Torva Terra LLC: Blog http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog en-us Torva Terra LLC kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:07:00 GMT Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:07:00 GMT http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/img/s1/v48/u973959941-o45720731-50.jpg Torva Terra LLC: Blog http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog 120 78 Guide to Camera Lens Filters http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/lens-filters

A Guide to Camera Lens Filters

 

Instagram @TorvaTerra

 

I recently wrote a Gear Guide for Travel & Wildlife Photography, detailing some of my favorite photography tools in my bag, including the bag itself! I received a few questions about filters so I thought that this would be the perfect time to go over them a little more in depth. There is a great deal of information and types of filters so I am going to focus on what I feel is most important for travel, landscape and wildlife photographers.

What Is A Lens Filter Anyway?

Lens filters are physical pieces of glass, polyester, gelatin or resin that you put in front of your lens, some slide into a holder and some screw onto the front of the lens. The reasons for why to use a filter vary as different filters are used for different reasons which I will go over in a moment. I feel that lens filters are like magic for creating amazing photographs. Properly used, filters help make your photograph look like what you actually saw. They can also be used for more creative or surreal effects.

Digital cameras are technology and like any tools they have shortcomings. An easy one to spot is the dynamic range. Ever taken a photo and you check the lcd screen only to find that the foreground looks fine but the sky is like a flat white space? But then you look back at the actual scene frustrated that you're seeing a blue sky and clouds but your camera isn't. So you change your exposure and now the foreground looks like a flat dark area. That's a simple explanation of dynamic range, the ability to correctly expose both the light and dark parts of your scene in one photograph. Well, slap a graduated neutral density filter on your lens and now in one photograph you have your whole scene. Just like I did for the image below that I photographed in Yellowstone. That is the magic of lens filters.

 

Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

 

There Are Many MANY Filter Types

As a general statement I do travel, landscape and wildlife photography. What filters you might want to have will defend a bit of what you like to photograph. I believe that all outdoor photographers should have a circular polarizing screw on filter. When you start to get involved with landscape photography that is when the benefits of other types of filters will become invaluable. There are so many different filter types from color correction (CC), "skylight", UV, soft focus, etc. I am going to discuss the filters that I think are actually useful and why with details of what I personally use them for.

If you would like to skip ahead, below there are links to the EXACT filters that I use with examples of photographs that I created with them. Okay, let's continue.

UV Filters?

My very detailed thoughts on UV filters: no.

Teasing aside I am not a fan of UV filters, I would rather just put a circular polarizing filter on. There is a great deal of debate about them online if you do some research. Pretty much most photographers who use UV filters have them on because they feel it protects their lens from scratches or damage. The actual UV benefits of the filters are minimal at best. In my opinion if you want to protect your lens just slap on a circular polarizer which would actually be useful! I cannot recommend CP filters enough, the effects they create are just that good. Plus CP filters are rotated to deeper or lighten the effect. So when you don't want it polarizing just rotate it around to the "off" position. Personally the only time mine is in the "off" position is when I am photographing indoors or at night and you can just remove it if you want to then too.

 

TruthTruthSunrise
Grand Teton National Park

 

Can't I just Save Money And Do This In Post?

To start off, yes, some of the effects that you get from lens filters can be artificially added later in post processing. Not always. Some folks would rather skip buying and carrying filters to just add the effects in later. Well, check out the above photograph. I used a circular polarizer to eliminate the glare in the water and boost the vibrancy of color in the sky and reflection. Let's say that you took this photograph without the filter. You would not be able to see through the water at all and the sky would be pale almost white. It would take a very long time in Photoshop to take the photo created without a filter and remove the glare on the water's surface so that you can see the beautiful rocks below at the waters edge. You would have to source some photos of rocks and add them in. Or you could just pop on a lens filter and capture it all instantly in camera!

Another thing to note is that if you manually alter your photographs with post processing to artificially create lens filter effects you will probably not be able to use them in many photography competitions who ban "photoshopping." Natural lens filter effects are okay but digitally altering the scene with post processing is frowned upon by many photography contests and organizations. There is a whole debate about it, pitchforks and all. It's a thing. Just check the rules of any competitions that you like to enter for their guidelines on post processing. This may not matter to you, but I thought it was important to mention for those who do like to enter their photographs.

 

 


 

 

The Nitty Gritty: Filters That I Use

 

This is the moment that you've been waiting for. So what filters do I think are worth it? There are four different types of filters that I have in my kit. All of them do something different. It is a lot of info so bear with me.

 

Circular Polarizer: Neutral Density: GND Kit: RGND Kit:

 

 

CobaltCobaltIcebergs
Jökulsárlón, Iceland

A CP filter was used here to cut the water glare and boost the color of the stormy sky and glacier.

 

Circular Polarizer: Versatile Filter, Good For All Outdoor Photography

If you only ever buy one filter get a circular polarizer. They are in my opinion a simple must have filter for every photographer that takes images outdoors. Why? These filters reduce glare, cut through reflections on water and glass, boost greens on foliage and dramatically cut haze for amazing vibrant skies. You will notice a big difference in your images with this filter. I pretty much leave my circular polarizer on my wide angle lens all the time. 

Here is my all time favorite circular polarizer, currently on my lens:

B+W 77mm HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coating - Don't forget to check the size to match your lens.

 

Good to Know: Circular polarizing filters screw onto your lens as an attachment and they rotate. To use this type of filter you physically turn it to control the strength of the effect.

An important thing to note with any filter is that you want to get a good quality one as some can add a strong color cast to your image. Even some of the best filters have a little color cast, that is the trade off to the amazing results they give.

The second thing to know is that because these filters screw directly onto your lens, you need to select the correct size that matches your gear. Look on the rim of your lens edge and you'll see a number there with a geometric ø symbol next to it such as ø 67mm or ø 77mm, etc. That is the diameter size you should purchase for that lens.

You can then get what is called a step down ring which is an adapter to use that size on smaller lenses. For example: I bought the ø 77 mm for my Canon 10-22mm lens and the step down ring so that I can use the same filter on my Canon 70-200mm which is ø 67mm.

 

 

SkógafossSkógafossSkógafoss, Iceland

A ND filter with a long exposure was used here for the creamy waterfall effect.

 

Neutral Density: Special Effect Filter, Best For Long Exposure Landscape Images

Next, a special type of filter that I use for creative images is a neutral density filter. I mainly use these to darken the scene so that I can do a long exposure. Long exposures add an amazing creamy effect to landscapes with water, especially waterfalls. You can also get a neat effect to skies, city lights, etc. Here is my go to ND filter:

B+W 65-073102 77mm Neutral Density 0.9-8x Filter 103 - I use these for long exposures. I have a few different ones of varying strength. For example, this one is lighter B+W 77mm ND 0.6-4X  (102), etc.

 

 

Dragon at SunriseDragon at SunriseHvítserkur
Vatnsnesvegur, Iceland

A GND filter was used here to naturally balance the sky and foreground's dynamic range.

 

Graduated Neutral Density: Amazing For Landscape Photographers

Other than filters that screw onto your lens, I also use graduated neutral density filters when I am photographing landscapes. I consider a graduated neutral density filter to be one of the most important parts of a serious landscape kit.

I have two GND filter kits by the brand Formatt Hitech in my bag that I absolutely love.

85x110mm Graduate Kit 6 (3-Filter Neutral Density Graduate Soft Edge Kit) - I use these for most landscape photos, if it has a sky, I probably used it.

 

What Does It Do?: A GND filter is blended with the top edge darkened like sunglasses fading across the surface to a clear edge at the bottom. These filters are used to help correct the issue of having a too bright sky or too dark foreground aka the shortcomings of dynamic range. They do this by having the dark sunglasses like portion of the filter covering the sky which would otherwise register to the camera as overly bright. GND filters also come in varying strengths and sizes. The filters are rectangular and go in a special holder that screws or clips onto the front of your lens. If your kit doesn't include one, you would need to purchase the filter holder that matches your filter size. Alternatively you can just manually hold the filter in front of your lens.

 

 

Kirkjufell Mountain, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
Iceland

A combo of the CP + ND + RGND on a long exposure were used to capture this vibrant sunrise and creamy waterfall.

 

Reverse Graduated Neutral Density: For Serious Landscape Photography Sunrises & Sunsets

Graduated filters also come in a type called the reverse or RGND. These filters have the darkest part near the center fading up outward.  They are best for sunrises or sunsets when the brightest part of the composition is at the horizon line.

85x110MM Graduated Kit 7 (3-Filter Neutral Density Reverse Graduated Kit) - These are the ones I use for sunrise and sunset

 

What Does It Do?: The reverse graduated neutral density filter is a lens filter with the darkest part covering the horizon line. This helps correct images created at sunrise and sunset when the sun, and therefore brightest part of the image, is low in the sky. How does it do that? The dark part of the filter being right over the horizon line fixes the sky being too bright in that area during those specific times of day when the sun is low. I recommend them if you are serious about getting your sunrise or sunset landscapes photos looking their best in camera. Essentially, they correct the dynamic range issue discussed earlier but are really only intended for use during sunrise and sunset.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Gear Guide For Travel & Wildlife Photography (Part I) http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/photo-gear-guide

What's In My Bag: A Guide to Camera Gear (Part I)

 

Instagram @TorvaTerra

 

I often get asked questions about what gear I am using to create my photographs or what to pack for a photography workshop. I must say first that for me the equipment are merely tools of the craft. When someone online sees a great photo they often immediately say "Oh you must have a great camera!" Or they just ask outright what camera I used, implying that the camera and not the photographer's skill is what matters most. With the technology nowadays, even a cell phone camera can take a decent image. The key to creating a great photograph is not the gear you used to create it, it is the content of the image. Being in the right place, at the right time of day and setting it all up to get the perfect shot is the key. Don't be afraid if your gear is older, "cheap" or "lacking" in some way. Having good gear is helpful for some situations/reasons but its your skill first that created the composition!

