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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!


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.


 

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


 

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…

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 #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


 

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 🙂


 

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


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”

 


 

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


 

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”


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”


 

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”


 

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


 

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


 

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”


 

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”


 

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


 

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


 

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”


 

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


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

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sony-leica-shooter_photowalk

atl-sign_photowalk

pink-atl_photowalk


 

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


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


Gentle Solitude

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Sweet Water Creek And The Mockingjay

I took this photo at Sweet Water Creek State Park in Lithia Springs, GA.  The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 was actually filmed at Sweet Water so I thought I would add in that little fun-fact.

The reason this specific photo is so unique to me is because Sweet Water Creek typically has brown and muddy water on it’s prettiest of days.  However, this day was extremely cold, cloudy, and had a weird blue tint to the sky.  After seeing the color of the creek mixed with the odd weather, I knew I had to compose this image as a reflection shot.  I used a 9 stop ND filter to achieve that “glassy” look on the water, and I love the way the colors turned out in the final result.

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Gentle Solitude


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


 

Dreams Of Tomorrow

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New Disney Photo!

I took this one in Disney’s Epcot right after sunset.  What caught my eye about this scene was the cool blue colors from the water and the sky mixing with the orange and purple lighting from the architecture across the pond.  It’s a very calming scene in such a crazy and crowded place.

Feel free to let me know If you’re interested in purchasing a print or digital copy 🙂

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Dreams of Tomorrow


Aquatic Wasteland

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Cotton Candy Clouds

Every winter, there are sections of Lake Allatoona that are completely drained for a few months out of the year.  I love visiting this little spot when the lake is drained because it has some of the coolest looking rock formations and/or trees that have been buried beneath the water for most of the year.  It was crazy cold while I was shooting that day, and I was lucky enough to get those blue tinted “cotton candy” type clouds in the sky to seal the deal in making this a killer image!  What do you guys think?

-Eric

NEW PHOTO – Aquatic Wasteland


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