tutorial last week, and you can purchase it HERE if you are interested.

Andrea, the man in the photo, ended up being a very fun person to carry on a conversation with. He was very serious but comical at the same time. He spent some time telling me all about growing up in Torino, Italy and made me promise that I would visit since I love taking photos. It was cool to see how his whole demeanor changed once I started asking him about things that he was comfortable talking about. It’s always a good idea to put your subject in THEIR comfort zone before asking them for a photo.

As promised, here is another video where I  explain how I captured this photo and how I approached the subject. Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Portraits Around The World | Andrea”

Andrea_PATW Italy_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

VIDEO Breakdown


 

Garden Of Illuminations

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Illuminations At Epcot

I captured this one on my last night in Disney World watching the Illumination show in Epcot. While the general public was fighting over a front row spot by the water to get photos of the show, I was interested in capturing how the LIGHT was going to play off some of the surrounding villages. I know I say this all the time, but light is everything when it comes to photography.

I found this cool little village with a garden in the middle that I took photos from during the show while waiting for the unpredictable  fireworks to cast some warm/contrasty light onto the village. After sorting through the photos and comparing how the light effected each one, I decided on this one. Enjoy!

-Eric


 NEW PHOTO – “Garden Of Illuminations”

 


 

 

The Journey Home

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Sope Creek

I have hiked Sope Creek three times now with my good friend and fellow photographer, Joseph Wood from Favortied.xyz, and it seems like we step into a different realm every time we’re there. The weather changed from sunny blue skies to tornado warnings in two seconds the last time we were there, and we got completely soaked. 

After the rain and crazy winds finally stopped, we made our way back down to the creek, and that is when I captured the photo below. Right after a bad storm passes when all of the foliage and trees are really wet, THAT is when you get the colors that start to “pop” and add an ethereal look to the photograph. However, always make sure to use your polarizer when you’re shooting wet surfaces to mitigate the terrible glare and refections that happen. 

One of my favorite aspects of photography is that one scene can look completely different based simply on how mother nature decides to react. When it comes to photography, light is everything…

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “The Journey Home”


 

Autopocalypse – Old Car City Part #4

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Old Car City Part #4

I took this photo to give everyone a small idea of just how many cars are sitting and rusting away at Old Car City.  This panorama is made up of 9 photos that I stitched together for this unique perspective of one of the main walkways through the salvage yard. Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Autopocalypse”


 

Grease Is The Word – Old Car City Part #3

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Old Car City Part #3

During my visit at Old Car City, I realized just how hard it was to choose what would make a good photograph amongst all the junk.  Keep in mind that the point of a photograph is to pull the viewer into the composition in order to tell a story or convey a feeling.  Doing that can be very hard if you try to fit everything around you into one single photograph.  

You should analyze the scene and make sure that you’re focusing on all the details that caught your eye to begin with.  As you can see from this being my third photo of Old Car City, it is perfectly fine to take multiple shots if it helps convey the story of your scene in a more captivating way for your viewers. 

I hope that helps you next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re overwhelmed and can’t make up your mind on where to start shooting. 

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Grease Is The Word”

 


Loyal To A Fault – Old Car City Part #2

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Old Car City Part #2

I am 100% serious when I say that there are endless photo opportunities at Car City! I was honestly like a kid seeing Disney World for the first time. My dad and I wondered around for a couple of hours and still didn’t see even half of the cars that are sitting there just waiting for someone to come along and make  inspiring art out of the rusty ruins.

What caught my eye about this old truck was the crazy amount of broken glass, the green moss growing from the dashboard, and the odd shaped textures that were all over the truck. This truck just had so much “character” compared to all of the other ones sitting around it, and the way I decided to compose this shot even gives off a bit of a post-apocalyptic feel to this photo. This place is nothing short of an automotive cemetery…… and photography paradise  😉 

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Loyal To A Fault”


 

Forgotten Over Time – Old Car City Part #1

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Old Car City 

My dad and I are the adventurous people in my family.  We love spending days driving around and exploring places that most humans don’t visit.  Well, we were exploring a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon this cool little shack on the side of the road with a big “Old Car City” sign.  As soon as we saw it, we knew that we had to go back the next weekend to dedicate a whole day to this crazy looking place.

When I got home from the day of exploring, I looked up Old Car City on Google, and I was immediately hooked based on all the photos I saw on their website.  The place has 4400 classic cars that have been rotting and rusting since the 1930s. Anything that has been rotting away for that many years is a photographer’s cup of tea.  Enjoy this photo I took of an old Ford truck that has so much rust and character, it should be considered art 🙂

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Forgotten Over Time”


Disney’s Wishes Fireworks Show

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Wishes Fireworks Show & Avoiding Death-By-Crowds

It can be really tough to capture good photos of the Wishes fireworks show in Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  My best piece advice would be to show up EARLY, get your tripod and camera in a good spot, and don’t move one inch until the show is over.

While Disney is truly a magical place, unfortunately, the people are not the same. If you don’t show up early and try to secure a spot for the fireworks, I can almost promise you that someone will pick a fight with you while you’re walking through the crowds trying to find a last-minute spot. You would be surprised at how many parents in Disney act more childish than their own children. I’ve seen it too many times so just trust me on this one 🙂

The Wishes fireworks show is one of the coolest shows I have seen in any theme park, so I definitely encourage everyone to bring their cameras and go see it! Enjoy! 

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Wishes Fireworks Show”

Disney's Wishes_Web-Optimized


 

You Shall Not Pass

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A Day Of Exploring…

At any given time, I typically have a huge list of places and hikes that I want to go on for photo opportunities. However, sometimes it’s nice to leave the list behind, jump in the car with all my gear, and just explore random places. Well, that is exactly how I found this old bridge that was built in the late 1800s, and It was in the middle of nowhere in a small town called Euharlee, Georgia.

I want this photograph to encourage all of my readers to get outside and shoot as often as you all can! You never know what cool places are out there waiting to be photographed if you don’t go searching for them. If you want a cool place to take photos, go and find one :-).

 It all goes back to the wise words of Indiana Jones when he said, “In order to be a great archaeologist, you have to get out of the library.”

-Eric


 

Escape From GRINGOTTS

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Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Most of my followers know that I love photographing theme parks anytime I get the chance. This trip back in September of 2015 was the first time I was able to photograph the infamous, Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside of Universal Studios.  

I grew up with the Harry Potter movies and have always been a huge fan. It’s only a dream come true to see what Universal has created for their guests, and I can’t even explain how excited and anxious I was to start making photos of that awesome place! 