That being said, using the right supporting tools for the job will help you overcome certain obstacles that arise trying to create your dream photograph! For example, if you do not have a tripod you may not be able to get a long exposure photograph. Without weather sealing on your gear or a good rain cover for protection, if it rains you might have to miss great stormy photographs. Without the right filters, some photographs cannot even be created without heavy post processing of your RAW files. Really in my humble opinion, it is not about the camera. Actually it is the other supporting gear that gets you through the day.

 


 

Where You Can Buy Gear

Here are some places where I like to buy gear, some have physical stores where you can browse in person. I have spent a great many hours happily lost in B&H's huge multi level store like a kid in a candy shop.

Amazon.com - For shopping online (I've included easy affiliate links on this page to the exact gear I discuss)

Adorama - Has a store in NYC, USA and online

B&H Photo Video - Has a store in NYC, USA and online

Unique Photo - Has a store in NJ, USA and online

 

 


 

The Bag Itself

First off is selecting the right backpack. If you are a serious photographer out in the wilds then shoulder or messenger style bags are not the right choice. The uneven distribution of weight will have you switching the bag from one shoulder to another with all of the weight on one side hurting all day. Skip the hassle. If you can, go to a physical camera shop and lift the backpacks and try them on. A big mistake that photographers make is to only consider the weight of the gear and not that the bag itself. First lift the backpack empty, some are surprisingly heavy! I have been at B&H and lifted empty camera backpacks that weigh even more than my tripod (3.41lbs). In particular you will notice that weather proof bags with the coated zippers weigh considerably more than a standard bag. Yet the standard bags often come with a rain cover to protect them in case of inclement weather.

The second mistake people make is not really "trying" the pack on right. Bring your stuff! Put your gear in the prospective backpack at the store, and try it on loaded up as you would be using it. Not only can you check if your gear fits but if the bag fits you. Strap it up and do a lap around the aisle. How does it feel? 

So what backpack do I use? I have a Lowepro Mini Trekkar AW.  It is an older model bag that has served me well over the years. The important thing about this bag is that it is very light and yet it can fit my camera with my largest lens attached right in the center. Then it has space around that for my macro, two wide angle lenses, hoods and filter pouch. Plus all of the accessory pockets and the huge pocket in the front that I use to carry water bottles (in a zip lock), a baggie with my memory cards, battery, charger, snacks and an external hard drive in. It has extra straps on the outside so that I can attach my tripod to the bag when I am hiking. Plus it comes with the AW weather cover I was mentioning.  All that and it only weighs 2.6 pounds empty!

My second choice would be the newer Lowepro Pro Runner BP 350 AW II. This bag offers the same perks as mine plus way more pockets for your accessories and laptop. The caveat is that it weighs in a bit more at 5.4 pounds. This is still lighter than most bags of this size. If you want a little larger bag Lowepro also has the Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW II. Amazon has a chart on their page to compare the two, plus another new version of the 450 AW II that has wheels on the bottom.

So why do I recommend Lowepro bags? I have been using the same bag for about 15 years. It has been through airport security, smelly mucky swamps, the actual arctic, every condition you can imagine and has stood up to it all. I will tell you something else surprising. I have (empty of course!) put my camera backpack in the washer and dryer many times. Delicate cycle warm wash and low heat dryer. Do that at your own risk but I don't know of any other bag that can take what I dish and handle it. (Again, before you ask no Lowepro did not give me anything to say this! All of my gear I bought myself on Amazon or at the camera store.)

 


 

My Horus Bennu tripod in the field. It spends many days in salt water and sand.My Horus Bennu tripod in the field. It spends many days in salt water and sand.My Horus Bennu tripod in the field. It spends many days in salt water and sand.

 

The Tripod

One of the biggest weight offenders in your kit will be your tripod. The trick is compromise. I could write a whole article on this but in short I will say to save up and just get a carbon fiber tripod. They are light, strong and stand up to weather. Save yourself the aggravation of purchasing tripods again and again as they break, rust, or you find they are too heavy or annoying. There are more brands and options than ever nowadays that offer amazing yet affordable carbon fiber tripod kits with a ball head.

I bought a Horus Bennu carbon fiber tripod kit with ball head in 2011.  Been around the world and in the ocean and the thing is great. When you buy a decent tripod you can rely on it to last you many years. Check out my Horus Bennu tripod review for more details on the specific model I got if you would like to see why I chose that exact one or want grab one too.  Mine is an older model of course but they have a few upgraded new options online. And before you ask, no not sponsored!

A few other brands that I recommend are Three Legged ThingReally Right Stuff and Gitzo. In fact Gitzo's Traveler Series of tripod and head sets are very popular, however I have never used one myself. Here is one that I have seen many other travel photographers use: Gitzo GK2545T-82QD Series 2 Traveler Kit with GT2545T 4 Section Tripod & Head (Black).  This tripod folds down to 17.5" for easy packing and weighs just 4lbs.

Overall get the best tripod that you can afford as it will be holding your precious camera and lens. A great tripod will last you years and years and the investment in quality is important especially for gear that can withstand travel and the elements.

Side note, one little easy trick for traveling by air with your tripod is to take off the head. Its a simple way to get the size down. By removing the head, I can easily fit my tripod in my carry-on bag. Then I just put the head in a lens slot of my camera bag.

 


 

 

Filters

There are four types of filters that I have in my kit. All of them do something different. It is a lot of info so bear with me.

These are the exact filters that are in my bag:

Circular Polarizer: Neutral Density: GND Kit: RGND Kit:

 

 

CobaltCobaltIcebergs
Jökulsárlón, Iceland

A CP filter was used here to cut the water glare and boost the color of the stormy sky and glacier.

 

Circular Polarizer: If you only ever buy one filter get a circular polarizer. They are in my opinion a simple must have filter for every photographer that takes images outdoors. Why? These filters reduce glare, cut through reflections on water and glass, boost greens on foliage and dramatically cut haze for amazing vibrant skies. I pretty much leave my circular polarizer on my wide angle lens all the time. 

Here is my all time favorite circular polarizer, currently on my lens:

B+W 77mm HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coating - Don't forget to check the size to match your lens.

Quick CP Primer: An important thing to note with any filter is that you want to get a good quality one as some can add a strong color cast to your image. Even some of the best filters have a little color cast, that is the trade off to the amazing results they give.

The second thing to know is that these filters screw onto your lens so you need to select the correct size that matches your lens. Look on the rim of your lens edge and you'll see a number there with a geometric ø symbol next to it such as ø 67mm or ø 77mm, etc. That is the diameter size you should purchase for that lens.

You can then get what is called a step down ring which is an adapter to use that size on smaller lenses. For example: I bought the ø 77 mm for my Canon 10-22mm lens and the step down ring so that I can use the same filter on my Canon 70-200mm which is ø 67mm.

 

SkógafossSkógafossSkógafoss, Iceland

A ND filter with a long exposure was used here for the creamy waterfall effect.

 

Neutral Density: Next, a special type of filter that I use for creative images is a neutral density filter. I mainly use these to darken the scene so that I can do a long exposure. I teach this technique in all of my Iceland Photography Workshops. Long exposures add an amazing creamy effect to landscapes with water, especially waterfalls. You can also get a neat effect to skies, city lights, etc. Here is my go to ND filter:

B+W 65-073102 77mm Neutral Density 0.9-8x Filter 103 - I use these for long exposures. I have a few different ones of varying strength. For example, this one is lighter B+W 77mm ND 0.6-4X  (102), etc.

 

Dragon at SunriseDragon at SunriseHvítserkur
Vatnsnesvegur, Iceland

A GND filter was used here to naturally balance the sky and foreground's dynamic range.

 

Graduated Neutral Density: Other than filters that screw onto your lens, I also use graduated  neutral density filters when I am photographing landscapes. I consider a graduated neutral density filter to be one of the most important parts of a serious landscape kit.

I have two GND filter kits by the brand Formatt Hitech in my bag that I absolutely love.

85x110mm Graduate Kit 6 (3-Filter Neutral Density Graduate Soft Edge Kit) - I use these for most landscape photos, if it has a sky, I probably used it.

Quick GND primer: If you aren't familiar with them, a GND filter has one edge that looks darkened like sunglasses and fades to a clear edge. They are used to help correct the issue of having a too bright sky or too dark foreground. The filters are rectangular and go in a special holder that screws or clips onto the front of your lens. These filters also come in varying strengths and sizes.

 

Kirkjufell Mountain, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
Iceland

A combo of the CP + ND + RGND on a long exposure were used to capture this vibrant sunrise and creamy waterfall.

 

Reverse Graduated Neutral Density: Graduated filters also come in a type called the reverse or RGND. These filters have the darkest part near the center fading up outward.  They are best for sunrises or sunsets when the brightest part of the composition is at the horizon line.

85x110MM Graduated Kit 7 (3-Filter Neutral Density Reverse Graduated Kit) - These are the ones I use for sunrise and sunset

 

 


 

I hope that you enjoyed Part I of this guide. Part II is coming soon with tips and gear recommendations for lenses, rain protection, clothing and more.

