Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography: Blog https://bradycabe.com/blog en-us (C) Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) Tue, 23 Mar 2021 07:16:00 GMT Tue, 23 Mar 2021 07:16:00 GMT https://bradycabe.com/img/s/v-12/u919657913-o825608801-50.jpg Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography: Blog https://bradycabe.com/blog 120 80 Natural Light vs Flash vs LED https://bradycabe.com/blog/2018/2/natural-light-vs-flash-vs-led window.picrSettings = { userId: "ze2y9wpq875lv", profileId: "0le2dezzjdkn3" };

Natural Light, Flash, or LED?

milky-way-lighting-comparisonmilky-way-lighting-comparison

Flash or LED for Astrophotography - which is best for light painting?

Just like many other aspects of photography, the answer to the question above is largely situational, and sometimes not adding light is the answer. I’ve already talked about how using off camera flash for astrophotography can improve your images, but what if you don’t have a flash or simply prefer to use an LED instead? Below I’m going to argue that you should use both for different situations, and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get the gear you need. 

Why add light?

Let’s recap on why adding light to your Milky Way images can be a good thing. In short, when you add light to an otherwise dark scene, your camera captures more information at a higher quality than can be achieved without adding light - in most situations. Our goal when capturing images should include technical soundness, in addition to the other elements. We want our images to look good in a final, large format print.

If you’re in a dark sky area, with little to no light pollution, your shadowed areas of the image can end up noisy or grainy in the final edit. This is mostly due to the high ISO settings used to help capture these nighttime scenes. When trying to manipulate this high ISO image in post production, it can result in some unwanted shadow noise or grain. At lower ISO settings, your camera can typically produce a higher quality image after bumping the shadows in post production for daylight scenes. However, we need the high ISO to capture the details of the Milky Way and using lower ISO in a dark scene will simply not capture enough light information to make a useable image. Adding light to the foreground is the best compromise to this obstacle that can result in a well-exposed final image. 

When to use Flash?

IMG_9996IMG_9996 I typically use a flash when my subject is static and can easily be lit from the side, and at the angle I desire. Using a flash to light your scene will freeze moving subjects, like this wave crashing in the photo. This can be useful for seascapes if you wish to capture moving water and simulate a fast shutter speed. It will create a high speed effect, freezing the water. If you have a moving human subject, the flash will burn the exposure of the subject into the frame. If they are standing in front of a light background of sky, the flash exposure will make the subject appear ghost-like. Using a flash offers very repeatable results and takes the guesswork out of the added light exposure. 

The best part is that you don't need any fancy flash accessories or equipment. Any old flash will do the trick, as long as it has a "test" button. Simply position your flash as desired and press the test button during your long exposure to add light. Adjust your flash power and angle to taste.

When to use LED?

IMG_1769IMG_1769 When photographing a shallow cave, it can be difficult to get an even exposure of the cave mouth using a flash. This is when sweeping an LED over the foreground can be the answer. A deeper cave would allow you to move back farther and fire the flash evenly on the rim of the cave. Keep the light source moving to avoid over-exposing an area, to help soften shadows, and to keep the lighting more even.  

Using an LED to light a seascape will give you a soft, almost ethereal feel to the scene compared to the harsh freeze-frame effect of the flash. I prefer to use the LED at high power and only light the water for a few seconds as a wave is splashing over rocks in my foreground. 

Deciding how you want the light source to interact with your scene will determine your choice of LED or flash use. 

When it doesn’t matter?

If your subject is static and you have ample room to position your light source, either LED or flash can get the job done. As soon as you have a moving subject in your foreground you should stop and think about which light source will yield the desired result; flash to freeze your subject or LED to show the movement.  

Tips & Tricks 

•Use a warming gel with any light source to better match the white balance of your scene and the night sky. Set your white balance manually to approximately 3800K and use an orange/warming gel on your flash or light source. Some LED panels come with an orange filter. Adjust your white balance to taste. 

•Positioning of your light source can have a huge impact on the mood of your scene. When the ground has interesting texture, hold the light source down low to accentuate sand dunes, grass, or rock formations. Holding the light directly above your camera gives a flatly lit effect like a mugshot. Consider holding the light at about chest level and off to the side of your scene can produce nice, practical lighting over your foreground.

•If your light is too concentrated to one side of your image, causing a bright spot, you may need to back away from the foreground with your light. The further away your light source is from your subject, the more evenly lit it will be. However, when you scoot back your light will appear more dim. After scooting back, turn up your flash power to compensate.

•If your camera has a highlight alert feature, switch this on to determine if your are over-exposing your scene with your light source. 

•Check your shot for unwanted shadows cast by your light source onto the scene. You might catch your tripod in the shot!

•Experiment with timing your flash burst during the exposure. When you "pop" the flash will determine the look of the image. Time it with the crashing wave or other movement. 

Have More Questions?

Contact me to schedule a one-on-one session to go over this or any other photography topic. Join the workshop newsletter below and be the first to know about new group workshops!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) astrophotography flash how info led light painting manual milky way night off off camera flash sky to tutorial https://bradycabe.com/blog/2018/2/natural-light-vs-flash-vs-led Tue, 06 Feb 2018 07:58:14 GMT
How and Where To View The Milky Way - San Luis Obispo County https://bradycabe.com/blog/2017/3/milky-way-over-san-luis-obispo-county IMG_9335IMG_9335San Simeon Pier Milky Way Over San Luis Obispo County

(Featured by SLO Tribune)

Until I garnered interest in the night skies, I honestly didn’t pay much attention to photographing them. It wasn’t until I saw wide angle photos of the Milky Way that I began the journey for myself and started exploring night photography. I'm always asking myself where can I shoot the Milky Way next? The answer seems to surprise many.

The truth is, unless you are in a large metropolitan area, seeing the Milky Way with the naked eye is a real possibility. The lights of Pismo, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay are bright, but if you head for the hills, the beach, or just a dark spot on the outskirts of town, you can typically observe and photograph the Milky Way as long as the conditions are good. 

Want to learn how to photograph the night sky? This is something we explore in depth during my astrophotography workshops.

 

How To See The Milky Way

  1. You have to know when to look. From about mid-October through February, it is not possible to see the Milky Way “core,” also referred to as the Great Rift by astronomers, from the Northern Hemisphere. When it does become visible in February, it can only be seen in the wee moments before sunrise, so set your alarms for at least two hours or so before sunrise. Once twilight begins, the stars fade and the sun begins to take over, washing out the Milky Way view. As the year progresses, the Milky Way rises earlier and earlier, until in the summer it is visible not long after sunset.
  2. Knowing where to look in the sky for the Milky Way is equally important. When it's first rising above the horizon, you will look in the Southeast portion of the sky. As it rises higher, your gaze will shift more due South. If you are in a location that doesn't have a clear view of the Southern sky, you might consider switching locations to increase visibility. Download a smartphone app like StarWalk 2 and you can check the Milky Way’s position in the future.  IMG_0475IMG_0475Los Osos/Morro Bay
  3. Check the moon phase, as well as moon rise and set times. If the moon is out and is between First Quarter and Last Quarter phases, its light will overpower the stars and make it difficult or impossible to see or photograph the Milky Way. Tip: even if the moon is bright, you can still get out and see the Milky Way if you plan around the moon rise and set times. Another great way to plan is using an app call PhotoPills. Not only can you get sun/moon rise and set times, but there's a myriad of other photography tools all fit into one great, easy-to-use, app. 
  4. Make the weather app on your smartphone your new best friend, so you always know where to find cloudless skies. I am constantly checking the hourly forecast before I go out shooting to see what regions near me might be best for star gazing. Around the coast it can be foggy and glum, but just a quick 10-minute drive inland can be clear as a bell. Tip: it never hurts to get a second opinion from a secondary app. Storm is a great app I enjoy and trust to plan my excursions. 
  5. Go somewhere dark. Unless all of the street lights in your area are off, take a drive out of your neighborhood. My favorite go-to spots locally are Shell Beach, Santa Margarita, Prefumo Canyon, and Montana de Oro. Move away from any street lights or other bright lights in your immediate vicinity. Driving with the intention of getting lost is always a recipe for discovery and adventure - I highly recommend it!

Where To Look In San Luis Obispo County

This section is obviously a little more tailored to my local friends, and is far from a complete list. If you live elsewhere, share your favorite star-gazing locations in the comments sections. Not sure where to go? Join a local astronomy club or just start driving away from town. 

Lopez Dr - Heading East

During the summer when the Milky Way is easily viewed during reasonable evening hours, we also experience bouts of marine layer clouds - low laying coastal fog that obscures any potential view of the stars. Oftentimes, the solution is to head inland. Head out towards Lake Lopez for clearer skies and drive past the lake, taking Upper Lopez Canyon Rd or Hi Mountain Rd, either of which will offer clearer skies in general. Hi Mountain Rd extends further east, and on particularly foggy nights can be your best bet. 

Windmill ZoomWindmill Zoom Spooky TreeSpooky Tree

Pismo/Shell Beach

The key to finding the stars in the Pismo and Shell Beach area is to head to the beach and navigate away from the bright lights of the hotels and neighborhoods. Between Shell Beach and Avila, there are plenty of great beach areas with public access that are good for star gazing. If you're still reading: Oceano and the dunes area can be excellent as well. Any evening in Pismo with clear skies and no moon should be considered an absolute treat in the Summer - enjoy!

IMG_7095-EditIMG_7095-Edit IMG_2170IMG_2170 IMG_1707IMG_1707

Avila Beach - Pirate’s Cove Parking Area

The parking area at Pirate’s Cove is situated far enough away from the lights of Pismo and Avila to offer great star gazing opportunities on a clear night. Paired with the sound of crashing waves and sweeping vistas, it’s a tough scene to beat. Be careful navigating the dirt parking lot that can be deeply rutted - don’t get stuck! Bring a friend and a flashlight, and don’t forget to lock your car if you venture out. 

My Cave at NightMy Cave at Night

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Prefumo Canyon Road

Take this winding road to the top of the ridge and pull into the large dirt parking area for panoramic views of Morro Rock looking North, downtown San Luis Obispo, and the Five Cities area. Beware of strong wind gusts, cows, and party animals on the weekends. 

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Montana de Oro, Los Osos

It doesn't get much darker than Montana de Oro, but it is also not permitted to park anywhere after 10 PM inside the park. So, your options are either to park outside of the state park and walk in or be dropped off. Good luck! If you can't figure out the parking situation here, Los Osos is on your way back out and offers plenty of dark sky opportunities - just avoid the neighborhood lights and you'll find plenty of stars. 

Milky Over MDOMilky Over MDO IMG_0475IMG_0475

Highway 46 Overlooking Morro Bay - Dirt Pullout

There are a few different pull outs as you climb 46 driving from Cambria to Paso Robles, and they get more and more scenic up until the point that the highway dips into the hills. If you’re lucky, you will be high enough above the frequent low-laying clouds of summer to get a clear look at the night sky above. 

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Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria, and San Simeon

All of these coastal communities are just small enough that light pollution is not typically a problem - just walk a stone’s throw from the nearest street lamp. Get out of the town areas and explore the beaches for the darkest skies and great Milky Way views. If you’re as far North as San Simeon, why not venture to Big Sur? This entire stretch is a night photographer’s dream - provided you have a clear sky. Pull over anywhere to take in the night sky, and stay until day break to explore. 

Galactic Morro Rock - Morro Bay Milky WayGalactic Morro Rock - Morro Bay Milky Way

Perseid WindmillPerseid Windmill IMG_9335IMG_9335

Santa Margarita, HWY 58, Carrizo Plain

East of Santa Margarita is dark, and gets darker the farther you drive. In the Summer months when the marine layer clouds have taken over the coast, I often find myself in Santa Margarita or Pozo, looking for lone oaks to photograph. Carrizo Plain National Monument is a bit of a trek, but it’s truly a beautiful area that we are fortunate to have as part of our county. 

Tree FireballTree Fireball

Soda Lake before SunriseSoda Lake before Sunrise

Well, did I forget any great spots? Let me know in the comments. 

When it comes down to it, San Luis Obispo county is a special area. With dark night skies and vast open areas to explore, the possibilities for photography and enjoying the night are boundless. 

If you're interested in learning how to capture images like these, check out my Astrophotography workshops! We go hands-on behind the camera and then in front of the computer screen, so you'll know how to capture and process dynamic night sky photos. See you out there!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) astrophotography gazing how info luis milky night obispo photograph san see sky slo star stars to way https://bradycabe.com/blog/2017/3/milky-way-over-san-luis-obispo-county Sat, 18 Mar 2017 06:59:16 GMT
The 500 and 300 Rule For Photographing The Night Sky https://bradycabe.com/blog/2017/2/the-500-and-300-rule-for-photographing-the-night-sky 500 Rule

Aside from gear related questions, probably the most common question I hear related to night photography would have to be, “what are your settings?” It’s a completely valid question, and I remember my puzzled reaction the first time I learned it for myself. Your settings for astrophotography are quite different from most other types of photography, particularly portraits and even general landscapes. But to talk about settings for capturing the Milky Way, we need to talk about your shutter speed and the 500 Rule.

Looking Up - PerseidsLooking Up - Perseids There are basically two different ways to capture the stars in the night sky; single, static points, or blurry, oblong trails. The 500 rule helps us figure out the longest shutter speed before our stars begin to appear as blurry oblong trails. If you are desiring to photograph star trail images, where the stars appear to streak through the sky, this is not the blog post for you - although you can still glean some insight from this topic. During my astrophotography workshops, we go into various ways to capture star trail images, and it’s really a lot of fun. 