This photo was taken in Diagon Alley with the dragon blowing fire on top of Gringotts bank. I waited forever to time the photo perfectly with the big ball of fire coming out of the dragon’s mouth, and I finally nailed the shot! I hope you all enjoy!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Escape From GRINGOTTS”


 

Symbol Of Hope

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Sweetwater Creek 

I love going to Sweetwater Creek right after a few days of constant rain! As you can see in this photo, the water is moving crazy fast for a creek that is normally calm enough to walk across in sandals. I was there hiking and shooting with my good friend Joseph, and we found a possible but not-so-safe way to set up our cameras on a rock that was inches from the rushing water. Yes, I may have almost fallen into the water a couple of times on the way down to the rocks, but I got a great photograph out of it. 

I highly recommend visiting Sweewater Creek if you like to hike, take photos, or just enjoy being outdoors in a beautiful place. Also, a little “fun fact” about Sweetwater Creek that a lot of people don’t know is that quite a few scenes for the third Hunger Games movie were filmed all along the creek and the mill. Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Symbol Of Hope”


 

The Silent Observer

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Creatures Of The Forest

Out of all the woodland creatures, owls have always been the most mysterious to me… It’s always fascinated me that owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees due to their fourteen neck vertebrae compared to the seven that humans have. They are so beautiful, and looking into their eyes can be quite mesmerizing! I have only seen one a handful of times in my life, and it never gets any less amazing to study and photograph them. 

Depending on the reaction I get from all of you, I might make this a limited edition print. Hope you enjoy this one!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “The Silent Observer”


 

Why Is The Rum Gone

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Photography & Seafood Adventures 

This photo was taken on a super fun adventure that me, my dad, and my brother went on while we were vacationing in Panama City Beach.  My dad knows that I am obsessed with seafood and taking photos, so he wanted to take my brother and I on a day-trip to Apalachicola, Florida where they have the best oysters in the world.  I had never been to Apalachicola before so I was really excited to embark on a day of adventure, seafood, and photography!

It was a beautiful drive from Panama City Beach to Apalachicola!  We stopped probably ten times along the way for me to take photos and for us to try different seafood of course.  I took a lot of photos that day for documentary purposes, but the one I ended up using for my portfolio was the photo you see below of the abandoned ship consumed by sand.  I saw the boat as we were crossing the bridge to enter St. George Island, and I immediately asked my dad to find a place where we could pull off the road and hike to it.  Without going into detail, it was quite a difficult process hiking down to the ship due to things like high tide, steep hills, slippery rocks, etc. However, it was all worth it once I saw the immediate result on the back of my camera.  It was an awesome location for photos!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Why Is The Rum Gone”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Photography Video Tutorial

I made a quick video while I was photographing boat to show everyone how I helped mother nature out a little by adding an element from my surroundings into the shot for a stunning final composition.  If you have any questions at all or simply want to talk about seafood, lets chat in the comments!

NEW VIDEO – Landscape Photography Tutorial – Abandoned Boat


 

Mulei The Woodcarver

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Mulei From Kenya, Africa

While trying to avoid a big parade in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I noticed this old man sitting behind a hut carving animal faces into small pieces of wood.  Now, I’ve been to Animal Kingdom probably a hundred times, and I have never seen people selling woodcarvings.  I was on the way to try and catch a show on the other side of the park, but I missed the show because I was so intrigued with watching this man so laser focused on his carvings…

I obviously wanted to capture a photo of him, but it was so hard deciding how I wanted to set up the composition.  I wanted to encapsulate the cool “feeling” of this scene into one single photograph.  You will notice in the photo that I only captured his hands.  As a photographer, you have to think about how you are going to convey emotion to your viewers.  Sure, I could have taken a wide angle shot of the whole scene, but I wanted to create a visual representation of the emotion and excitement that I was feeling while watching him work his craft.  Think about that next time you take a photo 🙂

In conclusion, I approached him and made some small talk after taking the photo of his hands. I found out that his name is Mulei, he is obsessed with tigers like me, and he started woodcarving with his father over 40 years ago when he was a child growing up in Kenya, Africa.  It was a cool moment in time to be a part of, and I even walked away with a cool photo! 

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Mulei The Woodcarver”


 

The Grey Havens

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Lake Allatoona

Sunsets will forever be in every photographer’s portfolio.  HOWEVER, due to the high volume of sunsets all over the web, I only like to capture the really unique ones.  In my opinion, the uniqueness of a sunset is all in the texture and shape of the clouds.  You may notice while browsing through my portfolio that most all of my sunsets have really interesting clouds or colors.  I do this because most viewers don’t get impressed when looking at a sunset that they have seen a million times on every travel blog, post card, or website.  Keep that in mind when you plan to capture certain scenes.

I visit Lake Allatoona anywhere from 2 to 5 days per week waiting for the “perfect” sunset to come along.  Yes, I have thousands of sunset photos that I have never even processed because they don’t have that “unique” quality that I look for.  I may be too much of of a perfectionist sometimes, but I also know that in order for my work to inspire others……it has to inspire me first.  Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “The Grey Havens”


 

The Woodland Realm

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Anna Ruby Falls – Random Trail

I typically don’t like to photograph “iconic” places that have been photographed a million times, but I decided to visit Anna Ruby Falls anyway since it was less than two miles from where I was camping with my grandfather.  Well, I was so glad that I decided to visit because I found this random trail that was way to the right of the falls(where everyone else was)that was so narrow and looked like it was strictly a biking trail at one point.  Basically, the trail looked like it hadn’t trekked for a long time.  

After navigating the trail for a few miles and clearing it of overgrown foliage, I was starting to wonder if I should turn around….. until I stumbled upon this really etherial creek with big mossy rocks surrounded in beautiful greenery.  It was much prettier than the actual Anna Ruby Falls that so many people travel to see.  I love hiking off the beaten path to find my photos because it makes me feel like I really earned the shot!  This was one of those rewarding moments…  I hope you enjoy looking at this one as much as I enjoyed being there. 

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “The Woodland Realm”


 

Disney World Photography Post Processing #2

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Video Tutorial 

After loads of people asking how I give my photos a magical and etherial look, I made a video on how I post processed one of my most popular Disney photos.  I hope you all enjoy it!

-Eric

NEW VIDEO – Disney World Photography Post Processing #2


 

Happy New Year With A NEW VIDEO

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Art Of The Image

I was honored this week to be featured on the Art Of The Image youtube channel and website. I was asked to speak on my top tips for theme park photography. I have never spoken on this topic before, but how could I turn down the opportunity to be on this awesome photography show? I have posted the link to the video below, and I hope you all enjoy it!I was honored this week to be featured on the Art Of The Image youtube channel and website.  I was asked to speak on my top tips for theme park photography.  I have never spoken on this topic before, but how could I turn down the opportunity to be on this awesome photography show?  I have posted the link to the video below, and I hope you all enjoy it!