 

 

 

 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. - You pay nothing extra and any purchases that you make help support this website. Thank you for your support!
 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) backpack bag best camera bag best travel photo gear buy buying buying camera backpack camera camera backpack choose gear guide guide to packing for iceland photo gear guide photographer photography photography packing guide select tripod weight what to bring to iceland wildlife photographer gear http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/photo-gear-guide Fri, 19 May 2017 13:17:00 GMT
Guide to Backlit and Rimlit Wildlife Photography http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/guide-to-backlit-and-rimlit-wildlife-photography

Using Backlight and Rim light for Wildlife Photographs:

 

GuardianGuardianCoastal Brown Bear
Alaska

"This sow, female coastal brown bear, was photographed in the Alaskan wilderness. With her are two first year spring cubs so small that they are easily hidden in the tall meadow grass. As the sun sets, she watches over her cubs diligently."

Coastal brown bear, Alaska Photography Workshop

Exposure: 1/160 at f/8, ISO 200
 

One of my favorite techniques to creating unique and compelling wildlife imagery is backlighting. A backlit photograph simply means that the light source of the image came from behind or the back of the subject. When used correctly a backlit photograph draws attention to the form and shape of the subject. The warm inviting tones of the natural light add contrast and vibrancy to your image which can really make it stand out. I have used both backlight and rim light for years to add variety to my wildlife portfolio. In this article I will share with you my tips and tricks for mastering backlight.

 

Arctic tern, Iceland Photography Workshop

Exposure: 1/2656 at f/6.3, ISO 400

 

Settings

I have included the settings for a few of the photographs in this article so that you can see how I worked. It is hard to say exactly what settings you should use here because it will really depend on the lighting situation that day, your gear and the results that you want. I tend to favor a dark image with lots of contrast and vibrant color. I usually use spot or evaluative metering depending on how bright the light is that day. Manual mode is best but you can also get great results in Av or Tv. If you use those modes remember to adjust the exposure compensation if the images are too light or dark. Don't be afraid to check back in on your lcd screen to ensure that your photos are coming out how you want. Really play with your settings, this is a creative technique. Experimentation will build confidence and experience.

 

Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania

Red fox kit, PA USA

Exposure: 1/400 at f/6.3, ISO 640

 

The Golden Hour

To create naturally backlit or rimlit photographs let's first talk briefly about subjects. I find that this technique works best for mammals, birds in flight, or birds on an interesting perch. The reason for this is that you will lose some of the recognizable features of the animal. The focus of the composition will now be on form, color and the environment. Think of a cookie cutter shape glowing, if you cannot tell what the shape is, you lose the viewer's ability to recognize and relate with the subject. The glow around the edge of the subject should work for you, not against you, thus why I choose wildlife that is easy to recognize by shape alone. My favorites are foxes, bears and owls.

Once you have your subject, you can move on to how exactly to achieve this effect. The best time of day for backlit and rimlit photographs is the famous "golden hour" which is right after sunrise or right before sunset. The reason for this is that the sun is positioned low in the sky, you want this angle and color for the best effect. Most of my backlit photographs were created at sunset, in the very last light of the day. The lower the light, the more dramatic the results will be. When setting up photography trips where I know I want to include a backlit image in my shot list, I use Weather.com to check sunrise and sunset times. This way I can plan to be in position at just the right time.

In essence backlighting happens when you position the light source directly on the opposite side of the subject from yourself. For example, to backlight a fox in a meadow the sun is across the field from me and the fox is in the middle. You are facing the light, and your subject is in the middle of you and the light. Seriously! This goes contrary to everything you learn in photography school about properly lighting a subject. However by positioning yourself in this manner, you are on the dark or shadow side of the subject. The light flaring around it will create a beautiful halo of light on the subject and illuminate any foliage.

 

Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania

Red fox kit, PA USA

Exposure: 1/400 at f/7.1, ISO 400

 

What is Rimlight?

With backlighting being a subject lit from behind, it can seem confusing as to what rim lighting is. Rim light is that glowing line that the backlight creates around the very edge of your subject. It is one of my favorite parts of a backlit image and I love to use it with mammals like foxes whose fur just catches the light so lush and stunning.

 

OmbreOmbreRed Fox
New Jersey Shore

Red fox adult, NJ USA

Exposure: 1/100 at f/4, ISO 1000

 

Burrowing Owl
Southern United States
Silhouette:

In my opinion, the best full silhouette photographs are made just after the sun has dipped below the horizon. The last of the golden light is still illuminating the sky, however because the sun is gone there is no rim light. You will need to increase your ISO, the light level is low now. Your subject is now a true dark form. I love to use this technique when the wildlife that I am photographing is in an interesting environment.

In the photo above of a red fox still atop a sand dune, this is the blue hour when the light's hue has gone cold. I had to use ISO 1000 there just to keep a decent shutter speed. In the photo to the right, a burrowing owl is resting on top of a palm tree. I feel that the color and shapes are strong when you create an environmental portrait of your subject like these. I also use this often for birds in flight when there are great clouds in the sky to add texture and depth to the image.

Another way that I enjoy using the silhouette technique is when I have a subject that is an interesting shape superimposed over a great background scene. A buffalo on a field in Grand Teton National Park or a heron in the glittery waters of Florida is perfect. The best thing about this is that you can be creative and really produce something unique. Photography is all about the light, so play with it and make a photograph that is totally different than you might have thought to do. Most of all have fun!

 

Black Skimmer Short-eared Owl Silhouette
New York State
Fish Crow Silhouette
Southern United States
 

 

 


 

Hopefully these tips help you capture great photographs of wildlife in beautiful backlighting! Good luck out there and mostly importantly. have a great time doing what you love!

 

Want help in person? Check out the Photography Workshop page for my upcoming schedule of instructional trips.

 

  Reddish Egret
Southern United States

Reddish egret in flight, Florida Birding Workshop

Exposure: 1/3200 at f/8, ISO 200


 

 

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Guide to Photographing Birds In Flight http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/8/guide-to-photographing-birds-in-flight

How to Photograph Birds in Flight:

 

Snowy owl
Ontario, Canada

"A snowy owl spirals in the sky, tossed about by the wind of an approaching blizzard. Her aerial maneuvers were a joy to behold!"

Snowy owl in flight, Canada

Exposure:1/2500 at f/8, ISO 100
 

One of the most difficult and rewarding techniques that any aspiring bird photographer must learn to tackle is when their subjects take to the air. Birds in flight or BIF are fast, tricky, and hard to predict. Here are some of my tips and tricks on how to capture and freeze the motion of these beautiful creatures carving their way through the air.

When you are learning how to capture birds in flight, the first step is to bring yourself somewhere where birds are actively flying. You want the best chance to have repeated attempts so that you can practice. Some great places to check out are beaches and local parks where birds often gather year round and are accustomed to seeing people. One of my favorite places to photograph birds in flight is Iceland. During the summer months hundreds of puffins nesting in the cliffs repeatedly depart their burrows and return shortly after often with beaks chock full of fish. There are great spots like this to photograph puffins in Alaska, Maine and Newfoundland. Finding a spot near you to where you can spend time and practice photographing birds in flight is the best way to get started.

 

Horned puffin in flight
Alaska

Horned puffin in flight, Alaska Photography Workshop

Exposure:1/3200 at f/7.1, ISO 640

 

 

Once you've found your birds, observe them for a while. When they are hunting or feeding, birds often repeat behaviors and fly paths. They will take off into the wind and land against it. Knowing this is part of being prepared to guess what the birds will do when in flight.

Gear for capturing birds in flight is simpler than you might think. Aside from your dslr camera, you will also need a telephoto lens with a wide aperture. I often use my Sigma 50-500mm as the zoom, range and weight are a perfect fit for me. We will discuss settings in a moment. First, let's go over stability. I have found that the best way to photograph a BIF is to hand hold my camera and lens. Tripods are very useful tools, but are cumbersome in this situation. You need to be quick! The way that you hold your camera and lens must be firm but your body must be loose and flexible so that you can turn and move to follow the animal.

The next important step is to get the bird in your frame. This is often the most difficult part for beginners, patience is key. Keep your eyes locked on your subject following it's movement. Then bring your camera up to your eye. This is the technique you would use with any spotting whether it be binoculars or a scope. If you are having trouble, practice on a perched or resting bird first. If you are still having trouble find a "landmark" near the bird then try to find that through in your viewfinder first. Use your landmark to guide you to getting the nearby bird in the frame. Practice this way until you feel comfortable. Start with your camera zoomed out farther than you would want for the photograph until you can reliably bring the camera up to your eye with the bird in frame. Then zoom in farther and repeat until you are getting your bird and feel ready to start creating photographs.

 

Lesser Scaup
Maryland

Lesser scaup in flight, Maryland, United States

Exposure:1/3200 at f/7.1, ISO 800

 

Beginner settings: Tv on Canon, Pentax, Leica / or “S” on Nikon, Minolta, Konica Minolta, Sony, Olympus, Sigma

Shutter Priority Mode is a good mode for beginners to start with as it allows the camera's "brain" to do some of the fast thinking for you. Select a very fast shutter speed to begin with. How fast? Well it depends on your gear because the lowest aperture would be best to bring in more light and let you use a low ISO for image quality. Sound complicated already? Okay don't worry. Start with a shutter speed of 1/2000, if that is too fast for your gear use 1/1600. Shutter Priority mode will automatically adjust your aperture and ISO for you while keeping a static shutter speed.