One of my first night sky photographs, which I was quite proud of at the time, was a long exposure captured over several minutes. The resulting image shows the stars, not as fine points, but as short streaks. At first glance, the stars appear blurry and as a result the overall image suffered - I needed to use a faster shutter speed. There are some instances in which a short trail may be desired, but this post is about capturing static night sky images while minimizing star movement in the image.  

The 500 Rule for Full Frame Cameras 

To minimize star trails and capture a static image of the night sky, there is a simple formula that can be used to determine your shutter speed. You take the number 500 and divide it by the focal length of the lens you are using, and the resulting number will be the maximum recommend shutter speed in second Headlights and StarlightHeadlights and Starlight s. 

500/focal length = max shutter speed in seconds 

A 16mm lens on a full frame camera works out to just over 31 seconds maximum exposure or 500/16 = 31.25. A 35mm lens would give us a maximum exposure time of approximately 15 seconds, rounding up. Wide angle lenses provide a clear advantage when it comes to maximizing your shutter speed for gathering more light in your scene. 

Lenses I use for astrophotography, and their corresponding max shutter speeds:

14mm = 35 seconds (I usually shoot at 30)

16mm = 31 seconds (I usually shoot 30 seconds here also)

20mm = 25 seconds

35mm = 14 seconds (I routinely round up to 15 seconds)

50mm = 10 seconds (pictured left)

For most situations the 500 rule is sufficient for allowing the creation of large prints that will be viewed at a reasonable distance, with minimal visible streaking of the stars across your camera’s pixels. 

The 300 Rule for Crop Sensor Cameras ReflectingReflecting

If you're using a crop sensor camera, you'll need to use a slightly different formula.

300/focal length = max shutter speed in seconds 

This is because a lens' effective focal length is longer when used with a crop sensor camera, usually by a factor of 1.6 times (varies by camera model.) So a 16mm lens is effectively 26mm on a crop sensor, rounding up. 

Using  the same lens examples as above, a 16mm focal length lens on a crop sensor camera works out to just over 18 seconds maximum exposure, 300/16 = 18.75. I would recommend rounding up to 20 seconds or down to 15 for simplicity. Now, a 35mm lens would give us a maximum exposure time of just over 8 seconds. As you can see, a full frame camera gives us an advantage in lengthening our exposure times to gather more light. 

Note: rather than using the "300 Rule," you could opt to convert your lens focal length by multiplying it by the crop factor of your camera, then plugging this number into the 500 rule. In this case, 26mm. 

Same lens focal length examples as above, but adjusted for a Canon crop sensor, and their corresponding max shutter speeds:

14mm = 22 seconds (rounding down to 20 simplifies things)

16mm = 20 seconds (rounded up)

20mm = 15.6 seconds (round down to 15 for simplicity)

35mm = 8.9 seconds (recommend 8 seconds)

50mm = 6.25 seconds (recommend 6 seconds)

The math clearly indicates that a full frame camera and a wide angle lens are a great combination for photographing the night sky. I typically recommend lenses like the Rokinon 14 f/2.8 lens if you are just getting started. Photographing the night sky with a single lens will provide you with more than enough to experiment with and learn before you might consider adding more specialized lenses to your kit. 

Note about the 500 Rule - It’s not perfect

Depending on how much you enjoy math, you may or may not appreciate the information at the following link: http://starcircleacademy.com/2012/06/600-rule/

At that link you can find a much more intricate formula that will allow you to calculate the maximum shutter speed for your precise camera and lens, based on your exact location, etc so that stars do not travel across even one pixel during a single exposure. Did that just get way too nerdy?

It should be stated that the 500/300 rule isn't perfect. If your print is large enough and the viewer is standing close enough to the image, most eyes will see some streaking. Scoot back to a more comfortable viewing distance and you are likely to be satisfied with the results. 

To summarize: the 500/300 rule works great for most applications and I recommend experimenting with it for yourself. 

What about your other settings?

We spent this blog post talking about maximizing our shutter speed to gather as much light as possible. Next, we want to bump our ISO (camera sensitivity) settings high into the 3200-6400 range, so our camera’s sensor can collect as much light as possible. Finally, set your aperture wide open (hopefully in the f/2.8 or wider range depending on your lens) again, to let in as much light as possible. This is all given that we are far away from bright city lights and we are attempting to capture the splendor of the Milky Way and the surrounding landscape with a wide angle lens. 

Enjoy!

Want to learn more and get hands-on? Check out my astrophotography workshops and join the newsletter below to stay in the loop!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) 300 500 astrophotography how info luis milky obispo rule san star to trails way workshops https://bradycabe.com/blog/2017/2/the-500-and-300-rule-for-photographing-the-night-sky Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:17:37 GMT
Ashley and Dal Pear Valley Vineyard Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/8/ashley-and-dal-pear-valley-vineyard-wedding Ashley and Dal had an intimate ceremony on a hilltop at Pear Valley Vineyards, and I had the honor of documenting that day for them. Their reception was relaxed and casual, allowing for plenty of time for sharing conversation with family and friends, tasting wine, and enjoying the delicious food (courtesy of Trumpet Vine.) 

When we were emailing back and forth in the weeks leading up, I mentioned that we might have a window of opportunity to take a Milky Way photo before the moon rose - about half an hour tops. With the smoke from the nearby wildfires, I wasn't sure that we would be able to photograph the stars at all. Well, the planets aligned (pun intended) and the conditions worked out for the Milky Way photo to happen - and I'm so happy it did for them (scroll down to see.)

These are just some of my selections from their day.

IMG_0193IMG_0193 IMG_1109-EditIMG_1109-Edit IMG_0228IMG_0228 IMG_0226IMG_0226 IMG_0265IMG_0265 IMG_9641IMG_9641 IMG_9682IMG_9682 IMG_9700IMG_9700 IMG_9672IMG_9672 IMG_9695IMG_9695 IMG_9670IMG_9670 IMG_7500IMG_7500 IMG_9790IMG_9790 IMG_9802IMG_9802 IMG_7490IMG_7490 IMG_9897IMG_9897 IMG_9919IMG_9919 IMG_0240IMG_0240 IMG_0149IMG_0149 IMG_0174IMG_0174 IMG_0177IMG_0177 IMG_0497IMG_0497 IMG_9707IMG_9707 IMG_0109IMG_0109 IMG_0454IMG_0454 IMG_0413IMG_0413 IMG_9712IMG_9712 IMG_0672IMG_0672 IMG_0735IMG_0735 IMG_0963IMG_0963 IMG_0817IMG_0817 IMG_1065IMG_1065

Amazing vendors from Saturday's wedding:

Officiant: Olive Tree Officiating 

Venue: Pear Valley Vineyards
Coordinator: Amanda Leath Events
Rentals: All About Events Paso
Catering: Trumpet Vine Catering
Hair & Makeup: Courtney Rossi Artistry

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) country intimate milky paso pear robles valley vineyards way wedding wine https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/8/ashley-and-dal-pear-valley-vineyard-wedding Thu, 25 Aug 2016 05:45:00 GMT
Infinity Focus and Hyperfocal Distance : Maximize Depth of Field in Astrophotography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/8/using-hyperfocal-distance-to-maximize-depth-of-field-in-astrophotography Focusing on the Milky Way - Using Infinity Focus and Hyperfocal Distance to Maximize Depth of Field in Astrophotography

Standing StillStanding Still

About this Post

This blog post is all about getting in-focus images of the Milky Way and your foreground subject in a single exposure, without using blending or other compositing techniques. 

Find Infinity Focus

During my astrophotography workshops the first topic we cover is finding the infinity focus on the lens we will be using during the class. Many lenses are marked for infinity on the focus ring, but this should be tested to ensure accuracy. If your lens doesn’t have a marking for infinity, take the time to determine infinity focus before shooting. 

To do this, manually focus your lens on the most distance object, such as a bright star (if it’s dark) or distant mountain ridge. If your camera has a “live view” feature, try using that and zoom in on your distant subject to aide in focusing. With un-marked lenses, use gaffer's tape or similar to tape your focus ring into place for the evening. Switch to manual focus if you haven't already.

Throughout your night photography shoot, instead of adjusting the focus on the camera or using auto-focus as you would in daylight, you will physically move the camera forward or back in relation to your subject to achieve focus. Since the focus is set to infinity, we know the stars will be in focus regardless of where we position the camera - that’s the goal with this method.

Now What?

To recap, so far we have our lens focused at infinity and we know that any photograph we take of the sky is going to feature stars that are in focus. But what about our foreground subject? If you are too close to your subject, it is going to be out of focus and you might not be happy with the results. The solution is to back away from your subject until the subject is in focus, and then take your shot. A wider angle lens will allow you to be closer to your subject and have both the subject and stars in focus. The more telephoto the lens, the further back you will need to stand to get both the subject and stars in focus. 

Math and Numbers

If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend too much time guessing where to position your camera to get the shot. Luckily, you can figure out where to position your camera to get your subject and stars in focus using a hyperfocal table, like the one in the PhotoPills app for iOS. Hyperfocal distance refers to the distance between a camera/lens and the closest object that is in focus when the lens is focused at infinity, at the given aperture setting for each different lens. 

Using the PhotoPills app, you can plug in your camera and lens info, and the table will give you hyperfocal distances at various apertures for that setup. You will know exactly how far back you need to be from your subject. Keep in mind, the hyperfocal distance will change based on the set aperture and lens focal length - this is crucial for astrophotography. 

Discussing Hyperfocal in Practice

  • The lower the f-stop, that is, the wider open the aperture, the further the hyperfocal distance will be from the camera. For example, when using a 35mm lens at f/1.4 aperture, the hyperfocal distance is just over 94 feet. If I stop down that same lens to an f/2.8 aperture, my hyperfocal distance is much closer, at about 47 feet. But this lens can gather so much light at f/1.4 and that is a big reason why it is part of my kit. As a result, I commonly use this lens for larger, more distance subjects, so my camera can be far enough away (at least 94 feet) to get both the subject and the stars in focus while shooting wide open at f/1.4.
  • The wider angle the lens, the closer the hyperfocal distance will be. For example, a 20mm lens at the same f/1.4 aperture as our 35mm lens in the example above, has a much closer hyperfocal distance of 31 feet; that’s one third the distance! When my subject matter is closer to the camera, a wider angle lens will give me greater flexibility in my composition. Are you starting to see why the variety of lenses in your kit can be important for night sky work?
  • As a general rule of thumb, longer focal length lenses are best suited for larger, further subject matter, while wider angle lenses are best for closer, smaller subjects. This is how I approach most night scenes, in terms of lens selection. 

School's Out ForeverSchool's Out Forever

Notes/FAQ

  • What if you were to simply manually focus on the subject? The stars would likely be out of focus and appear soft. If this is not the effect you desire, then learning the concept of hyperfocal distance will come in handy. 
  • There will be situations that it is simply not possible or practical to use this method to capture the scene how you wish. You can opt to try your hand at focus-stacking, or you can simply focus on your closer-than-optimal subject and let the stars fall out of focus. I've done both and had fun doing so.
  • Consider stopping down your lens to a smaller aperture to increase depth of field, and then use a light source to help add light to your now darker scene. 
  • Approximating the hyperfocal distance using field techniques, such as focusing on the first third of your scene, may not be effective given our wide open apertures for night sky shooting. Proceed with caution.
  • Once you get used to each of the lenses in your night kit, you will become more comfortable with the limitations of each. It will eventually become second-nature for you to guess the distance from your camera to the subject without measuring. You'll begin to know what lens will work best for the given scene. 

As with anything, practice makes perfect, and the best advice I can give you is to go out and shoot! Enjoy the stars.

IMG_4605IMG_4605

 

Want to learn, hands-on, how to photograph the night sky? Join me on a future workshop. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) astrophotography depth distance field hyperfocal info instruction milky night of sky way workshops https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/8/using-hyperfocal-distance-to-maximize-depth-of-field-in-astrophotography Sun, 07 Aug 2016 16:38:54 GMT
Using Off Camera Flash for Astrophotography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/7/using-off-camera-flash-for-astrophotography Using Off Camera Flash for Astrophotography 

I’ve started using off camera flash more and more in my night sky images, so I thought I would share this technique with all of you. Some folks will simply not care for the results of this technique, and I completely understand that perspective - it's subjective. There are other ways to capture dynamic night sky images involving photoshop, light painting, and other techniques. My goal in photography is to try and capture each image in a single exposure, and this method allows me to do so. Below I’m going to tell you why I prefer this method and provide a quick how-to on setting up your flash for this purpose. If you sign up for a workshop, I usually have an extra flash or two in my bag for experimentation, and I can help show you how to use off camera flash in astrohptography. 

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Repeatable Results 

Compared to other methods, such as light painting with a flashlight, using a flash can yield more consistent results. This is not to say that light painting cannot be mastered and controlled to a precise degree, it’s just that a flash takes away some of the guesswork. Painting light with a flashlight can definitely be fun, and it's a great technique to have in your toolbox.

What I enjoy about using a flash is the ability to move quickly once I'm all setup for my astrophotography session. As soon as I have my camera’s exposure settings and the flash power output settings adjusted to my liking, I can easily move from composition to composition. Every time I press the button on the flash, the power output is the same, so I have a good idea of what my result will be. 

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Cleaner Image for Printing 

This is the chief reason I began regularly implementing off camera flash into my process. I've been printing a lot lately and the problem I'm running into time and time again is print quality issues with night sky images. When you're used to achieving a certain print quality with other images, such as sunset scenes, it makes anything of lesser quality stick out like a sore thumb. 