-Eric

NEW VIDEO – Theme Park Photography Tips


 

Merry Christmas To All

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NEW PHOTO – “Harambe Christmas”

My wife and I were in Disney World for an entire week around the holidays last year, so I thought I would share a cool photo I took on our trip.  We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Resort which was beautifully decorated for Christmas!  As you can see in the photo below, the lobby had this unbelievable Christmas tree that was one of the largest and most extravagant I have ever seen!  The problem was, it was so beautiful that hundreds of people were constantly waiting to take photos of their families in front of the tree.  Well, even indoor photography involves knowing exactly when the best time to shoot is.  Unfortunately, the only time I could get a photo with no people  around was at 3am…

I waited in the hotel room trying my best to stay awake after a long day at the parks and finally got the perfect shot in the middle of the night with no one around.  Even the guy that was waxing the flowers offered to move out of my way for a few photos as long as I promised to show him the results.  Everything came together perfectly, and I even gained a new fan(floor wax guy).  

ALWAYS be willing to take risks!  As you can see, sometimes it’s worth it.  Merry Christmas and thank you ALL for the continued support!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Harambe Christmas”


 

One Man’s Dream

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The infamous, Magic Kingdom:

I waited a long time to get this shot with as few people in it as possible.  After hanging around for an hour after closing time, I finally got an opportune moment to capture the epic “Walt and Mickey” shot.  I took quite a few exposures here so that I could really capture the magical glow effect of Cinderella’s Castle.  I wanted this photo to look very etherial since Walt was all about living in a world of dreams, so I hope you all enjoy looking at this one as much as I enjoyed taking it. 

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “One Man’s Dream”


Textures Of Morocco

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Capturing The Essence Of Morocco

The streets of Morocco are filled with all sorts of interesting architecture.  As a photographer, I see the world differently from most people.  Most people view the “big picture” of a beautiful scene, but my eyes always notice the fine details.  In this case, textures!  I am oddly obsessed with studying different textures.  Might sound strange… However, if Morocco’s market places weren’t filled with gritty walls and cracked roads, I would have never been inspired to create this photograph.  Enjoy!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO –  “Textures Of Morocco”


 

When You Wish Upon A Star

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NEW DISNEY PHOTO!

Just incase you all haven’t noticed yet, I absolutely love taking photos all over Disney World! 

There is just something so special about taking photos in Disney.  I feel so creative and free when I’m there.  As adults, we often hold back certain emotions, feelings, and creativity that was so easy for us to express when we were children.  The reason I love art so much is because it’s the perfect platform for me to express all of those feelings as often as I want!  Art/photography is an outward expression of the creator and should never be taken too seriously.  Every time I capture and post process photos, I do it ALL unapologetically.  What I mean by that is that there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to create art.   Every person will create it in a different way…  Some will use art to find themselves, and some will turn out like Thomas Kinkade who always used art to enrich the lives of others…

Always follow your dreams

-Eric

 NEW DISNEY PHOTO – “When You Wish Upon A Star”


 

The Ethereal Woodlands

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I “Found” Middle Earth!

I took this photo a few weeks ago when the Fall colors were at their best, and I had no idea what I had captured until I came back and saw this on my computer.  What’s funny is that before I took this photo, I spent 45 minutes setting up another cool shot that I thought would be amazing but didn’t turn out so cool.  On the hike back to the car is when I saw this patch of the forest that had these crazy colored leaves that you see in the scene.   I had to climb half way up a rocky hill to capture this, but I am very glad I did! 

If you are a Lord of The Rings nut like me, this photo might remind you of the elven forest of Lothlórien.  I had so much fun post processing this photo. It put me in such a great mood…

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “The Ethereal Woodlands”


How To Take Better Family Photos For The Holidays

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Pop-Up Flash Is The Grinch

Hello!  I hope everyone is having a magical evening on this lovely “eve” of Thanksgiving!  First, I want to tell everyone how truly thankful and blessed I am to have fans and supporters of my artistic life adventures here on The Finding Middle Earth Photography Blog!  You are all very important to me, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families.

Instead of a quick “Happy Thanksgiving” video, I wanted to provide a cool tip that might help you all when trying to take family photos this Thanksgiving and Christmas.  You might find the tip a little goofy, but I promise it works wonders on the quality of your photos.  Enjoy The video below!

-Eric

NEW VIDEO: How To Take Better Family Photos For The Holidays


Sony A7r II Autofocus Speed Test Results

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Huge Improvement Or Huge Disappointment? 

I spent three straight weeks testing every new feature on the Sony A7r II in many different shooting conditions.  I should start by saying that I personally shoot Nikon, but I did my absolute best to give Sony a fair chance in replacing my DSLR system.  Unfortunately, the Sony system was not as good as Sony made it out to be.  However, it is still a wonderful camera with a lot of killer features, and my decision to continue shooting Nikon was based on my type of shooting only.  It could very well be the perfect camera for someone else.  I will be making a video SOON explaining in detail why the new Sony A7r II did not impress me enough to switch. 

As for the Autofocus, that feature really did impress me!  It is worlds faster than the original Sony A7r but not quite as fast as cameras like the Canon 5D III and Nikon D810.  Check out the quick video I made below which will show you how fast the A7r II can focus on objects from infinity to just a few inches away.  .  Hope this helps everyone!

-Eric

 VIDEO: Sony A7r II Autofocus Speed Test


 

England – Portraits Around The World

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Epcot | York, England | Harry

Here it is, folks!  I am super excited to release the second photo in my Portraits Around The World photo series! 

The subject’s name was Harry, and he was a really cool and nerdy guy…which I loved of course.  We hit it off pretty quick once we discovered that we’re both die hard Star Wars fans.  We spent about 10 minutes talking about nerdy stuff before I asked him for a photo, and you will see where the scenario goes from there when you watch the video below.  Can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts!

-Eric 

NEW PHOTO – Portraits Around The World | Harry From England 

Harry_PATW England_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

VIDEO BREAKDOWN


 

Reflections Of Autumn

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Allatoona Pass At Sunset

Autumn is my favorite time of year to explore new photographic locations.  The colors, the smell in the air, and the perfect weather is so inspiring.  I captured this photograph at Allatoona Pass Battlefield which is a hidden gem in the little lake-town that I live in.  Allatoona Pass has tons of small peninsulas that provide great vantage points for secluded parts of the lake, and it’s a dream for photographers like me. 

As you can see in this photograph, I found the perfect spot where the sunset hits the mountain with that perfect warm side-lighting that accentuates the beautiful Autumn colors.  The magic of Golden Hour paired with the right scene and composition is what gives the “fairytale” look to a lot of my photos that people often ask me about.