If you are using automatic focusing, try selecting very few points for the camera to look at, or just select Center Point Focus. Next, put the camera in AI Servo Mode. Servo mode tells the camera to lock onto a focal plane and attempt to track the subject. This is perfect for "chasing" a moving subject with your lens! Next you will want to check your metering. Part of the difficulty with metering is that the bird will often fly from one area to a completely different area. As the background changes, so does the exposure. I prefer Spot Metering when photographing BIF, and I check my histograms often to ensure that things are working as intended. Another important setting is your Drive Mode which controls how fast your camera captures images. When photographing motion, select High Speed Continuous which will allow you to capture a rapid fire burst of photographs.

Testing things and experimenting with your settings is a great way to get to know and understand your camera.

 

Great Grey OwlGreat Grey OwlGreat Grey Owl
Ontario, Canada

Kate's Notes:

A Great Grey Owl flying over a snow covered field. I photographed this owl, during a mild irruption last winter caused by snowstorm Nemo. I actually drove through the storm to get into town and there were roads blocked and power out everywhere. This photo made it all worth it! Hiking through the deep, fresh snow in the woods and fields was very peaceful... But suddenly movement, and then you would see owls in the trees all around you. There must have been at least a dozen different owls in the vicinity. I spent an unforgettable week photographing them. They had absolutely no fear of humans and would perch, preen, fly around, hunt, etc right as you watched. On one of the very last days I got this photo of an owl flying past me. Laying in the frigid snow, luck was in my favor as the owl flew in a dip of the snow dunes and made the perfect shot that I had been dreaming of.

Great grey owl in flight, Canada

Exposure:1/3200 at f/7.1, ISO 640

 

Pro level settings: If this isn't your first rodeo, or you want to jump in to things right away, start shooting in manual. I love shooting birds in flight in manual as it gives me total control. I already know exactly what I want to achieve. I want a clean blurry background and a sharp bird with minimal blurring to the wings. Here is my secret to BIF my way. I shoot in manual mode with a fast shutter speed of at least 1/2500 or higher to minimize motion blur. More often than not I am at 1/3200 as for me that seems to be the sweet spot for photographing larger birds like owls. I use a small aperture, the lowest number my lens can do. With my Sigma 50-500 this is often f/6.3 or f7.1 so that my background is as blurred as possible.  I further utilize my depth of field by physically getting low to the ground to add distance between the camera, subject and background. The farther away you are from the background, the more blur it will have when shooting wide open.

Next, I use ISO as my variable. In my 7D I can half depress the shutter and see a green exposure bar based on my current settings. I bump my ISO up or down to correct over or under exposure. I typically stay within a range of 200-800 ISO depending on the lighting situation. Anything more than ISO 800 and the image quality really starts to take a hit.

The final trick I do is to either use center point focus or to go all out and focus manually! It might seem crazy but I prefer this method. I "roll" the focus through as the bird moves to follow its movement. I find that I miss fewer shots this way and I am able to track a bird from take off to landing. When manual focusing isn't possible, such as in winter when I am bundled up in thick gloves, I use the center point focus with AI Servo mode.

 

Horned puffins flying in front of the active volcano Mount Iliamna
Alaska
Arctic Tern
Iceland

Final Thoughts: The last two things that I do are to make judgement calls regarding how "frozen" I want the bird to be in the frame and if I really want a low number aperture. With certain situations I like to see the edge of a bird's wing a little blurred. This helps create the appearance of movement in the image. To do that I turn down my shutter speed a bit, to something like  1/1250. Then there are a few times when I actually want the background to be in focus. Sometimes showing more of the environment in your composition helps to tell a story with your imagery. For me this is more often when photographing an owl perched camouflaged in a tree or a shorebird at the beach. These are all judgement calls that you as a photographer make in the field. This is the fun part and why you can stand next to another photographer and both have very different images of the same subject just based on your choice of settings and composition.

 


 

Hopefully these tips help you capture great photographs of birds in flight! Good luck out there and mostly importantly. have fun!

 

Want help in person? Check out the Photography Workshop page for my upcoming schedule of instructional trips.


  Brown Pelican
Southern United States

Brown pelican in flight, Florida Birding Workshop

Exposure:1/2000 at f/5.6, ISO 200


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) award birds birds in flight flight flying guide how how to photograph birds owl owls photograph photograph flying birds photograph owls photographer photographing birds photographing birds in flight photography tips to tutorial http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/8/guide-to-photographing-birds-in-flight Mon, 15 Aug 2016 23:28:09 GMT
Featured in Outdoor Photographer Magazine May 2016 Issue http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/5/featured-in-outdoor-photographer-magazine-may-2016-issue

Outdoor Photographer "Behind The Shot" Two Page Spread

 

I recently wrote an article for Outdoor Photographer Magazine's Behind The Shot about my experience photographing in Iceland. The piece is a behind the scenes look at how I created "Blue Ice, Black Sand," a photograph of the waves crashing over the icebergs at Jökulsárlón beach. I am so excited to share that my story and photograph have been published in the May 2016 Landscape Special Issue on pages 44, 45! A big thank you to OP for the feature!

Outdoor Photographer Magazine: Facebook / Instagram


 

Want to order a copy of Outdoor Photographer Magazine?

Digital Magazine Editions For PC, Kindle or Mobile Devices


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) Iceland Jökulsárlón beach feature guide how icebergs icelandic jokulsarlon magazine outdoor photograph photographer photography story to tour workshop http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/5/featured-in-outdoor-photographer-magazine-may-2016-issue Sun, 01 May 2016 18:17:00 GMT
Outdoor Photographer Behind The Shot Feature About My Iceland Photograph http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/outdoor-photographer-behind-the-shot-feature-on-j-kuls-rl-n-iceland

Outdoor Photographer "Behind The Shot" Feature

 

I recently wrote an article for Outdoor Photographer Magazine's Behind The Shot about my experience photographing in Iceland. The piece is a behind the scenes look at how I created "Blue Ice, Black Sand," a photograph of the waves crashing over the icebergs at Jökulsárlón beach. My story and photo will be printed in the May Landscape issue of the magazine! A big thank you to OPM for the feature!

Outdoor Photographer Magazine: Facebook / Instagram

Here is an excerpt:

"Of all of the amazing activities and scenery that Iceland has to offer, one of my favorite places to explore is the Jökulsárlón glacial lake and nearby beach of black sand. Located at the foot of Vatnajökull National Park, it’s here that huge icebergs calve from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier into the lake. These icebergs are then carried by the tide out to the Atlantic Ocean where most are just dragged right back to shore by the waves. This phenomenon results in the black sandy beach being covered in hundreds to thousands of ice chunks of varying size, shape and color. From bright blue to pure milky white, each iceberg is unique. Some of the ice is even still speckled with rich dark volcanic ash from ancient eruptions."

To read the rest of the article click [here]

Blue Ice, Black Sand IIBlue Ice, Black Sand IIIcebergs coming to shore
Jökulsárlón, Iceland

"Black sand, blue icebergs, stormy skies and the great sea crashing and weaving them all together."

 

Full link to article: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/behind-the-shot/2016/02/behind-the-shot-blue-ice-black-sand-by-kate-garibaldi-jokulsarlon-glacial-lake-iceland.html?utm_source=facebook&ute_medium=status&utm_campaign=bts


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) Iceland Jökulsárlón beach feature guide how icebergs icelandic jokulsarlon magazine outdoor photograph photographer photography story to tour workshop http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/outdoor-photographer-behind-the-shot-feature-on-j-kuls-rl-n-iceland Fri, 12 Feb 2016 20:41:53 GMT
I Won a National Geographic Travel Photography Contest http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/i-won-national-geographic-travel

I Won the National Geographic "Chase Adventure" Photography Contest!

 

I am beyond thrilled to share that I won the "Chase Adventure" photography contest from National Geographic Travel. My photograph of a bear family in Alaska was juried as the Grand Prize winner of a National Geographic expedition. I feel so honored, thankful and proud. In the week since it was announced my photograph has received over 175k likes over on Instagram. My account is going crazy with all of the support and kind words. I love it! Thank you so much to National Geographic Travel and all of my new friends on Instagram @TorvaTerra.

The Announcement from Instagram

 

Full link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BBQMFwrIMTw/


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) adventure alaska bear bears chase contest cub cubs grand prize winner nat geo national geographic photograph photography wildlife win winning won http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/2/i-won-national-geographic-travel Wed, 10 Feb 2016 21:08:00 GMT
Iceland Vlog Series http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/iceland-vlog-series  

 

It's time for Throwback Thursday! I've been looking back on my very first scouting trip to Iceland which feels like forever ago now. In Iceland I decided to try something new and create vlogs during my trip. Since then, I have been considering doing more vlogs to share my experiences. If you aren't familiar with the term, vlogging is where you just talk about the day, what things are like or share anything special like you would via a text blog but in a video instead. These video diaries give you a glimpse behind the scenes of what things are like for a photographer in the field and hopefully with mine, you feel like you are there on the journey with me!