By lighting the foreground with an external light source, you are less reliant on high ISO settings to capture those details. I can photograph the same scene at ISO 3200 instead of ISO 6400 and have a cleaner file with less digital noise, while still capturing the necessary detail in the Milky Way. 

For extremely dark sky locations, such as Death Valley, this method will prove quite useful, as ISO 6400 paired with some lenses will provide nowhere near a proper exposure and the resulting file will suffer greatly with shadow noise when attempting to brighten the image in post-production. 

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Using Your Flash in Manual Mode

Even if you have never worked with off-camera lighting, that shouldn’t stop you from trying this for yourself. Follow the steps below to get started. 

  1. Set your camera’s exposure settings as desired to capture the night sky. I recommend starting at ISO 3200, aperture wide open, and shutter speed set using the 500 rule
  2. Turn on your flash unit (I'm currently using a Yongnuo model) and make sure it is set to manual and not TTL or other automatic modes. If your flash does not have a “test” button, make sure you have some other means for firing the flash, such as a remote trigger. 
  3. Start the exposure on your camera and fire your flash during the exposure. 
  4. I recommend holding the flash unit above your head and pointing the flash at a down angle on your foreground, while holding it slightly above and to the side of your camera. Holding your flash lower to the ground can help accentuate textures, such as grass, rock, etc, if desired.
  5. After the exposure is complete, check your shot and study the histogram to ensure your image is well exposed and not “blown out.” If your camera has a highlight alert feature, I strongly recommend using this function. This will cause all blown highlights to flash when playing back the image. 
  6. If you have blown highlights, adjust the flash power down and repeat steps 3-5. 
  7. If your image foreground still seems too dark, adjust the flash power to a higher setting and repeat steps 3-5. Repeat this process until your image is bright to taste, and you also have no blown out highlights on the foreground.
  8. Once you have set the flash power to the appropriate setting you can now move about capturing scenes in one attempt. 
  9. Please note that changing the distance of your flash to the foreground will affect its brightness, so try to remain consistent with your flash placement in relation to the foreground/subject.

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Bonus Tip: Because the shutter speed setting does not have any affect on flash power, you can perform the above procedure while using a shorter shutter speed. I usually set my shutter to 2 seconds, while leaving my ISO and aperture at their normal night sky settings. This way, I can calibrate the flash settings as desired, but take up much less time in doing so. Remember typical night sky shutter speeds will be upwards of 30 seconds, so this tip could save you some valuable time. 

What are you waiting for?

If you have a flash, any flash, head out during the next new moon and give this a try. Maybe you will like the results and maybe you won’t, but having this method in your toolbox might just save your bacon. Mmm, bacon…

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) astrophotography camera flash how info manual milky night off sky to tutorial way https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/7/using-off-camera-flash-for-astrophotography Sat, 23 Jul 2016 07:11:12 GMT
What's In The Bag? - An Update On My Lenses https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/7/whats-in-the-bag-an-update-on-my-lenses What's in my bag?

I recently went through an anti-GAS phase - not sure if that’s a thing. If you have never heard of “GAS” before, it's an acronym that stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. In short; you see cool photography stuff and then you buy cool photography stuff, whether or not it’s necessary to further your craft. Luckily, I learned early on from some helpful mentors, the woes of going down this path of potential financial ruin and lack of promised inspiration from said gear.

My trip last fall to Alaska was a catalyst for parsing down my gear bag, re-evaluating myself as a photographer, and a lesson learned in traveling with (less) gear. Having traveled little as a photographer, I brought way more equipment than I needed - way more - which was a valuable lesson all on its own. On the trip I rented a super telephoto lens and it ignited my passion for wildlife photography, and re-ignited my lifelong love of raptors, particularly Bald Eagles. Along the way I discovered that I didn’t really *need* some of the lenses I had brought, like, at all. So when I got back from my trip I sold off a few things, bought the wildlife lens, and haven’t looked back.

I also made the decision to sell off one of my full frame Canon 6D (refurbished) cameras and replace it with a crop sensor Canon 70D (refurbished) body, to extend the reach of my telephoto lens for wildlife, and have a better auto focus experience in those same situations. I still love my 6D for weddings, portraits, astrophotography, landscape… and pretty much everything else.

Below is the lens selection I ultimately landed on and I’m putting together this blog post because I don’t foresee any big changes happening anytime soon. I’ve included sample images taken with each lens for reference.

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8

When I need to shoot super wide photos of the night sky, this lens will do it and does the job well. Because it has no front filter threads, I can't use my landscape filters - so this lens is definitely my most niche, and used for night skies only. But it's reasonably sharp wide open and the hard stop infinity focus makes it a great tool for astrophotography. When shooting meteor showers, I will leave this lens on the second body all night, capturing as wide of a scene as possible to maximize captured meteors.

IMG_1362IMG_1362 IMG_2754-EditIMG_2754-Edit IMG_3106-EditIMG_3106-Edit

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II

This is arguably the most used lens in my kit and has been for the past several years. From weddings to night sky to sunsets, I don't leave home without this lens. If it was a fixed 16mm lens I'm not sure I would miss the zoom much, aside from being able to do some trick zoom shots. I'm usually able to scoot forward and get the framing I'm after without using the zoom, but that's not to say I haven't used it a few times. If I have to make the decision between this and the Rokinon 14mm, I choose this lens because of the front filter threads.

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Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art

If I'm taking playful photos of my kids, capturing wide angle wedding moments, snapping lifestyle work, or wanting to get a closer look at the Milky Way, I head straight for this lens. It's so sharp at f/1.4 that it puts most of my other glass to shame. Although this focal length is duplicated in my kit, the f/1.4 aperture is a necessity for being able to get specific shots of the night sky that I am simply not able to capture with the 16-35mm Canon.

IMG_3417IMG_3417 IMG_3367IMG_3367 IMG_4786IMG_4786 IMG_8310-EditIMG_8310-Edit IMG_8699-EditIMG_8699-Edit _MG_2705_MG_2705

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

This is a workhorse lens and is sharp, sharp, sharp, just like the 35mm Sigma above. I shoot most of my portraits with this lens, including wedding, senior, family - you name it. I'll routinely use the 50 for an entire (small) family shoot or senior session without switching lenses. The focal length lends itself well to medium crop portraits at a comfortable distance and just works great for what I want. As soon as Sigma launches an 85mm Art, I'll be first in line to get that closer portrait without getting all up in my subject’s business. In the meantime, I'll stick with this beauty to get the job done.

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Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS Version I

I bought this lens used on eBay in 2010 I believe. It's been through the ringer and has the battle scars to prove it. I won't shoot an event or wedding without this lens in my bag. On a full frame camera, the 70-200mm range is just about perfect for most situations when ‘meat and potatoes’ photographs are on the menu. I'll frequently pair this with the 16-35mm lens on a second body, especially when shooting news or similar events and that gives me everything I need and then some. Mine also has, what I think is, a unique flare to it if you catch the sun just right. I’ll probably be buried with this lens.

blurred star compblurred star comp IMG_0207IMG_0207 IMG_8994IMG_8994 Untitled_Panorama1-EditUntitled_Panorama1-Edit

Sigma 150-600 Version C

This lens is near permanently affixed to my Canon 70D camera - a perfect kit for daytime wildlife photography. I originally fell in love with this lens while renting it for my Alaska adventure last fall, when I used it for capturing Bald Eagles. As soon as I returned, I promptly sold off some bits and pieces of gear to make way for this beast. I almost exclusively handhold this lens and with the built-in stabilization, I'm able to achieve sharp images at insanely slow shutter speeds. Tip: check Sigma’s refurbished website and it will really drive the price down.

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Honorable mention: Opteka Auto Focus DG EX Macro Extension Tube

I used to have a dedicated macro lens and it sat in the bag much more often than not. So I sold that lens, took a small fraction of that amount and purchased a macro extension tube that offers autofocus. I have to say; it works much better than expected. I'm able to get my wedding day ring shots and the occasional nature close-up and I don't have to feel guilty about having "wasted space." It's great.

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Conclusion

I realize to some this still might seem like a lot of equipment, but each tool has a use. Although after writing this, the Rokinon 14mm lens might have to go. Do you have GAS? Have you de-GAS-ed? Share your GAS stories in the comments.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) astrophotography canon info landscape rokinon sigma wedding wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/7/whats-in-the-bag-an-update-on-my-lenses Fri, 15 Jul 2016 18:52:41 GMT
Getting Started With Wildlife Photography - Tips and Tricks https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/7/getting-started-with-wildlife-photography-tips-and-tricks Getting Started with Wildlife Photography

Over the past few years of photographing wildlife, I've picked up a lot of little tips and tricks that have helped improve my work along the way, and I'm sharing them with you here. Feel free to comment with your wildlife photography tip!

Regal EagleRegal Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My camera hasn’t left my hands in the past 6 years, and it’s been pointed at nearly everything (weddings, people, musicians, sunset, and so on) but only flirted with the occasional hawk or butterfly.

 

My love of nature has always been with me though. Since I was a small child I was obsessed with Bald Eagles and Orcas, always drawing or painting them. My mom would point out deer and hawks on along the road, and that always stuck with me. Fast-forward to now, and I’ve trained my 3 year old daughter to identify Turkey Vultures in flight - the cycle continues.

 

A trip to Alaska last fall to capture the Northern Lights resulted in the igniting of a passion inside me to photograph wildlife more seriously. I rented a large telephoto lens, the Sigma 150-600mm Version C, for the trip to photograph Bald Eagles and was instantly hooked. After returning from the trip, I sold off a few pieces of equipment and within a few weeks, had that lens delivered to my doorstep.

 

It’s been an amazing journey so far and I hope you find a nugget of info that can help you on your journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respect the Animals

 

This has to be point number one because it’s so important and it's often overlooked - with or without bad intentions. It’s crucial to respect the space of the animals you are photographing, particularly during breeding times, so as not to impact their ability to raise young. The rule of thumb is: if the animal’s behavior changes due to your presence, you may be stressing it and you should back away or leave the area, depending on the situation. Getting the shot is not worth compromising the animal’s well-being or its ability to successfully breed. Click here for lots of useful information on the topic.

 

Talk to Other Photographers

 

This has been huge for me. I know photographers have a tendency to keep to themselves and a lot of us are guarded with information, but in wildlife photography it is extremely helpful to network with other photographers you bump into, and share information about local wildlife happenings. You never know what they might be willing to share and you might, just maybe, make a new friend. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting local wildlife photographer, and now friend, Craig Corwin, and I am so glad I did. He pointed me in the direction of so many great wildlife spots (including a local falcon nesting site), which led to other findings and other fantastic people. It has only enhanced the experience for me. Also, your wildlife photography buddies are going to be much more patient with your “just missed it” stories than your family - trust me.

 

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Explore and Explore Again

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered truly amazing places or critters right under my nose. Next time you are out on a nature walk, go a different way than the last time. Take that narrow dirt path and see where it leads. Get out of your routine and you’ll be surprised at what you will find. Don’t be afraid to hop on Google Maps in Satellite view and start scrolling around. Look for bodies of water and potential public trails.

 

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Look Up

 

This seems pretty obvious, but I’ve been walking under a family of Great Horned Owls for the past 4 years or so, at a local trail, with no knowledge of their presence. Whoops! IMG_7384IMG_7384

 

Have A Plan

 

Along with being a photographer, I am a stay at home dad and 9 times out of 10 my kids are with me when I’m shooting. Young children aren’t always good at waiting, so I find myself crafting my photo outings around what will work best for them, and save the solo mission stuff for another time. We find ourselves on lots of kid-friendly hiking trails, nature preserves, lakes, coastal areas, and basically anywhere that might get us close-up with something swimming, flying, or crawling.

 

Lake Lopez DeerLake Lopez Deer

 

When I am alone I will go out during optimal lighting conditions and wait for things to happen, but I always have one or two backup plans or places I can go if things are not happening. Wildlife is wild, and you have no idea when things will be happening or if they will happen at all.

 

The more you know about the locations and wildlife in your area, the better luck you will have making good photos. Learn about mating rituals, breeding seasons, habits or anything else that you can use to make a better photo. Some days you can only hope for a great snapshot of an American Coot, but if you can anticipate and capture a Grebe's courtship ritual of walking on water, you'll come away with a stronger image.

 

Plan on waiting and waiting

 

One day you might walk right up onto the shot of your lifetime and then next day you might be waiting an hour or two for that darned owl to take flight. The longer you are willing to wait, the better your chances at capturing something unique.

 

Stick around after the action. Sometimes there will be an after-shock of more excitement. Early on I had the tendency to leave shortly after a burst of activity but you never know what's going to happen next.

 

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Trust Your Instincts

 

Know when to abandon your plan and just wing it. Your instincts may not always be right, but you should try to listen to that little voice inside your head telling you to wait just a little longer or try a different vantage point. What I mean is don't stick to your routine if your spidey-sense is tingling and telling you to do otherwise. IMG_6702IMG_6702

 

Consider the Lighting

 

The best light of the day is typically right after sunrise and just before sunset - the golden hour. As a rule of thumb, animals are typically more active during these times, so everyone wins - good light and good action. Last Light on Great-horned OwlLast Light on Great-horned Owl This one is tough for me because I’m dealing with nap times, school, meals, soccer/baseball practice, and bath and bed time - but I do my best.

 

You can shoot with the sun at your back and stretch those hours of light a little further. The quality of light will not be the same but you can continue to shoot and achieve useable results.