Photography is all about learning how to bend the light to your will.  

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Reflections Of Autumn”

 


 

Amicalola Falls Sunset

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Luck Of The Irish

Any outdoor photographer will tell you that making the perfect photograph is around 90% skill and 10% luck.  The 10% aspect is all about what mother nature decides to unleash.  The right clouds, the right color tones in the sky, and most important, the light…Well, this particular moment in time was almost all luck, and there is nothing wrong with that!  It’s always good to have the perfect elements come together when you’re trying to capture a great photograph.

This beautiful scene was at the very top of Amicalola Falls overlooking The Smoky Mountains.  I was actually there shooting a wedding with a friend and saw this after doing some sunset photos with the bride and groom.  Lucky for me, the guy I was shooting the wedding with knows that I am a maniac for landscape photography, so he covered me for 10 minutes while I got this photo for my portfolio.  I hope you all enjoy it!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Amicalola Falls Sunset”

Amicalola Falls Sunset_Web Optimized


 

Autumn On Disney’s Mainstreet

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The Magic Kingdom

Ok, so I know this might sound really cheesy, BUT Disney’s Magic Kingdom really is magical… I get so wrapped up in the magic every time I get a chance to photograph this park.  I love all of the brilliant light that gives that warm glow down Mainstreet. 

Every time I take a photo, I try to capture a scene that gives off a specific mood that makes viewers want to be in the scene.  That being said, I love looking at this one and wishing I was in one of the shops where all the happy Disney employees are waiting to greet people. 

Where are some of YOUR favorite places to take photos in Disney World??

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Autumn On Disney’s Mainstreet”


China – Portraits Around The World

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Epcot | Hong Kong, China | Rebecca Pik Kei Wong

I am SO excited to finally kick off my “Portraits Around The World” photo series!  

This really sweet Chinese girl in the photo is Rebecca Pik Kei Wong.  While visiting each country in Epcot, I walked around for at least half an hour looking for the perfect person to ask about taking their photo.  Lets go ahead and get your thoughts out of the way… yes, that last sentence makes me sound like a total creeper.  However, there really is an art to choosing the perfect person to take a portrait of.  I look for someone who will make eye contact with me, someone with a sweet smile, someone who looks approachable, etc.

When you approach random people and ask to take their photo, there is another form of art involved.  You have to be great at building fast relationships based on trust.  I say this because this day in time, random dudes with cameras asking people for a photo can be looked at as very sketchy or uncomfortable.  I have made a video that goes along with each photo in this series where I explain exactly how I handled each situation.  I go over how I approached each person, the words I chose to use while asking for a photo, and I will share some cool facts that I learned about each person I photographed.

I really hope you all enjoy these photos, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – Portraits Around The World | Rebecca Pik Kei Wong

Pik Kei PATW Watermarked_Web Optimized________________________________________________________________________________________________

VIDEO Breakdown


 

Harry Potter: Borgin And Burkes

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The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Any HARRY POTTER FANS out there?!?!?!? You will love this! My wife and I recently went on vacation to Disney and Universal. I have photographed Disney quite a few times, but I have never had the chance to photograph the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter… until now that is…

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo, feel free to contact me HERE

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Borgin And Burkes”


The Secret Tree

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Living In A Lake Town

I live in a quaint little “lake town” called Acworth, Georgia.  There is a great hidden park right on the lake that has these awesome looking trees like the one you see in the photo.  I was actually there shooting the sunset and saw that the sun was rim lighting the tree in a very cool way.  I immediately stopped shooting the sunset so I could capture a few photos of the tree while the light was so compelling.

Always Remember that a great photo is all about the light… and a few other things…

Photographers are creatures of the light.  We get up before the sun rises and keep shooting after the sun sets. 

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “The Secret Tree”


 

Tokyo Under The Stars

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Epcot’s World Showcase

I took this photo on three separate nights while we were in Disney.  I do this often with my photos if I am able to since the sky, colors, and overall light around the scene can change so much over a few days.  

As you can see in this photo, there is a clear night sky with beautiful stars shining through.  This was my third attempt at shooting this photo.  If there is ONE thing I want you all to take from this blog post, it’s to always remember that you don’t have to publish every photo you take.  I know it’s hard when you spend hours driving somewhere and then even more time hiking to a location just to come back with a mediocre photograph.  That doesn’t mean that your trip was a waste.  The reason why I love being an outdoor photographer is because I love the outdoors…. It’s as simple as that.  If I can’t make a great photo out of a scene that I spent time hiking to, I still have a blast taking in the natural beauty of this awesome planet we live on!  I consider what I do to be very rewarding…

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Tokyo Under The Stars”


 

Learn How To GEOTAG Your Photos

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Geotagging With Adobe Lightroom

After talking with and observing many other photographers, I learned a few things:  There are a lot of photography professionals and enthusiasts out there that do not geotag their photos, and a lot of them have never even opened the “Map Module” inside of Adobe Lightroom.  Needless to say, I wanted to make a quick video to show everyone how and why I geotag my photos!  It sounds really hard, but I promise I go slow enough in this video for you to see every single step in my geotagging workflow.  

I hope you all enjoy the video!

-Eric

 NEW VIDEO – “GEOTAGGING YOUR PHOTOS WITH ADOBE LIGHTROOM”


 

To Infinity And Beyond

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Cray Cray Clouds

I was tracking the weather and heard that there was a bad storm moving into my area.  Anytime that happens, it means there could be some serious opportunities to capture a great photo!  Well, I packed up and drove to the lake to wait for the storm to develop.  It took about an hour of waiting, but I finally started seeing tons of crazy clouds streaking over the sky with really fast movement.

Only one thing came to mind when I started seeing how fast the clouds were moving….LONG EXPOSURE!  For those who don’t know what that is, it means that  the camera is set up on a tripod with the shutter left open for 30 seconds or longer.  When you leave the shutter open that long, everything stationary remains in focus, and anything that is moving creates motion blur.  That is why the log and tree line are in focus, but the clouds are large blurry streaks.  Enjoy!

-Eric 

 NEW PHOTO – “To Infinity And Beyond”


 

A New Beginning

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Last Minute Photo

It was the last day of our vacation in Panama City Beach, and I spotted this sailboat in the distance as we were all about to leave the condo.  I immediately unpacked my camera bag so I could capture this cool scene!

 

I love how simple this photo is.  It’s apparent that the main subject is the white boat, but the surrounding ocean with no land in sight ties everything together.  As a viewer, I look at this photo and feel a sense of adventure, mystery, seclusion, peace, etc.  I hope you all enjoy this one!