 

Let's take a look back on that trip. I hope that you all enjoy this peek into my Icelandic adventure experiences!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) Iceland adventure clips diary icelandic log photograph photographer photography ring road tourism travel trip video youtube http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/iceland-vlog-series Fri, 21 Aug 2015 01:10:14 GMT
Guide to Hiking Dettifoss & Selfoss Waterfalls in Northern Iceland http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/guide-to-hiking-dettifoss-selfoss-waterfalls-in-northern-iceland Jökulsá á FjöllumJökulsá á FjöllumJökulsá á Fjöllum, the second longest river in Iceland flows from the Vatnajökull glacier down into the Greenland Sea. Welcome to:
Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon
Vatnajökull National Park, Northeast Iceland

A beautiful day of waterfall adventures await! The main attraction of this hike is the intense waterfall Dettifoss, reputed to be the strongest falls in all of Europe. It is 330ft wide and drops over columnar basalt rock 150ft into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. However, it is the sheer volume of water that passes down this ledge that gives it the title of strongest... at 6,816 cu ft/s. That's a lot of water! The sound alone is breath taking.

 

DettifossDettifossDettifoss
Vatnajökull National Park, Northeast Iceland

 

Next up down the trail about 1.2km/45 minutes of hiking rocky terrain around and over boulders is the wide chain of waterfalls known as Selfoss. Uniquely beautiful, this falls looks like a table of basalt spilling over a vertical wall at the brim becoming 20 waterfalls in one!

 

SelfossSelfossSelfoss
Vatnajökull National Park, Northeast Iceland

 


Location / Directions:

Arguably the best view of the falls is by taking the 32km long rough gravel road off Highway 1, called #864. Also known as the East Dettifoss Road this route is only open during the summer months. A longer drive than the West (Road #862) but so WORTH it. You can barely see the expanse of Selfoss from the Western banks and the view of Dettifoss is in my opinion not as impressive from that side. Trust me, take the East Road #864!

The East Road lot has a block of portopotties and ample parking. From the lot the first lookout spot for Dettifoss is 1/3km 15 min walk down the trail which has steep stairs of natural rock. Hike a bit farther down and you can stand at the very edge of the falls. Be cautious if you get near the edge for obvious reasons! From there the trail to Selfoss is upstream about 1.2km and also worth seeing while you are there. The total hike distance round trip for both Dettifoss and Selfoss is about 4km.

East Parking Lot Coordinates: N 65° 49.140 W 016° 22.757
or   65.819, -16.37928



BONUS ADD ON: Hafragilsfoss Waterfall and sweeping Vista View

A hidden gem that many tourists miss... Drive north past the East Road Dettifoss parking lot on #864 another 2 kilometers. Look for a sign with a turnoff on the left then continue up a steep road and there will be a parking lot at the end. You are now at the top of the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon with a perfect view of the whole gorge! Take the short path up the hill and you'll be looking down at the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river and canyon with a sweeping panoramic view of the Hafragilsfoss Waterfall. Enjoy!

 

Jökulsárgljúfur CanyonJökulsárgljúfur CanyonHafragilsfoss Waterfall, Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon
Vatnajökull National Park, Northeast Iceland

 


 

What to Pack:

  • Absolutely bring your camera for this one!
  • A clean cloth to wipe mist from the falls off your lenses.
  • Tripod, neutral density filters for long exposures.
  • Lunch or snacks and water. *
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses or warm layers as weather demands.
  • Comfortable shoes for hiking rocky terrain.

***There are no shops or food nearby and the gravel road is long so plan accordingly. I had a packed lunch, water and a full tank of gas for the car. It's a beautiful place for a picnic.

 



More Info & Photography Workshops Available:
www.TorvaTerra.com
Instagram @torvaterra
https://www.facebook.com/TorvaTerraPhotography

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) Canyon Hafragilsfoss Iceland Jökulsárgljúfur National Northeast Panoramic Park River Selfoss Vatnajökull Waterfall coordinates dettifoss gps guide hike hiking how iceland location parking photograph photography to trip http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/8/guide-to-hiking-dettifoss-selfoss-waterfalls-in-northern-iceland Sat, 01 Aug 2015 18:01:00 GMT
Kate's Fireworks Technique - 2015 Update http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/7/kates-fireworks-technique---2015-update

"Painting the Town"

"O Beautiful For Halcyon Skies"
Fireworks over Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA

 

Hello all! For this years Independence Day celebration I photographed the fireworks at the scenic Steel Stacks in nearby Bethlehem, PA. Every year I try to create something different. A few years ago I posted a blog about a unique technique that I came up. The idea centers around using a long exposure and a black card to block and reveal the lens only when a firework bursts. You choose how much of each burst to "keep." Typically I'll use a 30 second to one minute exposure to artfully craft my photograph. For a detailed description of how to, check out the prior blog entry copied below...

July 4th BethlehemJuly 4th BethlehemIndependence Day
Bethlehem, PA
4th of July4th of JulyIndependence Day
Bethlehem, PA
   


Gallery of photographs from past years: [Fireworks]


 

2013 Blog: http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/7/kates-2013-fireworks-technique

 

"Painting the Town"Painting the Town

"Painting the Town"
Fireworks over New York City, NY

 

Fireworks are one of my favorite subjects! Every year, I photograph them at a different location and with a different style. In 2013 I used a special long exposure technique that I have been tinkering with to capture the Fourth of July fireworks and New York City skyline. I like to think of it as light painting on a grander scale. Read on to learn the how and why:

With my camera's shutter speed set to 30 seconds I used a black card to repeatedly block or reveal the lens during the exposure. Every time a firework would go up I would wait until it burst to quickly remove the card. Then I would immediately recover it and wait until the next big burst. In one single 30 second exposure, I may have covered and uncovered my lens several dozen times.

Why do this? Just leaving the shutter open unblocked for 30 seconds would make an overly bright image with all this clutter of every firework and light motion. If you want more than one firework in a single image you would otherwise have to stack several images and Photoshop them together. This technique with blocking the lens when there is no active firework allows the rest of the image to remain properly exposed. That way you only capture the best moments... the bursts!

This kind of creative technique gives you results based on your movements and artistry. You get to "create" the shot. I think its fun!

 

Fun fact: I got the idea from my film developing days. To dodge an enlargement you would physically block part of it out. I combined that technique with my light painting experience and came up with this.

 


See the results of Kate's firework techniques from past years: [Fireworks]

   

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) blocking city exposure firework fireworks how learn light long photograph photography technique to travel http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/7/kates-fireworks-technique---2015-update Mon, 06 Jul 2015 01:12:01 GMT
How to Find Your "Borrowed" Photos Online http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/how-to-find-your-borrowed-photos-online

 

How to Find Your "Borrowed" Photographs Online:

Alpenglow and WildflowersAlpenglow and WildflowersGrand Tetons

Kate's Notes:
An early morning in the Grand Tetons. I photographed this scene as the sun rose and the alpenglow was just kissing the mountaintops. By sitting on the ground, I was able to use the low angle to showcase the field of arrowleaf balsamroot flowers. This was one of my favorite experiences that I will never forget.


The internet is an amazing place for a photographer but it also has its downfalls. Sigh. One of which is the ease for others to steal borrow use your work without your permission or giving you proper credit. Sometimes you just find your work shared around on social media or blogs. Other times you might find outright theft with another person selling your image or using it to advertise their product! Yes this has happened to me. In this blog I am going to show you how you can quickly find where your images are being used online. Best of all, you can do this for free!

The image above, "Alpenglow and Wildflowers" is one of my most shared and "borrowed" images online. I often find it pop up in unexpected places. Wanna know how to find your image online? It's this easy:


Step One: Go to
https://images.google.com


Step Two: Click the camera icon (red arrow) and either "paste your image url" or "upload an image" as instructed.


Step Three: Hit search and a list of all the places Google found your image online will be displayed. In my case I am okay with these uses I found in popular news articles because they gave me proper credit as the photographer. However, you might find some more nefarious places that your work is being displayed.


As a photographer you have to make a personal decision as to what uses you find bother you. In the United States your images are protected by copyright laws as soon as you press the shutter and create the photograph. Although there is a base protection once you create the image, if you register your photographs with the U.S. Copyright Offices you get additional protection in case you have to go to court over the situation. The American Society of Media Photographers has a great step by step tutorial for how to register your images online here. If you do find an image has been used online without your permission there are a number of steps you can take including filing a DCMA Take-Down Notice. For more info on what to do if you find your photos have been used without your consent check out this amazing article by PhotoAttorney.com here
. Photo Attorney also has some other informative articles on the legality of dealing with copyright infringement on their site which I highly recommend.

Another important thing to consider about image protection is watermarking your photos. You can do this easily in Lightroom or Photoshop by adding some text over your image. A mistake that I often see is a photographer just pasting the word COPYRIGHT or DO NOT COPY over the image. If a random person sees your photo online the word copyright isn't going to mean much to them! Put your website, name or both as your watermark so that if someone sees your image they will at least be able to find you. It is up to personal preference how large to make the text or where to place it. I have toyed with my own watermark many times over the years. Lately Ive been placing it on the bottom right so that it is there but hopefully isn't too distracting.

In the meantime, toss a few of your favorite or most popular photographs into the Google Image Search and see what you can find.



Bonus / Alternative Search Option:  Tineye is another popular reverse image search engine to find your photos online.