 

If it's a cloudy day, take advantage of the softer, more diffused light and spend the whole day making photos.

 

When I'm shooting during less than best lighting conditions, I'm accomplishing a few things at once. I'm learning about the animal and its habits through observation so I can come back with better light and use that knowledge to capture a better moment. I'm also getting more time behind the camera and practice should never be underestimated. Also, I have a chance to explore the area nearby for other potential shots. How else could you benefit from this time shooting?

 

If you're shooting into the sunset, consider capturing a silhouetted image of the animal. Silhouettes can make for striking compositions, and although considered cliche by some, are widely considered a timeless and simple technique by others. Give it a try!

 

 

 

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Watch for Catchlights

 

Speaking of light... Especially with smaller birds, I am constantly watching their eyes through my lens and waiting for their heads to turn just right so the sun is catching. This will breathe life into the animal and make the photo pop more. Some photographers opt to use a flash to create their own catchlight and that is certainly an option, although not a technique I personally use.

 

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Get Close(r)

 

There are many ways to get closer, and the result is almost always a better photograph - especially with wildlife. But there is a balance between getting physically too close and stressing an animal, and getting close enough to get a useable photograph. Make sure to review the link mentioned earlier for proper ethics in photographing wildlife.

 

Owl WinkOwl Wink

 

The best way to get closer is to use a telephoto lens to extend your camera's reach. There are many great options to consider and I recommend the aforementioned Sigma 150-600mm Version C. I routinely shoot with this lens wide open at f/6.3 aperture (at 600mm) and I couldn't be happier with the results. The images are tack sharp, color and contrast is very pleasant, and it's light enough to hand hold in many situations. IMG_2556IMG_2556

 

There's no precise answer as to what lens is long enough for wildlife photography because it's quite subjective. One day you might luck into a hawk on the lamppost of your street and a 70-200mm lens will do the trick. Other days you will be on the outside of private property shooting over hundreds of yards and 600mm might be a necessity - or inadequate still. Other days a small bird will be foraging on the ground near your feet and your 600mm lens brings this already close scene extremely close, allowing for immense detail to be captured. All in all, use the gear that you have to the best of your abilities and if purchasing a lens, find the longest focal length in your price range. There's no substitute for a long lens.

 

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Other ways to get close would be to use a blind, such as your car, to shroud your presence. When I'm walking along a path and see something ahead, I'll use a tree, bush, or rock to duck behind and use as an impromptu blind. If you're lucky the action might move toward you and you'll be ready.

 

Look Around

 

When you're inevitably waiting for action, survey what's around you. Often times I'll find other interesting things close by; such as animal prints, feathers, other smaller creatures - you get the idea. Recently while waiting for some Peregrine Falcons to fledge, I discovered so many wonderful things including Western Gull chicks, a Canada Goose nest, whales breaching in the distance, and a host of other treasures.

 

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Use Your Ears

 

Recently I was photographing an adult Bald Eagle who was perched in its regular spot. In the distance I heard what sounded like another eagle calling out. So I waited and not too long after two juvenile eagles flew into the scene. It's a moment I won't soon forget.

 

IMG_6202-4IMG_6202-4 The more you get out and shoot, the more you will start to recognize different sounds from various animals. The honk of geese might cause you to turn around quickly and capture them gliding onto the water behind you. In the thick of the eucalyptus grove a screeching hawk might be your only clue of their presence. You get the idea!

 

Don’t Be Mad About Missing the Shot

 

This happens so much I've considered starting an Instagram account just featuring epic moments that I completely missed focus, or missed all together. It's simply going to happen. Maybe you nailed the focus, exposure, and composition but the angle is not good or the action happened away from you? This is part of what keeps us going back for that next shot.

 

Practice on Common Birds

 

There are few things more exciting to a photographer than picking up a new camera or lens. Our first inclination is to go out and give it a whirl. Definitely do this! My suggestion would be to practice on gulls or crows - something common. There will be kinks to work out and lessons to be learned and it will hurt a lot less if you completely miss that gull shot, as opposed to, say, a Great Horned Owl in flight or a glance at a Least Bittern.

 

IMG_5519-2IMG_5519-2 Whether it's breaking in a new piece of gear or simply practicing for the sake of practice, use a common bird for your subject and the benefit will be twofold; a missed shot won't hurt so bad and a great shot will still be a great shot.

 

Keep On Shooting

 

This has to be said for the simple fact that you might completely strike out and it might happen more than once. And it could happen five times in a row - yup. But that sixth time you go out and that Bald Eagle banks perfectly, soaring into golden light - you're stoked again.

 

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Good Luck

 

A little bit of luck goes a long way out in the field. The more prepared and purposeful you are, the more luck will find you.

 

What are you shooting lately?

 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) and birding help how info nature photography tips to tricks wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/7/getting-started-with-wildlife-photography-tips-and-tricks Fri, 15 Jul 2016 18:32:03 GMT
My Process for Printing Landscape Photographs https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/5/my-process-for-printing-landscape-photographs window.picrSettings = { userId: "ze2y9wpq875lv", profileId: "0le2dezzjdkn3" };

IMG_8678IMG_8678 My Process : Preparing and Printing Images

There are countless ways to go about this entire printing process. Simply put, this is the method that I have personally developed while preparing for an upcoming gallery show, in which the main images will be large prints I created at home. This works for me, but it might not work for you. I encourage you to use this as a jumping off point, and tweak your process so that it meets your needs.

This is a follow-up post to my 6 Reasons You Should Be Printing Your Photos post. I'm printing exclusively with the Canon Pixma Pro 100 and couldn't be happier with the results. Remember, have fun and happy printing.

Select the image(s)

This seems fairly straightforward but it's something to stop and ponder. Image/shot selection is a big part of being a photographer, and in some cases sets apart a great photographer from a good one. Whether it's showcasing your best work for a portfolio, providing the proper variety of images for a client, or choosing a piece to print for a show, selection can make or break the project. Evaluate each photo objectively, looking at the technical. If there are technical issues that can't be fixed, consider not printing that piece. 

Check your histogram

This is a topic that we discuss in my workshops because it's often overlooked, especially when photographers are just getting started, but it's an important aspect of photography. Generally speaking, a properly exposed image is going to look better printed than one that has clipped shadows or highlights. Hopefully, you are working with a raw image and can push and pull those pixels to get your image ready for print. As with any rule, there are always exceptions. Especially with astrophotography your histogram is going to be peaking more on the left due to an overall darker scene including a night sky.  Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 11.46.58 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-02 at 11.46.58 PM

It's all in the details

Check for details, dusts spots, and sharpen if necessary. Zoom in on your photo, especially in the water and sky, and inspect for any elements that you do not want to be part of the final print. Maybe it's a fence post, telephone wire, or piece of trash left by a beach-goer - if you're printing large those things will stand out. For some types of photography, such as photojournalism, removing elements from an image is a huge no-no. For our purposes here, we want a clean, attractive image that will be free of distractions. When you're out shooting, try to get this all taken care of before pressing the shutter; it's just good practice. Use Lightroom's spot removal tool to inspect the image for dust spots. This is when you realize that shooting at narrow apertures can yield some spotty results (see photo above - yikes!) I routinely use a small handheld air blower to clean the front and rear lens element each time I switch lenses. This saves so much time in post production.

Proofing IMG_8419-3IMG_8419-3

Print a 4x6 proof. This may seem like an unnecessary step but it accomplishes two things for me. First, it gives me a sense of how my photo is going to look printed and how the digital image translates to the paper. Maybe the screen isn't calibrated? You'll find out if/when your print looks off. Second, if the print is good, I have a small copy to sell at my next gallery show or use as a giveaway promo. I currently have a box of these ready to go for my next event.

IMG_1005IMG_1005 Print it big

Finally, print it large. By following these steps I haven't yet ended up with a throw-away large format print.

As a side note, one thing I have been doing, before placing the paper into the printer, is using a Giottos Rocket Air Blaster (same one I recommend for removing dust from your camera lens), and blowing air across the paper to remove any random dust and debris. I'm not sure if the printer cleans the paper at some point in the printing process, but I have had issues with debris on the paper causing the ink to not print to the paper in isolated and very tiny spots.

So far, all of my big prints look great - no unwanted distractions, color correct, and ready to display.

 

 

 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) art detail fine how info inspiration landscape photography photos printing prints process to https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/5/my-process-for-printing-landscape-photographs Tue, 03 May 2016 07:42:40 GMT
Airick and Liz - Cambria Pines Lodge Wedding - Antique Aero Reception - Star Wars https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/5/airick-and-liz-cambria-pines-lodge-wedding-antique-aero-reception-star-wars IMG_9124-Edit-EditIMG_9124-Edit-Edit IMG_0140-Edit-saber-compIMG_0140-Edit-saber-comp

ring-collagering-collage

"I love you. I know."

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Airick and Liz created a special day that was totally "them," and shared it with their family and friends. From the Star Wars details to the airplane hanger reception, their wedding day was a ton of fun to photograph. I'm so happy for these two as they start this new chapter in their lives together. The force will be with them, always.

PS. There was a stormtrooper - no big whoop.

IMG_9165IMG_9165 IMG_9166IMG_9166 IMG_9191IMG_9191 airick-collageairick-collage IMG_9043IMG_9043 frst-look-collagefrst-look-collage IMG_9120-Edit-2IMG_9120-Edit-2 IMG_9153IMG_9153 IMG_9309IMG_9309 ceremony-collageceremony-collage IMG_9492-flower-layersIMG_9492-flower-layers IMG_9715IMG_9715 legion-collage-3legion-collage-3 IMG_9919IMG_9919 IMG_9772IMG_9772 IMG_9788IMG_9788 IMG_9854-EditIMG_9854-Edit IMG_9865IMG_9865 IMG_9881IMG_9881 IMG_9950IMG_9950 IMG_9887IMG_9887 IMG_9818IMG_9818 IMG_0036IMG_0036 IMG_0082IMG_0082 IMG_0159IMG_0159

Need a photographer for your 2016 and beyond wedding? Contact me today. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) airplanes cambria i know lodge love pines star wars wedding you https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/5/airick-and-liz-cambria-pines-lodge-wedding-antique-aero-reception-star-wars Tue, 03 May 2016 05:59:19 GMT
6 Reasons You Should Be Printing Your Photos https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/photographers-why-you-should-be-printing-your-images window.picrSettings = { userId: "ze2y9wpq875lv", profileId: "0le2dezzjdkn3" };

6 Reasons You Should Be Printing Your Photos

(As seen on PetaPixel)

As a photographer I spend a lot of time taking photos, editing, blogging, and posting to social media. To what end? Are the photos meant to be viewed for the 24 hour period that FaceBook displays them and then just gone forever? And then I scrounge up another photo to share and the cycle just continues. FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sharing my photographs online. But am I just feeding into the noise? Part of my move to start printing my photos comes from my desire to create and share something tangible and special in this age of digital noise and the culture of "now" and "more."

This post is written to other photographers who might be considering buying and using a photo printer. I'm printing exclusively with the Canon Pixma Pro 100 and couldn't be happier with the results. Below are some reasons why you should start printing.

1) It makes you a better editor

When you print a photo and hold it in your hands, you start to notice details that maybe you didn't on your computer or phone screen - particularly if your screen could use a cleaning like mine. Dust spots in your sky do not make for an attractive printed image. You start realizing the benefit of zooming in close and panning around your image to inspect for problem areas. You start paying closer attention to your histogram, and so on. Check out my blog post outlining my printing process for a more in-depth look at preparing your image for print.

2) It makes you a better photographer

When you print, especially big, all technical issues with your photographs will be amplified. Displaying our photographs on Instagram gives us a lot of leeway and sometimes we brush things off. Tiny screens don't allow for all the detail to be revealed. Sometimes the detail is beautiful and sometimes it's problematic - either way it's going to show in the print. IMG_8419-3IMG_8419-3 The next time you pick up your camera, you'll be thinking "let's get this right in-camera." Because let's face it, fixing your problems later in Photoshop is not always easy, sometimes is not possible, and it's just lazy photography (we've all done it!) Photoshop is an amazing tool and some artists use it as a means to create amazing masterpieces, but if you're using it as a crutch to polish turds; you're doing it wrong.

3) It inspires you

Printing a photo, after careful selection, releases endorphins. I'm sure of it. All science aside, it makes me smile. It makes me want to go out and create more images that I can print large and be proud of. Shoot, edit, print, repeat - that's a new cycle for me. 

4) It makes you revisit old photos

Particularly if you're just getting into printing and you have a huge catalog of images, it's a lot of fun to go back into the archives. When you stumble upon a gem from 5 years ago and finally print it out, its satisfying. You begin to rediscover locations you've since neglected, and it gets the wheels turning - see "it inspires you," above.

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5) It brings your photos to life - forever

Before I started printing, this is what I did with my photos: take the photos, edit photos, post to Facebook, Instagram, whatever, maybe blog it, and then poof - the images just went into oblivion - with the occasional online or art show print sale. That's a lot of hard work, patience, and going out time after time chasing the sun and finally getting that perfect sunset at the perfect spot, just to let it sit on a hard drive. Print that baby out. 

6) It’s ultimately satisfying

This point echoes what I've been saying throughout this post. Seeing all of your hard work and dedication printed on beautiful paper just feels good. It's almost becoming an addiction for me... What can I print next? It's just so much fun. These are tangible things you can give to relatives, sell to clients, or hang on your wall. We see pixels all. day. long. Mix it up and get your print on.

Can you think of more reasons to print? Please share below. 