Let me know if you would like a limited edition print.  Thanks!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “A New Beginning”


 

Story Of The Homeless Guitar Guy

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The Story

About a year and a half ago, I was in Chattanooga, TN for a few hours with my wife and in-laws taking in some of the beautiful sights in the city.  As we were walking past the Chattanooga Aquarium, I saw this very cool looking man on the sidewalk playing an old guitar.  There were quite a few homeless men making loud noises with various instruments, but this particular man caught my attention and was actually quite good at playing.

As always, I had my camera with me for some street photography, so I snapped a quick shot of him and didn’t think much of it….until later that is.  When I got home from the trip and started post processing all of the photos, I could NOT stop staring at the photo I took of that one man playing guitar.  There was such a story hiding behind his eyes, and the way he was looking at the camera really pulled me in.

After falling in love with this photo and realizing how oddly photogenic this random man was, I couldn’t wait to publish this piece to see if all of my viewers felt the same way.  Well, I can tell you after gathering all of the data from the various websites and galleries I featured this photo on, it received over FOURTY THOUSAND views in such a crazy short amount of time.  As you can imagine, the hype around this photo blew my mind and took me by complete surprise.

Shortly after I learned about all the attention this photo was getting, I told myself that I HAD to go back to Chattanooga in order to introduce myself to the man and give him a print of the photo.  Call me weird, but this piece just didn’t feel “complete” until I personally delivered a print to this man that had brought so much attention and joy to my website.

I specifically planned to spend my birthday in Chattanooga a few months later.  I made a beautiful print and kept wondering what I was going to say to the man when I approached him.  Well, we drove to the street where I saw him months before and walked around the whole town looking for him, but we just couldn’t find him.  I didn’t tell my wife and family, but I was SO disappointed and wondering if I would ever get “closure” on this project.  I know it sounds weird, but I couldn’t stand the fact that this image had brought so many new viewers to my website, and the star of the show(guitar guy)had absolutely no clue.  I saw a Chattanooga Aquarium employee walking toward me not far from where I took the photo, so I asked him if he was familiar with the man in the print that I was holding.  The aquarium employee knew exactly who I was talking about and said, “I’m not sure where he is today.  I haven’t seen him for a few days actually, but he is an icon here in Chattanooga. Everyone knows who he is.”  Now I was even more intrigued with this guy being that he is homeless, plays guitar on the sidewalk, and the aquarium employee just described him as an icon?  It slowly started to make sense because he is the only homeless man I have ever seen that had such a positive, inspiring, and happy spirit about him.  Those are probably the reasons I felt compelled to photograph him so many months ago. I had an awesome birthday in Chattanooga, but I was never able to find the man and give him the print…

Nineteen days later, I got the chance to go to Chattanooga again for a quick trip.  The second we got to the end of Broad street in downtown…..there he was playing his guitar with a big smile on his face.  I couldn’t even explain the excitement that jolted through me.  As I was approaching him to give him the print, I noticed he was saying “happy summer time” to every single person that walked by.  I walked up, introduced myself as a photographer from Atlanta, and I showed him the print.  His facial expression said it all when I revealed the print to him, and he didn’t even know it was for him to keep. Ha! He even looked at me and said, “for me??”  It was a very short and simple moment we had together, but I could tell he loved the print.  I finally felt accomplished with this image and walked away with a peaceful relief.  He even let me take another portrait of him, but this time he gave me a great big smile since he knew I was shooting him.  What a cool guy…

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this story, and I hope you enjoy looking at both of the images I took below. 

-Eric

 PHOTO #1  “Homeless Musician”

Homeless Musician_For Blog Post

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 PHOTO #2  “Reunited And It Feels So Good”

Reunited And It Feels So Good


 

Sony A7r II Unboxing!

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Sony A7r II

My NEW Sony A7r Mark II just arrived, and I made a quick video below of the unboxing and first impressions.  This camera is truly an unbelievable tool.  Enjoy!

-Eric

SONY A7RII UNBOXING


 

NEW PROJECT – Portraits Around The World

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Epcot’s World Showcase

You’re probably wondering what my new project is all about!  Well, my wife and I just recently got back from spending a week in Disney World.  When I was driving us there, I had 7 hours to think of this interesting idea………

 I always take photos while I’m in Disney, but 99% of my work is typically of iconic rides, fireworks, and cool architecture.  While I believe that all of my photos have a signature look, there are still so many people that take photos of Disney architecture.  I just wanted to do something different….something special.  As I started throwing ideas around in my head, I knew that I wanted my special project to involve Epcot.  Well, one thing lead to another, and I had this idea to do “Portraits Around The World” in Epcot’s World Showcase.  For those who don’t know what that is, Epcot has a huge section of their park dedicated to replicating many different countries around the world.

Portraits Around The World

Now that you know how the idea came about, I will explain.  Disney requires that each country in Epcot only hires employees that were born in the country they are working in.  That is how Disney keeps everything super authentic.  That being said, I put myself on a mission to take a compelling portrait of  an employee or group of employees from each country in Epcot.  I thought the mix of culture would be really cool to see!  Now you see why I named the project the way I did.  I knew it would be a cool idea the moment it came to me, and I hope you all like it as well!  I think it will be a really unique series of images!

Conclusion And What’s To Come

I will release the first portrait of the series in a couple of weeks, and I will make a quick video that goes with each portrait.  Each video will explain how I got the photo, how I chose which person to photograph, and I will share some cool info about each person.  The key to getting a great portrait of someone you don’t know is to build a quick relationship and earn their trust.  You will be amazed at how much better your portraits look when your subject opens up!   Thank you all so much for the continued support, and I can’t wait for you to see the portraits! 

PATW Episode #1: CLICK HERE

PATW Episode #2: CLICK HERE

PATW Episode #3: CLICK HERE

-Eric

Epcot Portraits Around The World


 

Apology For My Lack Of Content – I’m Sick

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Allegra, Lemon Drops, Water, And LOTS Of Kleenex…

Eric Is Sick Graphic

Well, the heading pretty much sums up my life this past week.  For those who don’t know me, I spend a lot of time and effort making sure I don’t get sick.  I take a fair amount of vitamins on a daily basis, I try to eat fruit every day, and I almost always cover my mouth around anyone I see coughing/sneezing.  I am obsessed with the outdoors and photographing the outdoors, so I hate anything that prevents me from doing that.

 

A Quick Summary Of The Week

When my wife and I got home from our trip to Disney World last Sunday, I started feeling tired and congested.  The next morning, I woke up with a fever and a terribly soar throat.  I basically spent the all of last week until yesterday coughing up things I never knew my body could produce and creating kleenex mountains all over my house.  I am thankful to say that I am finally recovering, and I am VERY sorry that there was no content on the blog last week!  I haven’t even taken the two thousand photos I took in Disney and synced them with my main mothership computer yet.  Needless to say, it’s been a crazy week.  Thank you all for understanding, and I promise there will be some great new photos and videos coming your way!!

