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Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens Review

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The Opening…

Over the years, I have found that Zeiss is a lot like Apple in the sense of giving the consumer a very luxurious experience from the unboxing all the way to the look and feel of the product.

After all of the fluff and the dopamine hit of marketing psychology wears off, is this lens really work the $1843 USD price tag? Let’s find out!

The Full Review…


Build Quality & Ergonomics

The metal construction on the Zeiss Milvus 21mm lens is absolutely brilliant. The focus ring, aperture ring, and lens mount are all built just as well as the main chassy of the lens. From the second you pick it up, you know that you should be more worried about WHAT you drop the lens on instead of the lens itself. In short, it’s built like a tank!

The handling and ergonomics of this lens is also quite pleasing. I have pretty big hands and really enjoy the way the manual focus ring is positioned in the right place to fit into that perfect “pocket” between the thumb and index finder for easy focusing.

The only small complaint I had within this category was with the felt material inside of the lens hood. It is literally a dust and fuzz magnet! It attracts everything! Luckily, I leave it off most of the time since I use filters.

Distortion

This will be a very short category because there’s only so much you can say about distortion. All wide angle lenses have it, and I can say with complete confidence that this lens handles it much better than my Nikkor 16-35 that I used to shoot landscapes with all the time.

Keep in mind that most distortion can be easily fixed inside of photoshop, but it has definitely been nice to see that this lens almost no distortion issue at all.

Optical Image Quality And Performance

This is definitely the most important category of the review because optical quality is the reason we purchase expensive lenses.

After using this lens exclusively for the one month I have owned it, I can say that the pure quality that it can squeeze out of my 36 megapixel Nikon D810 is just outstanding! I would almost say that this lens is too sharp! Did you hear that, pixel peepers?? TOO SHARP! Wait, who am I talking to? The second the pixel peepers read that it was too sharp, they stopped reading and immediately left to purchase the lens…

I expect my D810 RAW files to come into Capture One looking flat as always, but when I imported my first set of images from the Zeiss 21mm Milvus, I couldn’t believe the natural contrast and color rendition. I honestly had to make sure I didn’t have a preset turned on in Capture One because I was so skeptical of what I was looking at.

I tested this lens on a tripod at my native 64 ISO going through the entire aperture range, and I can confirm that you get all of the Zeiss goodness that I talked about above from about f/4 to f/16. Shooting this lens wide open at f/2.8, you will see a little bit of light fall off and slight vignetting in the corners. Luckily, those minor setbacks can be easily fixed with modern software.

Keep in mind that I am only shedding light on those minor complaints so that you have all of the information I have discovered about this lens. If you and I were casually discussing this lens over a cup of coffee, I would probably never shut up about how awesome it is.

Feel free to download a few of my RAW files from shooting the my D810 and Zeiss 21mm Milvus.

Value

So, it’s time for the million dollar question….or should I say the $1843 question? Is this lens worth the hefty price? It all depends on what kind of photography you do and how you will use this lens

If you are an avid printer who sells to galleries or consistently prints large and participates in print exhibitions, then It is worth every penny! You will love it and actually be able to see the difference it makes when you start printing large or licensing work to companies who need massive banners, etc.

If you are like the other 70% of photographers who post to Facebook, Instagram, and your blog, then I would take the $1843 and spend it on marketing your business. Launch some Facebook ads, spruce up your website, pay a videographer to create a compelling story about your business. as a business owner,  your money can be much better spent if you aren’t going to regularly let the Zeiss 21mm Milvus shine in it’s full glory. 


 

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!


 

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


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


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”


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”

 


 

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”


 

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


 

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”

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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


 

Christmas At Opryland Resort

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Opryland Hotel And Resort

December of 2015 was my first visit to the Opryland Hotel, and it definitely took me by surprise.  The hotel had tons of waterfalls, around 20 restaurants, offered riverboat rides, and was within walking distance of the historic Grand Ole Opry.  Needless to say, it was very hard to fit all of this beauty and excitement into one photograph.  As a matter of fact, I went out of my way to make sure I didn’t fit it all into one photograph.  I believe that one of the biggest mistakes people make when documenting cool places is zooming their lens to the widest angle and trying to fit everything into one “crowded” looking image.  

In my opinion, one of the most important things a photographer can give to his/her viewers is a feeling.  Yes, it might sound strange.  However, think about why you have certain framed photographs or paintings throughout your home.  It had to have given you a feeling or made you think of a meaningful memory.  Now you’re starting to see what goes into making a great photograph or piece of art.  We do a lot of work to make sure that the way we compose the photograph expresses the feeling of the scene that made us so happy to take our camera out of the bag to begin with.  Let that sink in for a bit 🙂

Have a wonderful week!

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Christmas At Opryland Resort


 

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

Nikon D810 | Nikkor 16-35 f/4


 

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”


Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-oN i-TTL Speedlight REVIEW

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In Depth Video Review

I have been using the Adorama Flashpoint ZoomLioN i-TTL Speedlight for a while now, and I finally did an in depth review on it.  I hope I can finally answer the high speed sync questions that so many people have and put them to rest.  I could not find any good videos about this flash online, so I hope you all enjoy the information in this one!

-Eric

 Adorama Flashpoint ZoomLioN i-TTL Speedlight REVIEW