 

 

 

Helpful links:

Registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office: https://asmp.org/tutorials/online-registration-eco.html
What to do if you find your work "borrowed:" http://www.photoattorney.com/help-ive-been-infringed/
How to protect your images online: http://www.photoattorney.com/five-things-you-can-do-to-protect-your-online-images/
How to file a DCMA Take-Down notice: https://nppa.org/page/5617

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) borrowed copyright dcma do google image online photo photograph photography search steal stolen tineye to used what http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/how-to-find-your-borrowed-photos-online Sun, 26 Apr 2015 23:12:49 GMT
Guide to Finding and Photographing Fox Kits http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/guide-to-finding-and-photographing-fox-kits

 

Guide to Finding and Photographing Fox Kits:

Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania
Springtime is prime time for a wildlife photographer. The vast stark coat of winter is shaken off to reveal green flora and flowing water.  As this cycle renews, so do the populations of your local wildlife. In spring you can begin to find lush nests and dens with bright eyed young ones. It is the finding though that can be tough. As a photographer living in Pennsylvania springtime brings to me one of my favorite subjects, fox kits. While red foxes can be found throughout most of North America, to find a fox den you first must understand the where and why of its location. 

For me the two best places to photograph foxes are in meadows bordering farms and near the beach in sand dunes edged by marsh or maritime forest. A slow drive around sunrise or sunset around scenic farmlands is one of the best ways to find all types of wildlife. While that method relies on luck, there is another more surefire way that relies on understanding your subject. Red foxes begin to seek out their natal dens early in the winter. While they will sometimes dig their own den, a fox prefers to use what is already available. A groundhog burrow or old dilapidated farm structure is perfect. Foxes need food and water so a den will always be within a few hundred yards of a stream, pond, ditch or marshy area. Another important aspect to finding a den is timing. Foxes will usually meet up to mate soon after the turn of the year in January or February. While out and about in the wintertime I will often watch for tracks or scat in the snow, jot down the spot and return to the area to find the den that spring.

Trail BlazerTrail BlazerRed Fox
New Jersey Shore
Pre-planning greatly increases your chances of finding a den early in the season. We know that the mother fox, or vixen, likely mated in January or February and with a gestation period of 49-58 days that means her kits will be born in March or early April. The kits are born blind and deaf so it will be a few weeks before they are grown enough to be out of the den exploring. Although kits have been known to start venturing out as early as three weeks old, you will usually see them older at about five weeks when they are out long enough to observe.

Aside from tracking them in the winter, one of the best ways to find a fox den is to just take a slow scenic drive out on some old country roads. Start looking in mid April when the kits are out and playful. The best times of day to find them are either very early or late just before sunset. I find that the kits usually spend midday sleeping deep in the den and then tumble out just as golden hour begins. They will pounce on each other and bound about or laze in the sun while they wait for mom to return.

Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania
Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania
Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania

If you’ve found your den by driving, the best thing to do is pull over safely so that you can use your car as a blind to photograph them from. Kits from a den by the road are used to cars going by but will likely be startled if you attempt to exit the vehicle. If you visit often they might get comfortable enough that you can slowly attempt a better position on the ground at a safe distance. Keep an eye on the kits and watch their behavior to know that you aren’t bothering them. If they suddenly perk up in fear, bark or huff at you, or simply run away learn from what you did to startle them. Give them more space and try your best not to disturb them.

If a low eye level image is your goal, there are a few ways to go about it safely. Kits that live in dens in public parks or populated areas are usually accustomed to seeing people so if you get lucky and find one, you can get great photos without needing a blind at all. Just keep in mind that these are wild animals so give them space and always observe them on their terms. This is when a long telephoto lens, think 500mm, is your friend! If the den is on private property a few kind words to the home or landowner, maybe offering a print usually gets you permission to go onto the property. You can set up a blind (search for them online or craft your own) either before sunrise or during midday when the foxes aren’t around. At first set up as far as you can to minimize disturbing them and enter it early to wait quietly for them to emerge. Luckily, fox kits are curious and accepting creatures. It shouldn’t be long before you are watching them play and explore. With a little bit of planning and patience you will soon be observing the kits grow up right before your eyes.

Good luck with your photo adventures and I hope that this guide helps you get your dream fox photo this spring!

Fox KitsFox KitsThis photograph is of two wild fox kits from a den that I found in a meadow near a dilapidated barn in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania.

 

"...As a photographer living in Pennsylvania springtime brings to me one of my favorite subjects, fox kits."


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) baby blinds den digital finding fox guide how kits learn locating location nature photograph photographer photographing photography spring tips tricks wildlife young http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/4/guide-to-finding-and-photographing-fox-kits Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:00:00 GMT
Outdoor Photographer "Behind The Shot" Feature http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/outdoor-photographer-behind-the-shot-feature

Outdoor Photographer "Behind The Shot" Feature

 

I am so honored and proud that Outdoor Photographer Magazine has featured my puffin series for Behind The Shot! OP is a renowned resource for photographers, it is a real privilege for me. Thank you! Along with my photographs, I wrote an article about my process and how I created this shot.

Here is an excerpt:

"Perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle is a Nordic island country that’s almost as well known for its tumultuous Viking history as it is for its ethereal volcanic landscape. Geologically young and full of promise, Iceland is appealing to nature photographers for the latter. What many overlook, however, is that Iceland is also home to a rich variety of wildlife, especially birds. In fact, the summer is when the revered midnight sun provides hours of gorgeous soft light for landscape photography. On the other hand, this same time is also when more than half of the world’s population of Atlantic puffins gathers there to nest. This is precisely why one hot and humid day early in July I packed it all up to spend a few weeks in Iceland solo in search of my perfect puffin photograph..."

To read the rest of the article click [here]

Puffin in WildflowersPuffin in WildflowersPuffin and alpine cinquefoil wildflowers
Iceland

As seen on Outdoor Photographer
"Behind the Shot" March 2015.

 

http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/blog/behind-the-shot/2015/03/behind-the-shot-atlantic-puffins-of-iceland-by-kate-garibaldi-east-fjords-iceland.html


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) Atlantic Puffins of Iceland Behind East Fjords Garibaldi Iceland Kate OP Outdoor Photographer Shot The article by magazine photography http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2015/3/outdoor-photographer-behind-the-shot-feature Fri, 06 Mar 2015 04:19:00 GMT
Q: What lenses do you use? http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/9/q-what-lenses-do-you-use

Q: What lenses do you use / recommend?

 

CuriosityCuriosityBurrowing Owl
Southern United States

Photographed with the Sigma 50-500mm lens

 

  • Quick tip: Prime means that a lens has a fixed focal length, or one view. Zoom lenses can change their view to get visually closer or farther from the subject.

 

Lenses all depend on what you want to photograph. I have wide angle lenses for landscapes and telephoto zooms lenses for wildlife. I recommend zoom lenses for wildlife rather than primes because wildlife do move around and at only one fixed focal length you can miss so many great shots. Back in the day zoom lenses were not as sharp as primes but not anymore. Now newer zoom lenses are just as fast and sharp as anything on the market!

If money is a factor I highly recommend the Sigma 50-500mm OS which goes for about $1500. It has amazing bang for the buck as the image quality is on point. This is the lens that I use and I love it! If you check out my Wildlife gallery almost every single photo was taken with that lens. Many times I have shared a photograph with another professional photographer and they are shocked and surprised to find that I took it with this lens. I consider it an anomaly of glass as usually super zooms at that price range aren't high quality but it exceeds expectations and outperforms many more expensive lenses.

 

Brown Bear Cub
Alaska

Photographed with the Sigma 50-500mm lens

 

Real deal high quality telephoto pro level lenses are all extremely expensive and rightfully so. You really do get what you pay for. Most of them are $10k and up. If you have that kind of cash to burn take a look at the new Canon 200-400 f/4 IS L. It has a built in 1.4x teleconverter that turns it into a 280-560mm. The quality of this lens is breathtaking. It is amazing and I definitely want one.

Another option is to get a prime lens and use a 1.4x tc to get extra reach when you need it. This is a tried and true method, the 1.4x tcs are very good. However, the 2x tcs which then double your focal length are not as good. You lose too much light and image quality for my tastes. But this option isn't exactly cheap either. For example, you could grab a 300mm f/2.8L IS II for $6,600 and a 1.4x vIII for $450. The tc would then optically make the 300mm a 600mm f4. If you just bought an actual 600mm f/4 lens they run $12,000. So you have a lot of options with what to do for reach for wildlife. Again I still prefer zoom lenses over primes for the versatility.

 

  • Quick tip: IS and OS mean the same thing, that the lens has image (optical) stabilization built in! This helps keep the image sharp when you are hand holding the lens.

 

If this is a lot to take in, I say go with the Sigma 50-500mm. It is high quality but not as awesome as the $10k+ glass. Start there and then when you go on big trips if you want something even higher quality you can always rent a lens!

As for landscapes, I recommend having two wide angle lenses, one extra wide and one "normal." I use the Canon 10-22mm $650 and the Sigma 17-50mm OS $520. Also sometimes with landscapes I use a telephoto lens to zoom in on a mountain top or something that I find interesting in a scene. So in those rare circumstances I use my Canon 70-200 or that Sigma 50-500 to grab a shot like that.

 

East Fjords
Iceland

Photographed with the Canon 10-22mm lens

 

The final type of lens that I use are macro lenses. I have the Canon 100mm 2.8, the non IS version. It runs about $600 new and is tack sharp. The IS version goes for $950 and honestly with macro you are almost always on your tripod anyway so I think its better to save the extra cash and grab the non IS copy.

 

Gerbera Daisy

Photographed with the Canon 100mm macro lens

 

 

When I go adventuring I usually pack the Sigma 50-500, Canon 10-22, Sigma 17-50, my filter pouch with lots of fun glass, remote release, tripod, extra batteries, etc and hit the road!

The most important thing is just to find what works for you and your budget. At the end of the day your camera and lens are merely tools for you to craft your imagery. What matter is that you are out there having fun!