-Eric


 

Aztec Temple

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St. Angel Restaurant

My wife and I ate at this gorgeous restaurant tonight called, St. Angel.  It’s Hidden inside of this cray cray Aztec Temple that you see in the photo.  Inside of the temple also resides an entire Mexican village with little shops, wood carvers, ceremonial masks, authentic Mexican clothing, and much more!  The restaurant overlooks this beautiful indoor river with a massive mural on the wall that gives the illusion that you are looking at a desert under the stars in the distance. 

It’s very hard to convey the beauty of this magical place through words, but I did capture one photo of the outside that I hope you all enjoy! 

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Aztec Temple”


 

Disney’s Spaceship Earth

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The Epcot Ball

Even though my wife thinks this is one of the most painfully boring rides to sit through, she rides it with me multiple times because she knows it is my favorite!  It basically takes you on a journey through time about how technology has evolved over the years, and the ride ends in the middle of the big ball where they have created the illusion of seeing the moon in the distance of outer space.

The ball is the iconic shape and logo for Epcot, so I knew that I wanted to take a very simple photo of it.  I mean, it would be hard to make a photo of a ball complicated, but I didn’t want to shoot it at sunset or with crazy clouds behind it…. just keep it simple.  The ball is a piece of simply beautiful architecture all on it’s own, and I did my best to showcase that.  I hope you all like it!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Disney’s Spaceship Earth”


 

Chinese Temple

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Disney’s Epcot World Showcase

My wife and I are still having a blast here in Disney!  We love staying at a hotel that allows us to walk right into Epcot from the back of the hotel.  If any of you are planning a Disney trip, we HIGHLY recommend Disney’s Yacht Club Resort!  It is one of the only resorts with direct theme-park-access, and that is one of the best selling points of this hotel!  Why?  Well….lets be honest….Disney buses suck!  Coughing/sneezing people in a confined area, people that don’t respect personal space, strollers running over your feet, etc.  Just stay at the Yacht Club and thank me later 🙂

New Disney Photo

China and Japan have some of the most vibrant and eye-catching architecture I have ever seen.  I wanted to take a photo of this so bad, but I couldn’t figure out which angle would do it justice.  As you can see from this photo, I found a great little pond to the left of the temple which portrayed a perfect reflection of the temple and ended up making this photo one of my favorites from the trip so far!  Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Chinese Temple”


 

Disney’s Tomorrow Land

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Magic Hours & Magic Kingdom

We arrived in Disney a couple of days ago and spent our first night wondering around Magic Kingdom.  We always stay on Disney property so that we have access to “Magic Hours” which is basically an extended time period that allows us to stay in the park when most other people have to leave.  

As you might have guessed, we waited until most of the crowds left, and that is when I saw this cool scene of Tomorrow Land’s lights glowing across the water from Cinderella’s Castle.  I love creating the kind of photos that even I could stare at all day.  It was so peaceful there…  Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Disney’s Tomorrow Land”


 

Disney World Photography – Post Processing

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Hidden Market In Morocco | From Beginning To End

Disney’s Epcot is one of my absolute favorite places to take photos!  This specific piece was very fun to create, so I made a super quick video where I let everyone watch me post process the photo from beginning to end…. On hyper-speed… Hope you enjoy!

-Eric

 


 

Taken in Disney's Epcot World Showcase - Morocco

Taken in Disney’s Epcot World Showcase – Morocco


Portal To A Blue World

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Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium is one of the coolest places to visit in Atlanta!  It is a very challenging place to photograph because of all the reflective glass and people everywhere.  I was lucky enough to see this little cove during a sea otter show that was going on, so there were no people around.  I mean come on, when would have been a better time??  People LOVE sea otters….Anyway, I don’t know what it was that caught my eye about this scene, but I think the way this photo is composed made it look pretty nifty 🙂

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Portal To A Blue World”


 

Street Photography – Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival

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What is Street Photography?

To me, street photography is like holding up a mirror to society.  it’s very often the art of creating a very dynamic image while being distanced from your subject.  On the other hand, it can be also be very personal and dramatic portraits of a subject that you might have made a special connection with while walking the streets.  It is a beautiful art form and one of the most challenging as well.

The Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival

Fortunately, I live in a very active town when it comes to festivals, so I love getting out on the street and capturing the culture of my community while tasting it as well :-).  For anyone wanting to try street photography, festivals are one of the greatest places.  Tons of interesting people, great food, and you won’t look weird pointing your camera everywhere.  When you’re shooting in downtown areas and no events are going on, you have to be a little more stealthy while taking photos to avoid possible confrontation.  I have published two photos below that I took at the Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival.  I hope you enjoy them!

-Eric

 

Little Girl & The Balloon_Watermarked

 

Old Man At A Festival_Watermarked


 

Fountain Of Temptation

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The Dallas Waterfall

I used to photograph this waterfall all the time when I lived in Dallas, GA.  It’s in the middle of nowhere, there is an old graveyard on the trail leading to the waterfall, and I always get a little creeped out when I am there by myself.  If you’re a local around the area, it’s simply known as the Dallas Waterfall.  However, if you are not from the area, I have no clue what the name of this waterfall is.  I honestly don’t even think it has an official address.  There are a lot of myths and tales about the falls and the graveyard.  There are even articles that say the grounds are haunted and the graveyard is a really old burial ground for witches.  We may never know the true story behind this place, but I can tell you why I chose such an interesting name for this photo.  Almost every time I  have been to this waterfall, I have found beer bottles, women’s clothing, and/or condoms in random places all around the falls.  Now you see why the name fits so well…

I hope my story behind the name didn’t ruin the beauty of this place for you.  It really is a hidden gem in my opinion.  While there are a lot of tempted people who seem to visit the falls, I can say that I have never actually run into another person while there.  Hmm, now that I think of it, I think I did see a street number for the trail last time I was there.  I think it was  4 8 15 16 23 42…

PS:  If you never saw the show, Lost……well then…..you will have no clue what that series of numbers meant.  Yes, I know i’m a nerd….

-Eric

  NEW PHOTO – “Fountain Of Temptation”


 

Jekyll Nature Trail

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Jekyll Island

I captured this photo on one of Jekyll Island’s nature trails.  Jekyll Island has such a beautiful resort with tons of trails, wildlife, oceanic views, and huge mossy trees that will blow your mind!  Enjoy!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Jekyll Nature Trail


 

Cinderella’s Castle In Pink

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The Magic of Reflections

First, I LOVE shooting in Disney World!  It is such a beautiful place to make art!  So, reflections are a wonderful tool to use when composing a great photo.  They add bits of magic and mystery that make photos much more appealing for the viewers. 