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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) 100 art canon fine info inspiration photography pixma print printing prints pro https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/photographers-why-you-should-be-printing-your-images Sat, 30 Apr 2016 22:54:53 GMT
Eric and Maritza - Bakersfield Wedding St Phillip the Apostle & Petroleum Club https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/eric-and-maritza-bakersfield-wedding-st-phillip-petroleum-club IMG_8648IMG_8648 IMG_8105IMG_8105 IMG_8193IMG_8193

 

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Last weekend's weather for Bakersfield was as follows:

Friday - terrible wind storm, thick dusty skies

Saturday - blue skies and spring perfection

Sunday - thunder and lightning and hail, oh my!

Can you guess which day Eric and Maritza tied the knot? If you guessed Saturday, you would be correct - their love made the storm pause. 

(these are a few of my selections from their day)

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) bakersfield camera club flash off petroleum phillip st sunset wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/eric-and-maritza-bakersfield-wedding-st-phillip-petroleum-club Sat, 30 Apr 2016 04:58:15 GMT
The Canyon Villa - Intimate Italian Villa Wedding Venue - Olive Inspired Styled Shoot https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/the-canyon-villa-intimate-italian-villa-wedding-venue-olive-inspired-styled-shoot IMG_6593IMG_6593 Just a few miles off the main road in Paso Robles wine country, The Canyon Villa is a gorgeous Italian Villa, perfect for intimate wedding events and vow renewals. The Villa is a bed and breakfast, and with Chef William at the helm, the food alone is worth a visit. 

The owners, Katherine and William, were so warm and welcoming, inviting me up to scope out the Villa a few months back. I immediately fell in love with the venue and saw loads of potential for multiple ceremony sites and great photo ops including bounding meadows, hillsides with sweeping vineyard backdrops, and of course the pristine villa itself - both inside and out. There are many olive tree saplings dotting the premises, which was the main inspiration behind the floral design used throughout the shoot. 

I want to thank all of the vendors who generously provided their time and resources to help make this shoot a reality, particularly our fearless wedding coordinator, Alison from Monarch Wedding Planning, who organized the whole thing - and totally rocked it! I would be remiss if I didn't thank our wonderful models, Michael and Brianna, whose skill in front of the camera and display of real love was the final and perfect piece to this puzzle. 

Brides, want to plan your intimate Italian Villa wedding or vow renewal? Take a look at all of the vendors involved, and let us help bring your big day to life.

Coordinating/Planning: Monarch Wedding Planning

Venue: The Canyon Villa

Hair & Makeup: Bellizzimo Beauty

Dress/Accessories: Something Bridal

Cake: Daisy Delights

Calligraphy/Sign: Fete and Quill

Flowers: Flowers by Denise

Tables/Chairs: Taylor Rentals

Cheese Platter: Fromagerie Sophie

Invitations: Pigment and Parchment

Wine: Forever Cellars

Officiant: Rev Georgia R Collins (805) 238-6312

Favors/Olive Oil: Groves on 41

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) canyon country details intimate italian luis obispo olive paso robles san slo venue villa wedding wine https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/the-canyon-villa-intimate-italian-villa-wedding-venue-olive-inspired-styled-shoot Fri, 22 Apr 2016 22:45:03 GMT
Skyler's Senior Portrait - Avila Beach - Cal Poly Bound https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/skyler-senior-portrait-avila-beach-cal-poly-bound IMG_4832IMG_4832 IMG_5158IMG_5158 IMG_5017IMG_5017 IMG_4970IMG_4970

Skyler is Cal Poly bound! It was great to meet her and photograph this important stage in her life.

We started off taking photos near creek, and worked our way toward to Avila Pier. The best part of shooting in Avila this particular day was the protection from the wind, offered by the Point San Luis ridge. It's been a bit windy and chilly for us Californian's lately (welcome to Spring) and we've even had to wear jackets on some days! *sarcasm*

If you're reading this, I hope you had a Happy Easter! If you need senior photos, feel free to contact me and I'll get you taken care of just in time. 

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Need Photos? Say Hello:

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) avila beach cal golden hour luis obispo pictures poly portrait san senior silhouette sunset https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/4/skyler-senior-portrait-avila-beach-cal-poly-bound Sun, 03 Apr 2016 21:57:30 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 9 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/week-in-photos-week-9-2016 IMG_0791-EditIMG_0791-Edit

It's not everyday that a Peregrine Falcon allows you a front row seat to his dinner. My kids and I were heading down the road to the Monarch Butterfly Grove when all of the sudden I saw a large bird flying across with something in its talons. We took the next turn and this falcon had landed just a few blocks over, and was tearing into this pigeon. We parked across the street and spent the next 45 minutes watching him eat, while I took photos and my kids asked a bunch of questions. It was awesome. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) baywood big ca featured ksby landscape legoland lifestyle los luis nature obispo osos park photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/week-in-photos-week-9-2016 Tue, 22 Mar 2016 23:38:50 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 8 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/week-in-photos-week-8-2016
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This week, my family and I drove on the sand in Pismo, made sand-castles, and took a family silhouette photo. All in all, a great week, although a little slow on the photo side of things. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon the Los Osos Valley Rd bald eagles, but by the time I pulled over to take a photo, one of them had taken flight. 

Thanks for taking a look!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) baywood big ca featured ksby landscape legoland lifestyle los luis nature obispo osos park photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/week-in-photos-week-8-2016 Wed, 16 Mar 2016 06:30:16 GMT
Lauren's Senior Portrait Pismo Beach, CA https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/laurens-senior-portrait-pismo-beach-ca IMG_1125IMG_1125 IMG_1298IMG_1298 IMG_1193IMG_1193 IMG_1352IMG_1352

It was so great to catch up with Lauren and her mom, Sonja, whom I haven't seen since her and Chuck's wedding nearly two years ago! Time flies when you're having fun. I was totally honored that they contacted me to shoot Lauren's senior pictures, and we had a blast exploring all the meadows and trees near the butterfly grove. 

Here's a few of my favorite images from the session. Enjoy!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) beach camera flash golden hour off photos pictures portraits senior sunset trees https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/laurens-senior-portrait-pismo-beach-ca Fri, 11 Mar 2016 06:36:30 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 7 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/week-in-photos-week-7-2016 IMG_9172IMG_9172

Special thanks to The Paddleboard Company out of Morro Bay for paddling and yoga-ing - be sure to check out their website and schedule a paddle.

This week was super heavy on the photos on Monday with my big shoot up in Los Osos, and then tapered off... and then we went to Legoland! 

I am sharing only a few images from the Los Osos shoot in anticipation of the final product - a printed visitor guide! I will be sharing a completely separate post when that is all done and printed. Stay tuned!

Thank you for taking a look.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) baywood big ca featured ksby landscape legoland lifestyle los luis nature obispo osos park photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/3/week-in-photos-week-7-2016 Thu, 03 Mar 2016 05:39:50 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 6 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-6-2016
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Week 6 was 2 weeks ago - I don't remember any of this! That's why these weekly photo blog posts are a lot of fun for me. It definitely doesn't seem like 2 weeks since Megan and Chris' wedding portrait.

A few of these photos are from a scouting session with Paul Irving from Big Big SLO. We are working on a great new project - putting together a visitor guide for Los Osos / Baywood Park. I'm working with him to capture photos of specific areas of interest for use in the booklet. I can't wait to share from that session next week and the final result in the next few months!

In the meantime, thank you for checking out my weekly photo blog and feel free to share!

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That's my daughter. We go on adventures. 

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Check out more of Megan and Chris' wedding day portrait here.

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Contact me about Milky Way portraits. Worth it.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) big ca featured ksby landscape lifestyle los luis nature obispo osos photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-6-2016 Tue, 23 Feb 2016 08:58:20 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 5 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-5-2016 IMG_3911IMG_3911

I can't tell you how much fun I am having with these weekly photo blog posts. A huge fringe benefit of this project, is that it's forcing me to flush out more of my personal work than I have ever previously shared. A lot of times I will share one photo, or maybe none, from things I shoot while out and about with my kids, or just exploring. These posts have proven to be a great outlet for sharing this work, and I hope you are enjoying these posts as they come.  

This week amounted to even more birding, and some exploring. My kids and I found a "new to me" spot between Morro Bay and Los Osos that has quickly become my new favorite location to walk. The boardwalk near the marina in Morro Bay offers different sights each visit, with a variety of birds, wildlife, boats, and of course a front row seat to an amazing central coast sunset. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) big ca featured ksby landscape lifestyle los luis nature obispo osos photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-5-2016 Thu, 18 Feb 2016 01:44:05 GMT
Megan and Chris - Pismo Beach Wedding Portrait https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/megan-and-chris-pismo-beach-wedding-portrait IMG_5061IMG_5061

As soon as Megan and Chris contacted me with their concept of photos at Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo, I was really hoping it would fall into place (and not just because I enjoy sweets!) I'm so glad it did because they were a lot of fun to work with. Instead of a wedding cake after their intimate San Luis Obispo ceremony, they opted for their favorite cinnamon rolls to celebrate. Afterwards we strolled down Pismo Beach in the ethereal marine layer clouds that decided to show up. 

These are just a handful of my selections from their super fun session. Thanks for taking a look!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) beach candid cinnamon lifestyle newlywed pismo portrait rolls wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/megan-and-chris-pismo-beach-wedding-portrait Tue, 16 Feb 2016 07:01:53 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 4 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-4-2016  

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If this week had a sub-title, it would be "Birds and Surf." Birds are everywhere, and on the central coast, we have quite the variety - both inland and on the coast. I've been getting more and more in the habit of keeping my telephoto lens attached to my camera and in the passenger seat, because you never know when an uncommon or elusive bird, such as a Northern Harrier (in flight a few photos down) will appear near your moving vehicle. I'm finding I need one of those "this vehicle stops for..." bumper stickers. 

The Turri Rd Bald Eagles are still out and about, and I have been seeing them once or twice a week either perched on the Cypress trees or in flight along Los Osos Valley Rd, at various times of day. I hope you are able to get out and see these magnificent creatures for yourself while they are here for the winter. 

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That is my family. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) big ca featured ksby landscape lifestyle luis nature obispo photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-4-2016 Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:57:20 GMT
Nikkis Last Minute Maternity and Family Session - Pismo Beach CA https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/nikkis-last-minute-maternity-and-family-session-pismo-beach-ca IMG_4518IMG_4518 IMG_4461IMG_4461 IMG_4557IMG_4557 IMG_4276IMG_4276 We took these photos and in a few short days, baby Grayson was born. I am so glad we were able to get together just in time and snap these photos, just before their family grew a little bit more. Congratulations Josh and Nikki!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) family lifestyle maternity photography pismo portrait silhouette sunset https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/nikkis-last-minute-maternity-and-family-session-pismo-beach-ca Wed, 10 Feb 2016 06:09:22 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 3 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-3-2016 IMG_1605IMG_1605

My daughter is now my official photo sidekick, and she likes to "go in the van," with me, which means we drive around looking for birds and eventually end up somewhere awesome to stop and go on a photo walk. She gets pretty distracted with all sorts of things; ladybugs, spiderwebs - you know, the important stuff. It's fun. 

This week was a little on the slow side photo-wise, but how can I possibly complain when my daughter and I got to see an eagle? Lots of birds and even a turtle greeted us at the Sweet Springs Preserve in Los Osos, which is quickly becoming our go-to spot in the late morning. IMG_1606IMG_1606 IMG_1609IMG_1609 IMG_1618IMG_1618 IMG_1689IMG_1689 IMG_1742IMG_1742 IMG_1782IMG_1782 IMG_1787IMG_1787 IMG_1815IMG_1815 IMG_1861IMG_1861 IMG_1878IMG_1878 IMG_1976IMG_1976 IMG_2002IMG_2002 IMG_2046IMG_2046 IMG_2078IMG_2078 IMG_2124IMG_2124 IMG_2195IMG_2195

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) big ca featured ksby landscape lifestyle luis nature obispo photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-3-2016 Sat, 06 Feb 2016 08:39:00 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 2 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-2-2016 IMG_9370IMG_9370

Week 2 of 2016 was action-packed. Not only did I stumbled upon a pair of bald eagles, thanks to some friends on Facebook and Twitter, but the local news station, KSBY, was kind enough to interview me for a short feature. It was a fun to be on the news, and folks sure seem to respond to photos of these truly magnificent birds. I am continuing to stalk the eagles as they hunt and live locally for the winter; it's a blast. My kids are with me most of the time when I am shooting, and they enjoy watching the eagles as well, although they don't like to stick around quite as long as I do. Snack, drinks, and a stop at the beach or park on the way home is usually enough to make all their waiting worth it. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) big ca featured ksby landscape lifestyle luis nature obispo photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/2/week-in-photos-week-2-2016 Tue, 02 Feb 2016 07:56:20 GMT
Week In Photos - Week 1 - 2016 - Life and Adventures around the Central Coast of California https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/week-in-photos-week-1-2016 IMG_8202IMG_8202

Right off the bat, 2016 has been a very different year for me than 2015. With my wife beginning to work and me becoming a stay at home dad, my circumstances have changed yet again, and I find my photography evolving to fit this new mold. The patience, trek, and time slot dedicated to my long exposure seascapes is something that is nearly incompatible with toting along a 2 and 6 year old to the beach. It is much simpler for me to bring my long lens and shoot surfers, birds, and my kids as the sun sets. I'm learning patience in ways I never dreamed, but this is always been a weakness for me, so I'm finding that to be a silver lining.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) big ca landscape lifestyle luis nature obispo photography pismo portrait san sur weekly wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/week-in-photos-week-1-2016 Thu, 28 Jan 2016 00:07:08 GMT
Carries Kids Pismo Beach Kid Lifestyle Portrait https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/carries-kids-pismo-beach-kid-lifestyle-portrait IMG_1013IMG_1013 IMG_1174IMG_1174 IMG_0807IMG_0807 IMG_1133IMG_1133

It is so awesome getting to see kids grow up from one session to the next! It was great to see Carrie and the kids and catch up. Here's a few of my favorite images from their Pismo Beach portrait. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) childrens lifestyle photography portrait sunset https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/carries-kids-pismo-beach-kid-lifestyle-portrait Tue, 26 Jan 2016 07:43:27 GMT
Wildlife on the Central Coast Eagles and Deer https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/wildlife-on-the-central-coast-eagles-and-deer IMG_0129IMG_0129

I recently took a trip to Alaska to photograph the Northern Lights and bald eagles, and I guess a few eagles followed me back down. The journey to Alaska reawakened my love for photographing wildlife, so I sold off a few pieces of camera equipment, purchased a long lens, and haven't put it down since. Most of the time I have my kids along with me, and they really seem to enjoy seeing the wildlife; eagles and deer especially. Our area is so rich in natural beauty, I find myself in near constant awe at what we stumble upon daily. 