 

Aerial Alaska: Glacial PeaksAerial Alaska: Glacial PeaksAn aerial view of the glaciated ridges and peaks of the Alaska range in Denali National Park.

Aerial image photographed with the Canon 10-22mm lens

 


 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) canon lens lenses macro photograph prime sigma telephoto what zoom http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/9/q-what-lenses-do-you-use Thu, 04 Sep 2014 22:31:04 GMT
Looking back at Iceland. Initial thoughts... http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/7/looking-back-at-iceland-initial-thoughts

-Looking back at Iceland. Initial thoughts from my lil journal:-

 

So I spent two weeks in Iceland and it rained almost day every day except for one afternoon and one morning while I was there. Just bad luck. It was hard for me because it was a trip that I had planned and looked forward to for years. In fact I was originally going to do half the trip with another tour co so I wouldn't have to drive so much myself, but I couldn't make it work to fit my long shot list. I did the entire coastal loop of the country. No joke I checked the odometer after and I drove 2285 km or 1419 miles total. I saw a lot of things! All said, I was fortunate to have the opportunity come up that I could go at all so I am not ungrateful for the experience.

Basically, I had a list of places that I wanted to go to and did all my research. So much research, I'm a nut about planning. However, you cannot control the weather and you have to make due with whatever the circumstances. It broke my heart to see the lack of light and overcast white sheet of a sky as I was standing at a scene that I knew would be amazing if only the sun was present. But I really tried to do my best no matter what.

This photograph is of one of my top 3 places to visit on my shot list. I was so determined that I stayed overnight in the lupine field waiting for any scrap of light or change in the sky. It was a lesson in patience. Well I waited and I got a few images that I feel okay about this being one of them. I just really don't like that white sky.

Overall instead of being discouraged, I am more determined than ever to revisit Iceland in the future so that I can apply my experience from the first go around to capturing even better images next time. In the meantime I am getting a lot of practice in noise reduction post processing techniques..

 


Church in lupine wildflowers
Iceland

"Lupine wildflowers forever and a church to celebrate them in."

 

 

"...you cannot control the weather and you have to make due with whatever the circumstances."



 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) adventure iceland journal photograph photography trip http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/7/looking-back-at-iceland-initial-thoughts Sun, 20 Jul 2014 21:04:52 GMT
Creating Dramatic Views http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/7/creating-dramatic-views

-Quick Tips for Photographers-

 

Sometimes the easiest way to create a dynamic photograph is by using a dramatic point of view. Point of view refers to the angle that the image is taken from, or how high or low you were when you took it. When you photograph a subject such as wildlife, and you get low it brings you to their eye level. If you get even lower to the ground you give the subject a sense of power or drama as it looms above the viewer. (A low angle also adds distance between the subject and background which helps if you want a creamy bokeh aka soft backdrop.) With landscapes you can really utilize foreground elements when you get low to give your images more depth. We as humans are very used to seeing things at standing level so use point of view to change the way that you see things.

 

Here are a few examples:

 

Up High - A church in Iceland photographed with my camera on a tripod set up as tall as it goes:

 

Church in lupine wildflowers
Iceland

"Lupine wildflowers forever and a church to celebrate them in."

 

 

Down Low - Now that same church but this time I crouched low into the field of wildflowers:

 

Church in lupine wildflowers
Iceland


 

Up High - Getting up high and angling the camera down really shows off Hallgrímskirkja's unique cobblestones:

 

HallgrímskirkjaHallgrímskirkjaHallgrímskirkja Church
Reykjavík, Iceland

 

 

With wildlife, you can really see how a low eye level approach makes a big difference. Note the creamy bokeh:

Wild fox kit
Pennsylvania
Snowy owl
Ontario, Canada
Raccoon
Northern New Jersey
CuriosityCuriosityBurrowing Owl
Southern United States
Oystercatcher Chick Puffin in WildflowersPuffin in WildflowersPuffin and alpine cinquefoil wildflowers
Iceland

As seen on Outdoor Photographer "Behind the Shot" March 2015.

 

Next time you are out photographing, try getting super low or up high and create a dramatic point of view!

 

Thanks for reading! Good luck out there photographer friends!

 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) dramatic dynamic eye high how level low of photograph photography point stand to tripod view http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/7/creating-dramatic-views Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:18:15 GMT
Resources for Photographers http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/resources-for-photographers

-Resources for Photographers-

I want to share with you all some amazing resources to help photographers learn more about our craft! There are many places online that have free video tutorials given by industry professionals to teach you the what, where, how and why of every aspect of photography. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Video Based Learning:

B&H Event Space - B&H hosts free workshops and seminars in NYC by pros, they upload the video and you can watch the seminar for free at home! There are over 150 videos on more topics than I could hope to list. My favorites are the ones that discuss landscape photography, off camera flash, and post processing. Really an amazing collection with something for everyone. Did I mention it's free?

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA2A7966A44E77011

 

CreativeLIVE - CL also posts video tutorials but these are a bit different, more geared towards professionals. They stream videos of pros in studio or in the field teaching you from the ground up. The videos are free to watch when they stream, kind of like television when your favorite show airs on a certain day and time. Then you can choose to buy them to watch any time, like buying your television show on DVD. CL gets big names in the industry and many videos go in depth into exactly how to market and sell your work. The neat thing is that they have a calendar of upcoming shows so if you see anything interesting you can RSVP and it will send you an email to remind you when your show is coming on. Worth a gander, especially if you are making the jump from hobbyist to professional. Well even us pros can learn from our peers, right?

http://www.creativelive.com/photography

 

Adorama TV - Another video tutorial collection, ATV has a large amount of short films that go over specific camera and lighting techniques. This is a good resource to learn a particular skill or to see how a certain pro creates their signature style.

https://www.youtube.com/user/adoramaTV

 

Westcott University - WU has videos and articles that cover tips, reviews and gear guides. This is a great place to learn about lighting tricks.

https://www.westcottu.com

 

Articles - Essential Reading Materials:

My favorite article on macro lenses: http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/gear/lenses/macro-lens-guide.html#.U53-C7GtTnc

 

 

Thanks for reading! Good luck out there photographer friends!

 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) guide guides how learn learning photograph photography resources to video videos http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/resources-for-photographers Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:53:17 GMT
Snowy "WOwl" - The Snowy Owl Irruption of 2013 http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/snowy-wowl-the-snowy-owl-irruption-of-2013

-Snowy Owl Irruption 2013-

As of December 2013, the Eastern United States is undergoing an exciting and rare irruption of snowy owls. The number of individual owls as well as the wide area that they are dispersed in is fantastic for birders and photographers alike. Before I get into my personal experience covering the owls this year, let me first discuss the background of the entire situation.

Snowy owls come from the far north in places like the Canadian Tundra and up through the Arctic Circle. Every few years or so and for varying reasons the owls venture south in the winter. Because it does not occur every year, this phenomenon is called an irruption rather than a true migration. Speculation puts the cause of these irruptions on two main factors. One reason that the owls fly south is when there is a shortage of their usual prey which is lemmings. A food shortage would cause them to venture out in desperation and to also hunt a wider range of prey species. The second most discussed reason is quite the opposite. Some believe that an irruption like the one that we are currently experiencing could be caused by an overabundance of prey which makes an overabundance of snowy owls. It could be that so many owls made it to adulthood that they were pushed in great numbers out of their usual wintering range. Whatever the reasoning, 2013 is proving to be exceptional for sightings of these beautiful birds!

 

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl at Forsythe NWR

 

My own personal experience with owls this year has led me cruising the coastlines in search of snowy owls on the beach. Living in Pennsylvania, I headed out to New Jersey to check the marshes and open sandy beaches. My heart was in search of an owl on a sand dune with a spike of grass for texture. Reports were flying in from all up and down the coast, sightings of owls in the sand. I spent an entire morning scouring the shore and miles of dunes at Sandy Hook, a great birding spot, but to no avail. My next favorite New Jersey birding hot spot down the line is Barnegat and then Island Beach State Park. While on my way to Barnegat, I got an alert that an owl was spotted even farther south at the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Forsythe being another favorite of mine, I knew that I would be passing up the sandy dune photograph that I wanted so badly in favor of a sure clear view of an owl. Less than two hours drive later and I was set up at the owl.

Snowy owls are just gorgeous to behold. A fun fact is that the male snowys are mostly white whereas the females have much more pronounced markings on them. Juvenile birds also have a greater number of darker markings. Knowing this, I was able to identify the Forsythe owl as a young female snowy even as I was walking up

I stayed and photographed the snowy owl until there was not a drop of light left.

 

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl at Forsythe NWR

 

More searching and a week later brought an entirely different situation. Snow! While I originally had my heart set on a sandy dune photo of a snowy owl, I could not pass up looking for one farther inland when a sudden snowstorm blanketed the area in fresh powder. A great lead about an owl not 30 minutes from home led me out to a snow covered cornfield. These birds were truly having a spectacular irruption to be so far and wide! I spent most of the day in the snow freezing and watching the owl sit and squint as they do. Wildlife photography is seldom if ever glamorous. (Ask me some time about the fire ants in the swamp or the eyeglass cracking cold of the far north. But I digress.) Thank goodness for my electric gloves and super thick winter boots. I could never be a snowy owl. After hours of waiting, camera in hand, the snowy owl took off low over the field after a small flock of doves. Happy times for the patient photographer!