One of my absolute favorite artists who used refections all of the time in his work was the infamous, Thomas Kinkade.  He was most famous for his brilliant Disney paintings that are still cherished and featured all over Disney property.  In fact, my wife and I own two Disney canvas Thomas Kinkade paintings, and they inspire me every day.  I like to keep his work in mind when I photograph Disney World because it maximizes my creativity and shapes how I decide to use Disney’s magical lighting to make unforgettable art.

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – “Cinderella’s Castle In Pink”


 

Downtown Atlanta Photowalk With Trey Ratcliff!

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The Photowalk

This past Wednesday, August 12th, Trey Ratcliff drove through the ATL for a super chill photowalk around town!  There were about 200 people that showed up, and we all followed Trey around the city and took a ton of cool photos until the sun went down.

I showed up an hour early for the pre partay, so I got to hang out with Trey and talk to him for a while about fine art, nerdy camera gear, and moving to New Zealand.  I made a bunch of new friends and got some some cool photos!  I even won a prize and two of my photos made it to his “best of Atlanta” collection!  Pretty cool if you’re a nerd like me!

-Eric

Enjoy this slideshow of my ATL photos!

Eric Marks & Trey Ratcliff

atl-art-center_photowalk

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Atlanta Panorama

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Trip To The ATL!

I was on a day-trip to the Georgia Aquarium when I captured this image.  I was walking through the historic, Centennial Olympic Park when I saw this beautiful view of the Westin building to the left, ferris wheel in the middle, and CNN Center to the right.  I decided that the only way to truly capture the detail of this scene was to shoot 6 different images and stitch them together into one gorgeous panorama.

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Atlanta Panorama


NEW CAMERA And NEW PHOTO!

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NEW CAMERA!

Ok, so I have considered ditching my big heavy DSLR camera system for about a year now in order to switch over to one of the new mirrorless camera systems that keep getting better and better.  Well, I FINALLY did it!  I am not going to give too much away right now because I am in the middle of making a video about what camera I switched to and why.  I promise I will release the video soon and update my “Eric’s Gear” page along with it.

NEW PHOTO!

I captured this one about 20 minutes before sunset at Kennesaw Mountain.  My wife and I love hiking the mountain around sunset because there is an amazing view at the top. However, this particular sunset had very harsh lighting, so I didn’t see a photo opportunity that really spoke to me.  I ended up taking this photo half way back down the mountain.  I noticed that the very harsh lighting from sunset was illuminating the clouds from the side in a very cool way, so I took 6 different photos and stitched them together to make this panorama.    I hope you like it!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Kennesaw Mountain Panorama”


 

Disney’s Japan

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Epcot World Showcase – Walt Disney World

Disney World is easily one of my favorite places in the world to photograph.  I say this because Disney provides the opportunity for so many genres of photography.  Street photography of the people, architecture, landscape, wildlife, night scenes, etc.  Luckily, I travel to Disney quite often, so I have picked up on the best time of day to photograph each park.  It’s very fun to experiment with different camera techniques until that perfect bit of magic creates a scene stealing photo.  

I have heard from way too many people that Epcot is their least favorite park.  If you know anything about Disney, you know that Epcot completely comes to life after dark.  It is so beautiful and majestic walking around the countries at night in their world showcase.  

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Disney’s Japan


 

Sacred Bamboo Forest

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A Day In Barnsley Gardens

First, if you have never been to Barnsley Gardens, I highly recommend that you go!  It is a beautiful resort with two great restaurants, a golf course, horseback riding, great hiking trails, beautiful gardens, and tons of amazing little cottages you can rent.

While I was hiking with my dad and wife on one of the trails, we approached this random circle of really tall bamboo sticks .  The coolest thing was that you could walk in the middle of the circle and be completely surrounded by bamboo.  It was a very cool sight, so I had to create a photo out of it.  I tried to capture the bamboo from a really unique angle so the viewers would get the same cool view that I and in person.

I hope you enjoy this one!  It has quickly become one of my favorites.  Let me know if you would like a print.  Thanks!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Sacred Bamboo Forest”


 

Jekyll Waterway

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Jekyll Island & The Fisherman

One of the most incredible things about Jekyll Island is the beautiful scenery everywhere you look.  I was in absolute awe over the serene land/seascapes, the amount of wildlife, and the crazy moss hanging from every tree!

I found the scene in this image while hiking on one of the island’s wildlife trails.  I came across a cool little bridge, looked to my right, and I saw exactly what you see in the photo below.  It’s not one of those “masterpiece” photos with insane colors and a double rainbow, but I think that is why I like it so much.  It is beautifully simple.  The waterway draws the viewer’s eye all the way through the photo, the sky is pleasantly blue, and if you look really close, you’ll see a fisherman way out near the water in the middle-right of the photo.  While I was processing this one, I almost removed the fisherman from the scene, but I think he fits perfectly and adds a bit of character to the overall composition.

I hope you all enjoy this one!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Jekyll Waterway”

Jekyll Waterway_Crop Fisherman


Christmas On Disney’s Main Street

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A Magic Kingdom Christmas

This trip was our first time visiting Disney World during Christmas, and it was incredible!  I captured this image in Magic Kingdom where my wife and I lingered in the park two hours after closing time.  We never knew that it took THAT long before Disney employees nicely ask you to leave.

I am so glad that we hung around until midnight or I would have never been able to capture some of the best photos I have ever taken in Disney.  Staying in the park that late is truly the key to avoiding all of the crazy crowds ruining photos of Disney’s surreal architecture.  I can’t wait to go back in 6 weeks!!

If anyone is interested in purchasing a print of this image, feel free to concat me HERE.

What is YOUR favorite place to take photos in Disney World??

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – “Christmas On Disney’s Main Street”


 

Purchasing My Prints

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Purchasing My Prints

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 COMING SOON!

Ok, first things first….You guys ROCK!  I was not expecting the launch of my website to get this much traffic and attention in 3 days.  It’s ALL thanks to you!  

Second, I have received a ton of inquiries asking where people can custom order and purchase prints of my photos.  I am thrilled that you guys want prints of my work, and it helps me out so much with keeping the website running and being able to keep creating training videos as often as possible.  All of that being said, I am currently partnering with a great print studio that is going to help handle all of my custom print orders for sizing, paper type, and shipping them right to your door!  This will all be available VERY SOON!  I will be adding a new page to my site where everyone can access all of the different print options for my work.