Want to come along for the ride? Visit the workshop page to register for current workshops and photo tours, or join the newsletter to stay in the loop!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) bald birding birds central coast county deer eagles hawks luis obispo san wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/wildlife-on-the-central-coast-eagles-and-deer Sat, 23 Jan 2016 00:34:56 GMT
2015 Alaska Adventure Eagles and Aurora https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-alaska-adventure-eagles-and-aurora IMG_2321IMG_2321

Alaska was beautiful and rugged. 

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My photo buddy Paul Bolger was able to come along and we hit the ground running as soon as we arrived. Capturing the Northern Lights was priority number one in Alaska, so we were constantly checking live radar maps and weather reports, chasing the clear skies. 

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We ended up about a 2 hour drive north of Anchorage on the side of the road when it was finally clear enough to see the lights.

I've never witnessed anything quite like it before. The intensity of the lights changed continuously throughout the show.

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Night 1 almost didn't happen. The initial plan wasn't to hit the ground running, but as the trip approached and the forecast looked more and more dismal for clear skies, we made the decision to jet north right away to catch our window. A few hours north of Anchorage, we started to see a brightness on the horizon.

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Being so close to a bald eagle in the wild is something I have wanted to do since I was a young boy. At least one road-side eagle practically modeled for me from its perch, turning his head in all different directions and even shaking out its feathers at one point. 

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It's amazing what you will find in Alaska just off the side of the road. 

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After driving then sleeping, and driving then sleeping through the wee hours of the night, we woke up just before dawn. The morning fog was thick but interesting, so we made our way up a winding road in search of a good view of the foggy valley. The low clouds moved quickly and by the time we made it to a lookout point, they had all but vanished. 

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On Day 1 we drove along the Turnigan Arm, a road we would frequent for much of the trip. We stopped at any place that seemed interesting and spent a little while at this waterfall near the road. 

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One of the biggest challenges for the night photography was finding interesting places to take photos in locations we have never visited in the day time. When all else fails, insert human silhouette, or tree. 

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The second half of the trip was fairly wet, with a near constant drizzle at most stops. This added to the challenge of any photo, particularly longer exposures. A lot of time was spent wiping off lenses, re-shooting, cupping my hand over the end of the lens to prevent raindrops mid-exposure. You know, the usual. 

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I've come to the conclusion that Day 1 and 3 were the most action-packed in terms of photo opportunities. We started Day 3 with my cousin Chrisie and her family leading the way, and we didn't get far before stopping for some Dall's Sheep. The two days prior, Paul and I had likely driven back and forth by these sheep and never even thought to look up. They hang out on the nearly vertical face, just off the side of the highway. 

The rain was coming down pretty steady, but the camera gear held true. 

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The area around Virgin Creek falls in Girdwood, Alaska was so damp and green. While we were shooting it was drizzling rain, as it was most of the day, and a lot of the remainder of the trip. On the advice of a passing hiker, we decided to hike above the main waterfall, even though we were wet, cold, and ready for pizza, and we found this little gem.  

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Everywhere you turn in Alaska, there are snow-capped peaks, tree-lined highways, or lakes and streams, making for beautiful backdrops.. There's really no wrong way to point your camera most of the time. 

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Day 4 consisted of a lot of driving, trekking around, and searching for bear and moose. A group of bald eagles hanging around this creek made for a nice consolation prize to our failed hunt for other wild things.  

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It seemed that when there was one, many more would be nearby. While I was photographing one perched eagle, another adult flew in from my right, and then several more immature and adult eagles came and went from the same scene, occasionally calling to one another.  

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A lot of the process of photography is looking back on shoots and thinking, "I should have got this or that shot." And then you go back out there and hunt for that moment again to get that shot. Rinse and repeat. It's a never-ending process; it keeps us going back for more. Conditions change, seasons changes, tides shift, light moves, it's always different and exciting.

In other words; I want to go back to Alaska.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) Alaska anchorage arm aurora bald eagles girdwood lifestyle lights northern photography travel turnigan https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-alaska-adventure-eagles-and-aurora Wed, 13 Jan 2016 07:37:43 GMT
The Kids with the Deer at Lake Lopez https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/the-kids-with-the-deer-at-lake-lopez IMG_5983IMG_5983

My kids and I have been keeping pretty close watch on these deer at Lake Lopez, and they have been watching us as well. My daughter is fearless, and in the photo above she was making her way through the tall grass toward the deer. She looked up at a passing bird and I snapped the photo, just as the last bit of sunlight was touching her hair. 

I would love to snap some engagement or family photos near the deer. I think it could make for an interesting and unique backdrop. Drop me a line and let's set it up!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) deer golden hour lake lifestyle lopez luis obispo photography portrait san slo sunset wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/the-kids-with-the-deer-at-lake-lopez Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:40:51 GMT
2015 Year In Review - Lifestyle and Portrait Photography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review-lifestyle-and-portrait-photography IMG_7317IMG_7317 IMG_8766IMG_8766 IMG_0207IMG_0207 IMG_8014-EditIMG_8014-Edit

This year flew by so fast for me! Going back through my photos and putting these year-end posts together is refreshing because in the blur of life, I forget about some of these images. I really enjoyed working with the individuals, couples, and families I had the honor of photographing this year. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) backlit camera children couples engagement family flare flash golden hour lifestyle off photography portrait silhouette sunset yoga https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review-lifestyle-and-portrait-photography Thu, 07 Jan 2016 07:56:30 GMT
2015 Year In Review - Landscape and Nature Photography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review-nature-and-landscape-photography IMG_9180IMG_9180 IMG_9195IMG_9195 IMG_2366IMG_2366 IMG_2473IMG_2473

Every year I put together these blog posts, the same thought goes through my head; this year was interesting and full of transition. I concentrated on seascapes quite a bit this year, and spent a lot of time chasing the sunset. I got skunked a few times, but just as many times was pleasantly surprised by the late arrival of pink hues in the evening sky.  I was also able to travel a few times, making my way up to Big Sur, Kauai, and Alaska, which was really a feat all on its own. 

Are you interested in learning more about capturing the sunset or the night sky? Take a look at my workshop page and I'll see you in 2016!

Click here to order prints. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) bay beach cambria cayucos exposure grover long luis morro nature obispo oceano photography pismo san seascape simeon sunset wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review-nature-and-landscape-photography Tue, 05 Jan 2016 00:02:15 GMT
2015 Year In Review - My Kids - Lifestyle Photography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review-my-kids IMG_0114IMG_0114 IMG_0104-EditIMG_0104-Edit IMG_0172IMG_0172 IMG_0338IMG_0338

I made a vow to take more photos of my kids this year. That definitely happened.   IMG_9267IMG_9267 IMG_0716IMG_0716 IMG_2742IMG_2742 IMG_6064IMG_6064 IMG_7785IMG_7785 IMG_0109IMG_0109 IMG_1291IMG_1291 IMG_1393IMG_1393 IMG_1455IMG_1455 IMG_1543IMG_1543 IMG_1589IMG_1589 IMG_4184IMG_4184 IMG_4196IMG_4196 IMG_2375IMG_2375 IMG_3367IMG_3367 IMG_3417IMG_3417 IMG_4957IMG_4957 IMG_5261IMG_5261 IMG_5428IMG_5428 IMG_6867IMG_6867 IMG_6919IMG_6919 IMG_7074IMG_7074 IMG_1144IMG_1144 IMG_1328IMG_1328 IMG_9734IMG_9734 IMG_9755IMG_9755 IMG_1569IMG_1569 IMG_1584IMG_1584 IMG_2064IMG_2064 IMG_3212IMG_3212 IMG_3390IMG_3390 IMG_3445-EditIMG_3445-Edit IMG_3621IMG_3621 IMG_3703IMG_3703 IMG_3737IMG_3737 IMG_4207IMG_4207 IMG_4277IMG_4277 IMG_4458IMG_4458 IMG_5920IMG_5920 IMG_2158IMG_2158 IMG_9819IMG_9819 IMG_9894IMG_9894 IMG_5983IMG_5983 IMG_6010IMG_6010 IMG_0150IMG_0150 IMG_0224IMG_0224 IMG_0371IMG_0371 IMG_7378IMG_7378 IMG_7736IMG_7736 IMG_7843IMG_7843 That is my wife. She is awesome. 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) arroyo children county grande kids lake lifestyle lopez luis obispo pismo portrait san siblings https://bradycabe.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review-my-kids Fri, 01 Jan 2016 08:45:23 GMT
Ken Bausano Musician Portrait https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/12/ken-bausano-musician-portrait  

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Music has always been a passion of mine; whether writing, playing, or in this case photographing, it's an area where I feel right at home. When Deidra Bausano contacted me about a photo session for her husband Ken to refresh his website, I was beyond excited to book a shoot with a musician. Ken is a multi-talented artist who is capable of playing a vast array of instruments, with his forte being horns. My personal favorite was the blue horn pictured a few photos up, that featured incredible detail etched into the instrument body. 

Ken and Deidra, pictured below, own and operate Valley Entertainment, the Central Valley's premier source for live entertainment. Be sure to visit their website when you plan your next event!

Are you an artist or musician looking to spruce up your image? Music photography and working with artists is something I am deeply passionate about. Let's make it happen!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) artist camera flash music off photography portrait slo sunset trumpet https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/12/ken-bausano-musician-portrait Wed, 30 Dec 2015 10:03:34 GMT
2015 Year In Review - Wedding Photography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/12/2015-wedding-round-up
WeddingWire Brady Cabe - Photographer Reviews, Best Wedding Photographers in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo - 2015 Couples' Choice Award Winner
 

IMG_9339IMG_9339 2015 was awesome. 2016 is going to be even more awesome, since I will be photographing your wedding.

See what I did there?

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) art barbara bay fine morro photojournalism pismo santa wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/12/2015-wedding-round-up Wed, 16 Dec 2015 08:32:36 GMT
Banks Fall Family Portrait Nipomo CA SLO https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/11/banks-fall-family-portrait-nipomo-ca-slo IMG_1509IMG_1509

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It was so awesome catching up with my childhood friend and taking photos of his miniature self running around and being awesome. This little guy was so much fun to photograph; lots of adventure and smiles.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) fall family luis nipomo obispo portraits san slo https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/11/banks-fall-family-portrait-nipomo-ca-slo Wed, 25 Nov 2015 19:37:59 GMT
Eleno & Toni Santa Barbara Courthouse Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/11/eleno-toni-santa-barbara-courthouse-wedding  

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Toni and Eleno's wedding at the Santa Barbara Courthouse was absolutely gorgeous. The historic location, the light filtering in through the windows, and the beautiful and lush grounds of the courthouse made for great photos. I am so happy for the two of them as they begin this new chapter on their journey together!

 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) barbara california central coast courthouse mission santa style wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/11/eleno-toni-santa-barbara-courthouse-wedding Tue, 24 Nov 2015 20:32:01 GMT
Hanging Out With My Kids https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/11/hanging-out-with-my-kids IMG_3390IMG_3390

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So a magical thing happened recently; I switched from full time to part time at my desk job, working as a customer service rep at Really Right Stuff. With my wife working and child care costs simply not worth the expense, I am now a part-time stay-at-home dad. So far though, I have tried to stay out of the house as much as possible.

This has already resulted in more time with my kids in general, and more camera time; documenting their little selves. Even if things completely changed back tomorrow, I would still feel blessed to have this last week of part-time status. With the time change, this is even more awesome for me, as a landscape shooter and always chasing the sunset. This means I can potentially photograph each sunset, nap times and sick kids permitting.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) children lifestyle luis obispo pismo san slo sunset wildlife https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/11/hanging-out-with-my-kids Wed, 04 Nov 2015 21:00:08 GMT
Stephen and Alicia San Luis Obispo Elopement SLO Pop Up Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/10/stephen-and-alicia-san-luis-obispo-elopement-slo-pop-up-wedding IMG_9826IMG_9826 IMG_9868IMG_9868 IMG_1766IMG_1766 IMG_9850IMG_9850 IMG_9805IMG_9805

Stephen and Alicia's elopement among the trees was gorgeous, with the brilliant glow of the setting sun peaking in through the branches during the ceremony. Their vows were candid, refreshing, and honest. I had a ton of fun working with SLO Pop-Up weddings and Olive Tree Officiating!