I will still be out photographing snowy owls for the duration of the irruption. For now at least I am very thankful and pleased to have captured this image:

 

High Key SnowHigh Key SnowSnowy Owl Pennsylvania Snowy Owl in Flight

 

For those interested in seeing one of these wild snowy owls in person, I highly recommend checking the Forsythe NWR as it is still the most likely spot that you will find one. As with any wild animal, finding one can be difficult and you increase your chances by going to a place like this. The refuge is set up really nice. You actually drive through the marsh on Wildlife Road which is raised so that you do not even have to walk the miles and miles through muck or sand you would elsewhere!

 

To find out more about the refuge click here: Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

 

To track sightings of the snowy owls across the Northeast check out this site which lists reports: NemesisBird.com

 

To learn more about photographing owls check out my: Tips and Techniques for Photographing Birds in Flight

 

Thanks for reading! Good luck out there photographer friends!

 

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) 2013 bird birds flying forsythe hook irruption jersey new owl owls pennsylvania photograph sandy snowy http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/12/snowy-wowl-the-snowy-owl-irruption-of-2013 Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:35:34 GMT
Kate's Fireworks Technique for 2013 http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/7/kates-2013-fireworks-technique

"Painting the Town"Painting the Town

"Painting the Town"
Fireworks over New York City, N.Y.

Fireworks are one of my favorite subjects! Every year, I photograph them at a different location and with a different style. In 2013 I used a special long exposure technique that I have been tinkering with to capture the Fourth of July fireworks and New York City skyline. I like to think of it as light painting on a grander scale. Read on to learn the how and why:

With my camera's shutter speed set to 30 seconds I used a black card to repeatedly block or reveal the lens during the exposure. Every time a firework would go up I would wait until it burst to quickly remove the card. Then I would immediately recover it and wait until the next big burst. In one single 30 second exposure, I may have covered and uncovered my lens several dozen times.

Why do this? Just leaving the shutter open unblocked for 30 seconds would make an overly bright image with all this clutter of every firework and light motion. If you want more than one firework in a single image you would otherwise have to stack several images and Photoshop them together. This technique with blocking the lens when there is no active firework allows the rest of the image to remain properly exposed. That way you only capture the best moments... the bursts!

This kind of creative technique gives you results based on your movements and artistry. You get to "create" the shot. I think its fun!

Fun fact: I got the idea from my film developing days. To dodge an enlargement you would physically block part of it out. I combined that technique with my light painting experience and came up with this.


See the results of Kate's firework techniques from past years: [Fireworks]

 

   

 

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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) blocking exposure firework fireworks how light long photograph technique to http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/7/kates-2013-fireworks-technique Mon, 08 Jul 2013 04:46:02 GMT
Review: Horus Bennu Tripod http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/6/review-horus-bennu-tripod

-My Tripod, A Love Story-

I originally published this review on Photography-On-The.Net. Since then I have gotten quite a few friends interested in Horus Bennu tripods. More than a dozen people who have seen mine bought one for themselves and love it just as much! I am reposting my review here on my blog to share the love. If you are looking for a new tripod or ball head, this is a brand to seriously consider! I've had mine for about two years now and going strong. Oh and before you ask, no, Horus Bennu isn't sponsoring me or paying me for this. I just love my tripod and really feel that it is an amazing bargain. Without further ado...

Horus Bennu Tripod in North Carolina

Review of: HorusBennu C-3540V Carbon Fiber Tripod & LX-5 Ball Head Combo

I ordered the HB C-3540v and LX-5 set on 8/8/11 from the eBay.com seller Imkstore. With the expedited shipping option, the set was sent out the next day from their site in Korea and arrived to me in PA on 8/12/11.

C-3540v Tripod Stats:
Folded Height / Ext Height / Ext Height with CC: 21.26in (54cm) / 56.69in (144cm) / 65.74in (167 cm)
Weight: 3.41lb ( 1.55kg)
Leg type: 9x Carbon fiber, Anti-rotational legs standard
Leg sections: 4 sections @ 31mm, 28mm, 25mm, 22mm
Max Load: 26.45lb (12kg)
Feet: Variable spike standard
Bag: Yes, zippered, handle & removable padded shoulder strap

LX-5 Ball Head Stats:
Height: 4.13in (10.5cm)
Weight: 1.34in (610g)
Max Load: 26.45lb (12kg)
Ball size: 44mm
Ball head to Tripod attachment: 3/8, 1/4in dual screw
Type: Knob (not QR lever),
Includes: Plate, and blue logo velvet pouch slip cover

As promised, here is my review of the HorusBennu C-3540V Carbon Fiber Tripod & LX-5 Ball Head Combo. Im going to expand upon my initial review as seen in the Horus Bennu Products thread. This is my first serious professional tripod so I cant use extended experience to compare it to its peers. Im going to try my best to give a thorough review of it. I was looking for a tripod (and head) for a long time and checked out the Feisol CT-3441s as well as the usual Manfrotto 055prob, Benro C585, etc. It ended up being a close one between the Feisol and HB. I chose the HB because: it comes with anti-rotational legs standard, the kit with head is considerably cheaper than just the legs of competitors, and it has variable spike feet.

My experience with the eBay seller Imkstore was excellent. Ive heard that other sellers are bit more difficult to deal with but I had no issues. Imkstore was quick to respond to me and I had no trouble understanding them. I went with them because they offered expedited shipping that was calculated as taking less than a week. Other seller’s expedited shipping is quoted as taking almost the same time to arrive as their standard shipping (several weeks) so it makes no sense to me. Also, Imkstore had the “make an offer” feature and I was able to save a bit on the price by haggling. This set does come straight from Korea so if any I issues do arise, it isn’t as easy as walking into a local store for a return or exchange.

I’ll start off by saying that the legs on this tripod are really thick! The skinniest section is 22mm and the largest section is 31mm diameter. Despite having such thick legs, the tripod is extremely light. Weight was an important factor in my tripod selection and I had no trouble carrying the C-3540V while hiking yesterday. Overall the set up really exceeds expectations. It is very solid and stable and comes across as high quality. In fact it looks very much like a Gitzo, wink wink.

The tripods that Ive used in the past had flip locks on the leg sections so the twist locks were a new thing for me. I was surprised to find how quickly I got used to them. They require no force to open or close, and once closed stay snug. The build quality on the locks is pretty good, but they are plastic so I wouldn’t be too rough on them.

The 9x carbon on the tripod legs impresses me, but Im not so sure about the matte finish on them. The legs aren’t rough or bumpy, rather its almost like the feeling of a chalk board. It could just be that Im used to aluminum tripods and my inexperience with cf models. Its not terrible its just odd and I am nit picking every little thing I can think of to give a full review. Ill update if I ever figure it out.

The height of the tripod seems to be pretty spot on. Im pretty short at 5ft 5 inches, any shorter and I would have some trouble. Without the center column extended, I have to stand up a bit tall (not quite tippy toes) to look through the camera. So this works almost perfectly for me and I think taller photographers would have no issue, especially if you extend the column.

The C-3540V does have 4 leg positions: closed, standard, macro, and almost flat. When using the macro position you need to raise the cc just slightly. When using the flat position, you must raise it almost all the way. All of the positions are very stable and I didn’t notice any excessive vibration or wobble. There is a drop down hook in the cc where you can hang a bag or weight for added stability. Also, with the variable spike feet, you can alter your traction as needed.

The ball head also feels very solid and the movements are buttery smooth. With a 44mm ball it is very strong but has a large footprint. (I don’t see this head being able to be used on most of the travel tripods that fold inward onto themselves.) It locks up tight with my 7d + 70-200mm +1.4xTC and definitely could handle much more. There is no droop, and I don’t have to crank the knob to tighten it. The red color put me off at first but it’s a muted red and it doesn’t bother me as much as Id thought. I do still wish that it was black but Its not a big deal.

At first, I wished that the LX-5 had a quick release plate, but after using it I find that I like the knob better. It feels more secure. In general the knobs of the head are very secure and don’t require force to open or close. The rubber grips on the knobs aren’t fixed to the knob itself and will rotate if you force it closed too hard. I don’t really consider it to be a negative thing or a con to the design, as it saves you from over cranking the knob. They don’t rotate until you turn it when there’s no more to turn. I hope that makes sense.

All in all I feel like I can trust this tripod with my gear and not have to worry about it. The only things that I don’t like about it are cosmetic and pretty inconsequential. Im very happy with it thus far and Ill update with any thoughts or issues as time goes on. If anyone has any questions or requests for specific pictures of it, please let me know. Thanks for reading!

Summary AKA Read from here to skip wall of text:

I love the set and highly recommend it because: very light, great price, anti rotational legs, carbon fiber, several leg settings, 44mm strong ball head.

Recap of Cons:
1.) As far as I know you can only find this set up on eBay straight from Korea, therefore if you have any issues they will be more complicated by a distance and language barrier. I haven’t had an problems so far, thankfully, so I cant speak on their customer service.
2.) The finish on the legs of the tripod is very matte, to me it feels a bit odd but it could just be how cf tripods feel.
3.) The ball head is red, it is a muted red, but its still red. I find now that I have it that the color doesn’t bother me.

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Pictures! My pc is down so this entire thing was put together and uploaded from my phone so please forgive my unprocessed images and typos!





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kate@torvaterra.com (Torva Terra LLC) ball ballhead bennu c-3540v carbon fiber gear head horus lx-5 review tripod tripods http://torvaterra.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/6/review-horus-bennu-tripod Wed, 19 Jun 2013 19:13:06 GMT