I am very excited to start selling prints and giving everyone a very easy platform to use for all of the customization you want, from regular matte paper to premium grade canvas, and anything in between!  If anyone would like to purchase prints before this new page is up, please feel free to contact me personally, and I will give you all of the options and pricing.  Contact me HERE.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

-Eric


 

Thunderhead

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Tornado Warning At Sunset

Threatening clouds, 40mph winds, tornado warnings in several different counties, and where do I find myself?  Duh!  I followed the last bit of light to the shores of Lake Allatoona!  When severe storms start to turn the sky into a mixture of that unsettling greenish-orange color, one would/should typically find somewhere to take refuge.  However, those crazy colors and clouds can produce some pretty insane looking sunsets!

So, I took my chances since all of my camera gear is weather sealed.  I was on the shoreline for about 40 minutes getting hit with rain and harsh winds before the beautiful orange sun revealed itself for just enough time to capture this unique image.  My favorite images are the ones that I know i’ll never be able to recreate.  I had no clue how crazy the clouds looked when I was actually at the lake shooting because I was so focused on what the light was doing.  I ‘m sure you can imagine my surprise when I got back to my workstation and saw this image on the computer.  I was very pleased that I bagged this shot after getting abused by the elements for 40 minutes, and I was very thankful that I remained safe the entire time I was there!

Final Thoughts

Often times, landscape and outdoor photographers are referred to as “creatures of the light.”  The explanation to this is that we almost always shoot when the light is at it’s most attractive time of day.  We get up early to shoot at sunrise and stay out late to shoot into sunset and the twilight hours.  However, there are a LOT of people and other photographers that think outdoor photography is as easy as going outside and pointing your camera at something pretty and coming home with a masterpiece to hang on the wall.  Honestly, it would be great if it actually worked like that!  I am not saying this to boast by any means.  I just want to inspire people to challenge their comfort zone and push their creative boundaries to make beautiful pieces of art!  If you want to know where to start, I would recommend looking at some of my photography training videos so that you will understand how far you can push your camera.

  In conclusion, I encourage EVERYONE to get out of the house and take photos whenever you can.  One of my favorite quotes is from Indiana Jones who says, “If you want to be a good archeologist, you have to get out of the library.”  Let that sink in 🙂

Have a great week!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Thunderhead


 

Goonies Never Say Die

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The Fishing Hole

I captured this one last fall, so I am glad I finally got to process it!  I have so many photos built up in my “unprocessed” folder on my computer that it makes it tough sometimes to edit photos as I shoot them.

There is a great little fishing spot where I typically go to shoot sunsets, but while I was waiting for the sun to go down the last time I went, I saw this very “weathered” looking leaf and fishing lure sitting on a rock.  I’m not sure why, but I was so intrigued by the way it looked that I Just HAD to shoot it!  The second I saw it on the back of the camera I knew I was going to love it.

The first thing that came to mind when I reviewed the image on my computer was the little fishing village called Astoria from the movie, The Goonies.  Side note:  If you have never seen The Goonies, drop everything you’re doing and watch it right now!  Anyway, I thought the name of the photo fit well with the whole “fishing village” feel to it.  

 I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts!

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – Goonies Never Say Die


WELCOME To The New Blog!!

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What Is Finding Middle Earth?

Well, before I get into my new website/blog in detail, I will answer the headlining question for you. What is Finding Middle Earth?  The Finding Middle Earth blog will be a fun place for people to learn photography, download training videos,  get involved in great conversations, follow my personal photo adventures, book my photography services, win prizes in photo contests, and much more!  Most important, you will learn to see this wonderful earth in a very different and magical way than most people.

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In More Detail:

Welcome, welcome, welcome!  I am so excited and honored to have you visit my photography blog!

My name is Eric Marks, founder of Finding Middle Earth, LLC.  I’m sure you can guess from the name of my website that I am a huge J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of The Rings fan.  If you are not familiar with Tolkien’s work, Middle Earth is a land of myth and legend where all of the events for the The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit took place.  That being said, I thought the name “Finding Middle Earth” fit very well for my site since I am constantly exploring nature to find locations that will open a door of myth, magic, fantasy, and “wonder” in order to create compelling images for my viewers. 

The purpose of my website/blog is to inspire every person that comes to visit my “hobbit hole” of the web to find their creative side, so they can really see the world differently….So they can see the world in a more magical light…

You will notice that the main focus of Finding Middle Earth is the blog on my home page.  This is where you will see weekly updates on my latest photo adventures, commercial photography, and all of my newest photos.  Any news, events, workshops, and contests will hit the blog or my newsletter before anything else.  I also offer free and paid step-by-step training videos with free support after the purchase.  Another very important aspect of my site is commercial licensing.  I have an entire page dedicated to explaining the different levels of licensing for my photos whether it’s individuals using my images for their blogs or fortune 500 companies using them for their marketing campaigns.

As for my background, I have been working in creative media my entire life.  I have been involved with many different types of photography for 10 years, i’ve owned and operated my own recording studio, directed live sound and lighting, and worked for Apple where I managed a team that created large and small scale business solutions for creative media companies.

Thank you all so much for your time!  

-Eric


The Great Beyond

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The Story Behind The Stars

This photo took me by surprise when I saw the preview on the back of my camera.  I captured this one at a great lake close to my house called Lake Allatoona.  I shoot there fairly often but very rarely try to shoot stars there due to the lake’s shore line being so close to a main road with a lot of light pollution from cars and traffic lights.  However, for a short amount of time each winter, one side of the Allatoona dam dries up so much that you can hike to the middle of the lake where it’s pitch black.

When I saw that the lake had dried up, I waited for an extremely cold and moonless night come along(that sounds like the start of a horror story right?).  Side note: When it’s extremely cold outside, the air is much less dense and therefore easier to capture the stars more clearly.  So, I hiked to the middle of the lake and sat on a rock for two hours to keep from sinking into what felt like quicksand since the lake floor was still so wet.  It was all worth it when sunset came and I witnessed this really special moment between sunset and moonrise where the colors started gradually changing to create the scene you see in this photo.  I have had a lot of people tell me that it looks like the Aurora Borealis.

Thank you all so much for the taking the time to read my blog, and if you’re interested in licensing this photo or purchasing print, you can contact me here.

-Eric

 NEW PHOTO – The Great Beyond


 

Breath Before The Plunge

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 Callaway Gardens

I shot this image in Callaway Gardens right before a huge ring of storms hit the area.  If you know me, you know that I love watching any kind of storm pass through.  It’s actually on my bucket list to go on a storm chaser tornado tour in hopes of bringing back some amazing photos!

As for my vision with this photo, I loved the crazy texture in the clouds, the rays of sun shining through, and the smooth color gradation between the threatening blue sky and the warm colors of the golden field.  I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts.

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Breath Before The Plunge