Here are some of my selections from their special day.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) ca elopement festin golden hour le luis obispo pop portrait san slo sunset up wedding weddings https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/10/stephen-and-alicia-san-luis-obispo-elopement-slo-pop-up-wedding Fri, 23 Oct 2015 18:28:55 GMT
Michael and His Motorcycle San Luis Obispo Portrait https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/10/michael-and-his-motorcycle-san-luis-obispo-portrait IMG_0220-Edit-EditIMG_0220-Edit-Edit IMG_0115IMG_0115 IMG_0116IMG_0116 IMG_0102IMG_0102

Another Photography Club is a local photo club in San Luis Obispo county, that I started with my friend Patrick, that meets up once a month to get together and take photos. This month I asked one of my co-workers to model for the group with his motorcycle and he was kind enough to volunteer his time. We got to experiment with various photography techniques, practiced some panning, and overall had a great time and a great sunset to close the evening.

For the shots later into the evening, I opted for a two light setup; one main light with an Fstoppers Flash Disc for Michael, and a second bare-bulb flash, zoomed in to concentrate the spread of light, to add light to the motorcycle.

These are just a few of my selections from the shoot.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) camera commercial editorial flash lifestyle luis motorcycle obispo off portrait san slo sunset https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/10/michael-and-his-motorcycle-san-luis-obispo-portrait Wed, 07 Oct 2015 23:04:12 GMT
Jake and Tabatha - Los Osos and Montana de Oro Save the Date https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/jake-and-tabatha---los-osos-and-montana-de-oro-save-the-date IMG_8708IMG_8708 IMG_8767IMG_8767 IMG_8766IMG_8766 IMG_8918IMG_8918

This save the date session was so much fun! We started off freestylin', chasing the edge of the marine layer in the hills of San Luis Obispo to find some golden hour light on an otherwise gloomy Central Coast day. We found a roadside spot that worked out just right, and then zoomed to the beach just in time to capture the above photo, before the sun dipped behind the clouds and disappeared for the rest of the shoot.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) date de engagement golden hour los luis montana obispo oro osos portrait san save session silhouette sunset the wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/jake-and-tabatha---los-osos-and-montana-de-oro-save-the-date Tue, 01 Sep 2015 05:22:59 GMT
Lenses For Astrophotography https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/lens-for-astrophotography window.picrSettings = { userId: "ze2y9wpq875lv", profileId: "0le2dezzjdkn3" };

My Lenses for Astrophotography

(Updated: 2017)

Depending on the scene you wish to capture, there are a few different lenses that can be used for photographing the night sky. If you are looking to get started shooting wide-field astrophotography, similar to the image below, choose a wide angle lens (between 8mm and 24mm) with an aperture of at least f/2.8. Below I go through my list of lenses that I use specifically for astrophotography and provide some sample images, to give you an idea of what to expect. 

Lights Out, Pismo PierLights Out, Pismo Pier

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8

The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is a lens I commonly recommend to workshop participants who are looking for something reasonably priced that will allow them to capture the night sky. There are few lenses of this caliber that are in this price range.

So what's the catch? The lens is manual focus only (but that's just fine for night scenes!) and has a manual aperture ring on the lens (again: no biggie.) This means the focus and aperture settings are controlled on the exterior of the lens. Another potential drawback is that there are no front filter threads, meaning without a specialized adapter there is not a way to use filters in front of the lens for general landscape; such as polarizing filters, graduated neutral density filters and the like. I personally only use it for astrophotography because I typically use filters with my day time work. 

The bottom line is that this lens is quite sharp, reasonably priced, and sports a f/2.8 aperture that is necessary for astro work. 

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Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II

The Canon 16-35mm lens is hands-down my most used lens in my kit. I use it with everything from astrophotography, general landscape, weddings, portraits, to - you name it. This lens is sharp and fast, and the versatile zoom range is perfect for photographing the night sky.

But it is not without it's drawbacks for astrophotography. The lens exhibits coma which is a defect that causes distortion particularly noticeable in the stars in the corners of the frame. Also, with some darker scenes there can be unwanted vignetting. When zoomed in to 35mm, the f/2.8 aperture is not enough to compensate for the faster shutter speed (15 seconds) required by the longer focal length to prevent unwanted star trails. And that is where the 35mm Sigma shines with its f/1.4 aperture (read below for more info.) 

The bottom line here is that this lens is a more versatile option than the Rokinon 14mm for photographers who need auto focus, ability to use filters, and desire a lens that can handle many different types of shooting situations that require a wide angle lens. 

Oceano Dunes Star TrailOceano Dunes Star Trail Milky Over MDOMilky Over MDO

Path BeyondPath Beyond


 

Sigma 20mm Art f/1.4

I picked up the Sigma 20mm Art recently and couldn't wait to give it a whirl, setting my alarm for 4 AM to catch the first glimpses of the Milky Way of the year. The chief reason for making this purchase was that I desired a wider field of view when an aperture of f/1.4 was required for the scene. In dark places, such as Death Valley, or even around the Central Coast off the beaten path, you simply need to gather more light than a f/2.8 aperture will allow without bumping your ISO dangerously high. Also, light painting or use of flash is not always permitted or practical. My 14 f/2.8 or 16-35 simply wasn't cutting it for those situations, and this lens solves that problem. However, with Sigma announcing the 14mm f/1.8 lens, I may be eliminating the 20mm Art from my kit - but we shall see!

The one hang up I have with this lens is something that every astrophotographer can sympathize with - coma, or comatic aberration. Essentially, the stars in the corners of the frame suffer from distortion that causes them to look like little flying saucers. I personally do not think this is the end of the world, but do hope the upcoming Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art will tackle this problem. When making large prints, you'll be able to see these types of imperfections more so than with web use - so it is worth noting.

I haven't shot enough with it to develop any sort of a "feeling" about it, other than it gets the job done. I'll update this post as I use this lens in more shooting situations. Here's what I've capture so far with it:

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Path to Soda LakePath to Soda Lake

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Sigma 35mm Art f/1.4

The Sigma 35mm Art is a gorgeous hunk of very, very sharp glass that should have Canon shaking in its boots. I'm saving my pennies and would love to replace my Canon 50 with the Sigma Art, and long for the day they release an 85mm Art. Yes, it's that good. During weddings, it's never detached from my second camera body. 

That being said, it is somewhat of a restrictive lens for wide-field astrophotography when it comes to composition. It's a great lens for Milky Way panoramas, but for wider, single frame compositions, it is rather tight. And at 35mm and an aperture of f/1.4, you have a much shallower depth of field than with a 14mm at f/2.8, requiring foreground elements to be placed far enough away that both the subject and stars are in acceptable focus. Stopping down to a narrower aperture is mostly counter-intuitive for astrophotography, as the goal is to let in as much light as possible. That is the challenge with this lens. However, this technical challenge requires a more purposeful and planned composition, which can potentially have more stunning results than a wider scene.

Besides the Milky Way filling the frame more fully, this focal length also increases the apparent size of meteors, making for a more striking scene. 

Standing In AweStanding In Awe Fire and MilkFire and Milk

4 Meteors4 Meteors

 


 

Sigma 50mm Art f/1.4

This Sigma lens is my go-to for lifestyle portrait sessions. A lot of photographers have a "nifty 50," 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 in their camera bag. For me, it was my first "real lens" beyond my kit lens. Your maximum shutter speed on a full frame camera is 10 seconds with this lens, so you might need to bump the ISO, rely on light painting, or light from the moon to help illuminate your foreground when using this lens. This isn't a lens I use often for astrophotography, but you certainly get a close look at the Milky Way, which is an impressive sight. 

Headlights and StarlightHeadlights and Starlight Wine Country BeaconWine Country Beacon HWY 46 - Pano with 50mmHWY 46 - Pano with 50mm

 


 

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS (honorable mention)

The 70-200mm lens (I have the IS, version 1) is probably the last lens that most folks consider for use with astrophotography. I am giving it an honorable mention here because, although I don't regularly use this lens for my astrophotography, it's capable of capturing unique images and is worth talking about and sharing some samples. 

The fact of the matter is, it can be quite useful, especially for photographing the full moon. But aside from that purpose, it gives you a really up close and personal view of the Milky Way, and is very useful for isolating subjects, as in the tree photo below. The last photograph of these three is a composite/star stack image of Comet Lovejoy captured with this lens. Next time you're out shooting, take out your telephoto lens, follow the 500 rule for shutter speed, and experiment. 

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Conclusion

I hope this was eye-opening for you, as it was for me upon using some of these lenses for this purpose. Although I will always favor the wider angle lenses for general purpose, wide-field astrophotography, it is great to know there are other lenses in our camera bags that we can use to add variety to our night sky portfolio. 

What lenses do you use for photographing the night sky?

 

**I may earn a small commission from my links above to any products or services that result in a purchase from Amazon. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you honest and useful information about photography and related equipment. Thank you for your support!**

 

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) astrophotography canon exposure gear info lens lenses long night rokinon sigma sky https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/lens-for-astrophotography Fri, 21 Aug 2015 23:58:39 GMT
Keith & Ramona - San Luis Obispo Mission and Ranch Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/keith-ramona---san-luis-obispo-mission-and-ranch-wedding IMG_9339IMG_9339 IMG_9434IMG_9434 IMG_9582IMG_9582
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Keith and Ramona are totally down to hang out and take photos; check, check. I knew when we took engagement photos this past spring that their wedding would be easy-peasy and fun, because they are so laid-back and awesome. We kicked things off at the mission in downtown San Luis Obispo for the ceremony, and then cruised up See Canyon to the family's private ranch to celebrate with friends and family. Special guests included Le Festin Events and a family of deer grazing on the hillside. The deer were neither harmed during the shooting of this wedding nor compensated for their presence. 

The photo below is a bit of a re-enactment from their engagement session, and you can sort of make out the printed photo on the wall to the right of them, standing in the same spot, similar angle, just for fun.

I'm so happy for these two and can't wait to see where their adventure leads next. 
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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) california central coast luis mission obispo ranch san slo wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/keith-ramona---san-luis-obispo-mission-and-ranch-wedding Wed, 19 Aug 2015 06:59:14 GMT
Behind the Shot - How To Take A Selfie With A Meteor https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/how-to-take-a-selfie-with-a-meteor window.picrSettings = { userId: "ze2y9wpq875lv", profileId: "0le2dezzjdkn3" };

Perseid Meteor Selfie - "Standing in Awe"

Behind the Shot

(As seen on PetaPixel)

With a little bit of patience and a whole lot of luck, I was able to capture this photograph of myself perched on a rock above the Pacific Ocean. When I set out to photograph the annual famed Perseids Meteor Shower in 2015, I had a specific goal of capturing a "selfie" photograph with myself in frame and hopefully a meteor streaking overhead, along with a variety of other images throughout the evening. My hope turned into reality in the wee hours of the peak morning.

IMG_0003IMG_0003Back of Camera Preview Standing In AweStanding In AweFinal Edited Version

Where to Look?

Capturing a meteor in frame requires a bit of luck, regardless of technical skill. Meteors will fall all across the sky at random during a shower, and there is no practical way to predict where exactly to point your camera or your eyes. Aiming for the constellation radiant, in this case Perseus, does not necessarily increase your chances of capturing a meteor, although your chances of witnessing one do increase once the constellation has breached your horizon.

Gear

Composing the Shot

Because of the erratic and unpredictable nature of the meteors, I decided to choose my camera configuration based solely on my desired composition. I'm a sucker for Milky Way photographs, so I decided to frame my shot with the Milky Way centered, and positioned my camera so this rock, and eventually myself, would be directly below the galactic core. I also setup a second camera with a wider angle lens off to the side to capture a second perspective.

Camera Settings and Method

I set my camera settings to ISO 6400, f/1.4, and chose a 15 second exposure time which is optimal for my Sigma 35mm Art lens on a full frame camera and minimizes unwanted star trails. Using a shutter release cable, I pressed the button, sliding it up to lock it into a continuous capture mode, and took my place on the rock. While I was on the rock, I did my best to hold still and struck a variety of poses, keeping my eyes on the heavens. Every time I saw a big meteor, I would hold that pose for as long as possible, to make sure both cameras had a chance to complete the current exposure before starting a new one.

Tips for Capturing Meteors

With meteors, it is very easy to get distracted from the purpose of creating a meaningful image, and focus on the act of capturing a meteor. When starting out, we just want to capture one, and I totally get that. But this isn't Pokemon and you don't gotta catch 'em all - you just need a few awesome ones with an interesting composition to back it up. What separates a plain-old meteor photo from a great one is having compelling subject matter. 

  • Find a subject that is interesting to you. 
  • Make sure you are able to focus on the subject and the stars
  • Scoot back away from your subject to help accomplish acceptable focus of subject and stars. 
  • Use a longer lens. I know this seems counter-intuitive, but with a longer lens (35mm on a full frame is near perfect) the meteors will appears larger and more spectacular in frame, than say, a 14mm lens.) 
  • Use a remote shutter release that has a locking button so you can take sequential photos until the battery dies or the memory card fills. 
  • Watch the sky for meteors that may have entered your frame, and check your camera afterward if you plan on working with different compositions. 
  • Once you have your shot with a big meteor, move on to your next composition.
  • Consider renting a second camera and piggyback your exposures so you can always be shooting even if you are setting up the other camera.
  • Enjoy and be patient. Let the meteors come to you. 

The Results

It took no more than 30 minutes after setting up, for this extremely bright meteor to streak across the sky. I knew immediately I had captured something special. My heart skipped a beat and I threw my hands up into the air. The exposure must have stopped just after I threw my hands up, because the photo shows my hands down, and if you were to zoom in you can see a faint silhouette of my hands in the air (like I just don't care.)

If you're interested in capturing photos of the night sky, check out my astrophotography workshops!

This image is available for print purchase in a variety of sizes and formats. Click here to purchase. Please contact me if you are interested in a commercial license.

Time Lapse Compilation

Below is a short time lapse assembled from select images captured during the meteor shower. Enjoy!

 

Keep scrolling for more images from the same night.

Standing In Awe - The Other AngleStanding In Awe - The Other Angle 4 Meteors4 Meteors Morro Bay MeteorMorro Bay Meteor

Perseid WindmillPerseid Windmill Meteor DuelMeteor Duel IMG_9335IMG_9335

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) 2015 astrophotography central coast info meteor milky night perseid photography san seascape selfie shooting shower silhouette simeon slo star way https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/how-to-take-a-selfie-with-a-meteor Fri, 14 Aug 2015 19:58:59 GMT
Behind the Shot - I Heart My Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/i-love-my-reverse-graduated-neutral-density-filter The Case for a Reverse Grad Filter

Upcoming Sunset Workshop: Click Here To Register

Typical graduated filters are darkest at one end, and gradually lighten up along the length of the filter. These are essential for any landscape photographer's kit, and are commonly used when the sun is above the frame, for instance in the late afternoon. They help balance the exposure of a bright sky and a darker foreground scene. The problem with this filter when photographing sunsets, is that the frame is typically brightest towards the middle, or top third, of the frame, meaning the photographer has to pull the filter down very far to position the darkest part of the filter over the brightest area of the image. The result is a very dark area in the top of the photograph and, overall, a not quite balanced exposure. I have used my standard 3 stop graduated filter in this scenario with mixed results. 

Shell ReflectionsShell Reflections

Hint: if you only have a 3 stop grad in your kit, the exposure becomes easier to balance after sunset and more so as time lapses. So stick around after sunset and wait for those pinks to come. In the photo above, the sun was obscured by large foreground objects, making the typical grad filter a workable solution.

A reverse graduated filter is a rectangular filter where the middle of the filter is darkest, and gradually fades lighter in one direction while abruptly fading off in the other. This means the darkest area of the filter can be easily positioned over the brightest area of the image. The dark area feathers off into the lower and upper parts of the image, allowing for a nearly even exposure captured in-camera. 

Shell Beach Sunset CrestShell Beach Sunset Crest

Before and After : Reverse Grad in Action

Looking below at the sample images, we can clearly see the benefit of using this filter. The photo on the left was taken with the exact settings as the photo on the right, seconds apart. In both photographs, the foreground is well-exposed. The image on the left has blown out highlights in the sky that are not possible to recover in post-production. I actually tried, just for fun, to fix the sky and the result is not worth posting. The light parts of the sky are simply white pixels with no color data (even though shot in raw), resulting in an un-usable image. 

The image on the right was captured with my reverse graduated filter in place and, as you can see, offers a well balanced exposure. There are some dark areas in the photograph that can be easily lightened up without leaving Lightroom. 

Before and After Reverse Graduated FilterBefore and After Reverse Graduated Filter

The Singh-Ray Reverse Graduated Filter

The Singh-Ray filter I use offers a flawless graduation from center to top, and feathers beautifully on the bottom half, making any necessary correction in post-production appear very natural. A clean, natural, photo-realistic result is always my end goal.

When my Singh-Ray reverse grad is used alone, I've had a truly color-neutral experience, which makes this filter completely worth the added cost when compared to competing filters. Since using this filter, I have avoided many annoying color correction scenarios I've previously experienced with filters from other manufacturers. None of these photos, even the final image, were color-corrected, and you are seeing the white balance straight out of camera; shot in auto white balance. 

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Conclusion

So there you have it. If you photograph a lot of sunsets, especially seascapes, I can't recommend this filter enough. There are a few other reverse grad filters on the market, but if you can scrounge up the pennies, I would purchase the Singh-Ray filter and call it a day. If you'd like to learn more about using filters to enhance your landscape images, contact me about one-on-one sessions, and check the workshop link for future workshops dates. 

Enjoy the sunset!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) filter graduated info landscape photography reverse seascape singh-ray sunset tutorial https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/8/i-love-my-reverse-graduated-neutral-density-filter Tue, 04 Aug 2015 07:21:14 GMT
Behind the Shot - Capturing the Full Moon in a Single Exposure https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/7/capturing-the-full-moon-in-a-single-exposure Capturing the Full Moon in a Single Exposure

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A Note About The Next Full Moon (Sunday, September 27, 2015) Moon Rise

Here is the rough schedule of the eclipse according to online sources:

Partial umbral eclipse begins: 6:07 p.m. PDT
Sunset: 6:52 p.m. PDT
Total eclipse begins: 7:11 p.m. PDT
Greatest eclipse: 7:47 p.m. PDT
Total eclipse ends: 8:23 p.m. PDT
Partial eclipse ends: 9:27 p.m. PDT

Take note that the eclipse is peaking just after sunset, which means we have the chance to photograph the eclipsing moon with some ambient light from the setting sun spilling onto our foreground.

When

The best time to capture the full moon and also be able to photograph your surroundings in a single, balanced exposure, is when the full moon is rising before sunset or setting just after sunrise. This allows for the moon to be positioned high enough above the horizon to be photographed, and also provides enough ambient light from the sun to illuminate your foreground subjects, allowing for even exposures of the moon and foreground captured in a single shot.  The moon will become more vibrant almost immediately after the sun has dipped below the horizon behind you for evening attempts, or just before it rises in the morning for sunrise. This moment of the sun being just below the horizon is the critical moment for capturing both a vivid, bright moon, and also having the most amount of ambient light from the sun possible for an even exposure. Quickly after these critical moments, the light from the sun will fade and your foreground will become silhouetted by the bright moon. If you miss the sunset time window, try back the next morning just before sunrise to attempt capturing the setting Moon. A note about sunrise: The final minutes before the Moon sets on the water is very difficult to capture a sharp image of the setting moon, due to moisture in the air either partially obscuring the moon or causing visual anomalies that make the moon appear to be a flat basketball in need of an air pump.

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Where

Find a location that is high in elevation, and/or free from obstruction of the eastern horizon for best results during sunset, and a clear western horizon for sunrise. For locations on the Central Coast of California, try Avila by the Harford Pier; from this angle the moon will be rising roughly over Pismo/Shell Beach area. For the moon set the next day, try any coastal location approximately South of Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, you will be able to observe the setting moon contacting the Western horizon.

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Shooting

As far as shooting techniques go, you will need a telephoto lens to best capture a detailed moon photograph. I typically use my 70-200 lens, and make sure the foreground subjects are far enough away that both the moon and foreground are in acceptable focus. Knowing your gear, and learning about hyperfocal distance and depth of field is helpful. Your best bet for exposure settings is to keep your aperture closed down, f/11 or smaller, to maximize depth of field. Keep your ISO low (to help control digital noise), and your shutter speed fast. Use spot-metering to expose properly for the moon. Use a tripod for best results, and turn on mirror lock-up to reduce camera vibrations. If your tripod needs more support, try shortening the legs and adding a weight to the weight hook, or use your body weight to hold down the tripod legs to prevent unwanted vibration.

The photo below of a recent Blood Moon was captured using an off camera flash to light the foreground, rather than a single exposure as discussed in this post. This is also a focus stacked image of two frames of the same exposure settings for maximum depth of field.

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Apps

Keep in mind, especially when referring to locations, that the position of where celestial objects rise and set changes throughout the year. I use a variety of apps on my iPhone to plan shooting my landscapes images. For the Sun and Moon rise/set times, as well as tide data, I highly recommend the app Tide Graph. For planning the location of your shoot based on where the Sun or Moon will rise or set on the horizon, LightTrac is a great app to have as well. Don't forget to check the surf report for coastal locations, and be safe!

Interested in learning more about photographing the night sky? Check out my Summer Astrophotography workshops coming soon!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) blood blue full honeymoon info moon rise set strawberry sunrise sunset https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/7/capturing-the-full-moon-in-a-single-exposure Thu, 30 Jul 2015 19:36:54 GMT
Chris & Aileen - Shell Beach Portrait https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/7/chris-aileen-shell-beach-couples-portrait PhotoIMG_7994

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Chris and Aileen were totally awesome to work with, so laid back, and not opposed to getting their feet wet. When the session starts off with some slippery rocks and dodging the surf, you know it is going to be a good one.

Last weekend I shot a promo video for my upcoming website relaunch, and part of that video shoot was a behind the scenes look at my portrait sessions. I work with Chris and he and Aileen were kind enough to volunteer for the shoot. We had a blast, and stayed mostly dry.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/7/chris-aileen-shell-beach-couples-portrait Wed, 15 Jul 2015 21:50:00 GMT
Paul & Victoria - Los Osos Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/7/paul-victoria-los-osos-wedding Photolos-osos-wedding01

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It was truly an honor to be a part of Paul and Victoria's wedding celebration at Sea Pines in Los Osos. Everything was beautiful; the people, the location, and the love. They are both so laid back, it made the day go smoothly.

I had a blast meeting up with them recently for their engagement session and I predicted this day would just as sweet. Their first dance was epic; beyond worthy of an animated gif sequence. Enjoy!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/7/paul-victoria-los-osos-wedding Thu, 09 Jul 2015 00:03:00 GMT
Street Photography - Downtown San Luis Obispo, CA https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/6/downtown-san-luis-obispo-street-photography-farmers-market Photo01

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A friend and myself operate a local photography club aptly named; Another Photography Club. The purpose of the group is to foster a social aspect amongst local photographers, by getting together once a month to take photos and hang out.

This month's meet-up was all about street photography, and we met up during the always-busy farmer's market in downtown San Luis Obispo, CA. Armed with only one camera and one lens, I had so much fun looking for interesting compositions and lighting. You just never really know what you are going to get with this kind of shooting, which makes it really fun. One moment there are guys on unicycles juggling bowling pins, and the next you are above the crowd shooting down.

I can't wait to get out there again and shoot more street. Please inquire about prints.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/6/downtown-san-luis-obispo-street-photography-farmers-market Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:03:00 GMT
Raushel - Shell Beach Graduation Portrait https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/5/raushel-graduation-portraits-pismo-shell-beach Photo01

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It is always an honor when someone chooses me to photograph their portrait or important event. Raushel's graduation portrait was no exception. We met at CSUB while going through the Communications program, and worked on various projects together throughout the course of our education. Raushel was always a smiling face on campus and that is something that certainly has not changed!

These are just a few of my selections from the session. Enjoy!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/5/raushel-graduation-portraits-pismo-shell-beach Tue, 26 May 2015 22:35:00 GMT
Paul & Victoria - Los Osos/Montana de Oro Engagement Session https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/5/paul-victoria-los-osos-engagement-portrait Photo01

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Had such a great time meeting up with Paula and Victoria for an engagement session, and can't wait for their wedding this summer! We kicked things off at the Los Osos Oaks Preserve and then ended up at Montana de Oro for a really nice sunset.

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/5/paul-victoria-los-osos-engagement-portrait Tue, 26 May 2015 22:19:00 GMT
Collin & Toni - Arroyo Grande Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/5/collin-toni-arroyo-grande-wedding Photo01collin-toni-arroyo-grande-wedding

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Collin and Toni's wedding was awesome.

It was an honor to photograph such an amazing couple that I also have the privilege of calling family (Collin is my wife's cousin!) I've witnessed them together since the beginning at family functions, Easter at the ranch, and even helping Lynn and Scott move to the coast. And every time they were together it has just made sense. It's always "Collin and Toni," and never just Collin; it's been a package deal since day one, and now it's just official.

They had their ceremony at the Gardens at Peacock Farms in Arroyo Grande and it was totally rad. These photos are just a handful of my favorites from the day. Enjoy!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/5/collin-toni-arroyo-grande-wedding Wed, 06 May 2015 23:03:00 GMT
Craig & Lacey - Pismo Beach Wedding https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/4/craig-lacey-pismo-beach-wedding Photocraig_lacey_pismo_wedding001

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I don't usually lead my blog posts with 6 photos in a row, but Sunday's celebration was just that rad. I'm so happy for Craig and Lacey, and beyond stoked to have been a small part of their big day.

When they first contacted me and told me their wedding would be at Seacrest Oceanfront Hotel in Pismo Beach, my heart did a backflip. I'm pretty obsessed with shooting in the sea caves below Seacrest and they had stumbled on a previous ceremony I shot down there and chose me based on that; which is both the biggest compliment I could ever receive but also the most exciting thing as a photographer.

Needless to say, it was a blast capturing their love in such an epic environment. We did a first look, which allowed for even more photos to happen both before and after the ceremony. This is just a sampling of my selections from their wedding. Enjoy!

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brady@bradycabe.com (Brady Cabe Photographer Central California photography) https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/4/craig-lacey-pismo-beach-wedding Tue, 28 Apr 2015 23:04:00 GMT
Keith & Ramona - Avila and SLO Engagement Session https://bradycabe.com/blog/2015/4/keith-ramona-avila-slo-engagement-portrait Photo01

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It was so awesome to meet Keith and Ramona and spend some time exploring the family's ranch! We kicked things off in Avila for a quick golden hour portrait or two on the beach, and then drove up the mountain to finish things off at a rustic barn. Stumbled upon this little meadow with flowers, and had to stop for a few quick photos. I'm so amped for their upcoming wedding, it's going to be epic.

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