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Photographic Portrait

Romance, Light & Magic in Photographs with D’Ann Boal

D'Ann Boal photo of a mom with her daughter on a horse in a valley
“I love to create magical images for my subjects. This was a mother-daughter photo session in my backyard with our horse. I made the flower crowns for my horse and subjects and waited until golden hour to shoot. The backlight was intense, so I added some fill flash in front to help lift the shadows on my subjects.”

D’Ann Boal defines her photographic style as romantic, filled with light and a little magic—and we agree. She is adept at being able to weave stories of love, wonder, peace and gratitude into her imagery. With a studio in a little cottage on her Colorado farm, she’s able to offer her clients the pastures of her farm, nearby country fields and mountain views under sunset skies along the Colorado Front Range.

When I was starting out over a decade ago and still finding my artistic voice, I wanted to create images that were light and airy. But as I’ve grown and found my voice, my style has evolved. The golden light and mountain views of Colorado have made their way into my artistic voice. I love warm, colorful imagery with lots of depth where light is one of the main subjects. My style is feminine and romantic, and I love incorporating flowers and painterly light into my work whenever possible. 

D'Ann Boal photo of a girl in a rowboat on a lake surrounded by clouds and reflections of clouds
“Every year I go down to the lake and take a portrait with my daughter in the water. Stepping away from client work and doing creative personal projects like this photo recharges my creativity and allows me to try new things that I can later apply to client photo sessions.”

D’Ann will add simple props when appropriate—as a statement piece, if you will—so long as it doesn’t compete with the story she’s telling. Less is more. And that can be something as simple as the movement of a flowery dress, bouquet of flowers or boat on the water to add a feeling of timelessness to the image.

Whether it’s a family out in a field in backlight, or a single subject in the studio under moody Rembrandt lighting, D’Ann strives to bring her creative vision to life. Instead of rushing and shooting a ton of images, she’ll slow down to create the photos that align with her artistic vision.

D'Ann Boal photo of a girl with a bouquet of orange flowers turning into Monarch butterflies
“On a recent trip to Paris, I woke in the middle of the night from a dream I had of a bouquet of flowers turning into butterflies. I’m always so inspired when I visit Paris. No place feeds my creative well more. I knew I wanted to create that portrait when I came home. I hung dozens of silk monarch butterflies with clear twine and got a bouquet of orange poppies to match. I used a few off-camera flashes to create directional light as well as backlight to illuminate my daughter.”

Heirloom Art Creation for Clients

Just as important as the photographs she makes is what she is able to create for her clients. As a professional photographer, it is important to her that the images she’s worked so hard to create get to be seen and enjoyed for years to come.

Whether it’s my own work or for my clients, I create art to be printed. It can be an heirloom coffee table album, prints to tuck on shelves around the home, or big pieces of fine art, my photographs are made with the intention to be shared and enjoyed in tangible form.

Just photographing a client and their family and delivering digital files is not for D’Ann. “I think the saddest outcome a photograph could have is to live on a flash drive collecting dust in the kitchen drawer,” she says. D’Ann explains that “when we sell only digital files, we miss out on the high profitability that selling products provides.” Selling products—prints, albums, wall-art—is a win-win business model. “We can be extremely profitable, while ensuring our clients have memories and artwork they love more with every year,” she adds.

Printed photographs have the power to bring us back in time. They remind us of our priorities. They make us laugh out loud. They are the bottled-up moment of what we love most.

D'Ann Boal portrait of woman wearing a wreath
“Inspired by the Dutch Master painters from European art galleries, I love to use light, texture and color to create painterly portraits. For this portrait I used 3 lights, a painted canvas background, and layers of tulle that I picked up from the local fabric store. To get the dark painterly effect, I used Rembrandt light and underexposed by one stop to really embrace the shadows.”

Always a Teacher

D’Ann is involved with The Click Community (formerly Clickinmoms), which gives its community members a place to ask questions, get support, critique photos, and learn. She teaches two workshops as a Click Pro Elite, The Art of Abundance: Business Strategies for the Boutique Photographer and Understanding Light. She has written three self-paced courses on light, editing and storytelling; and also hosts her own Farm & Fairytale Workshop.

D’Ann feels she was born to teach (she does have a Master’s degree in education). She uses Instagram as a way to share her knowledge with behind the scenes videos and photography tips. “I know how daunting it can be to see a polished Instagram page and think everything comes effortlessly,” she explains.”

Photography can be intimidating, so I love to show how easy it can be, or demystify a confusing concept, or simply show how much effort went into getting a shot! Teaching through social media, in-person at workshops and speaking events gives meaning to my work. If I can help others grow, it incentivizes me to keep learning and growing so I have more to share!  

D'Ann Boal photo of a girl with a dress made of flowers in water
“This was a shoot I got to do for a billboard project for ProPrints. I was given a small budget, and tasked to create an image that would go on Colorado billboards. I wanted to create an image with several of my favorite things in a single frame: My girl, flowers, water, and sunset sky. I spent several days making the skirt and waited for a calm evening at sunset to go to the lake to get the shot.”

We’re always interested to learn about those artists who are inspiration to our creators. D’Ann notes that she is influenced by many great creators: “Elena Shumilova’s ethereal use of light has influenced me from the beginning. Meg Loeks is a master and one of the most giving and prolific photographers I’ve met. I love the magical quality of Paige Tingey’s landscape work, and I’m always inspired by Jackie Haxthausen’s creativity. I am also influenced by movies and TV series like the use of light in Queen’s Gambit, the storytelling shots in Anne with an E, the soulful cinematography of the One Hundred Foot Journey, and poetry by Mary Oliver. “

Photographic Video

Content Creator Camera Choices

As a content creator or vlogger, you know that you need to be able to rely on your gear to be able to produce the quality content your followers demand. And that means a camera that you can depend on, like the Nikon Z series mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless cameras offer more features and functionality packed into a smaller package than the cameras your parents used to use. Sorry mom and dad!

The most important decision to make about a camera purchase is which one is right for your needs. So, you’ll want to think not only of what you’ll use the camera for today but what you might need it for in the future as well.

Dixie Dixon photo of a girl taking a selfie

Mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than DSLRs. If you want a super small and compact camera, an APS-C size/DX format model like the Z 30, Z 50 or Z fc would work well for your needs. Need the extra battery life, and robustness of a full frame/FX format camera? You may do well with the Z 5 or Z 6II.

And cameras are not just for taking pretty pictures either. Today’s mirrorless cameras can capture 4K video footage, time lapse videos in-camera and even slow motion at 100 or 120 fps.

Other features that are must-haves in today’s digital age are built-in Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi® so you can quickly and easily transfer photos and video to a compatible smartphone using the free SnapBridge app or transfer them wirelessly to a personal computer.

For the Do-It-Yourself Creator

For those creators who are the director, camera operator and host of your own videos, you’ve got flexible options for changing settings and starting and stopping video without having to walk off of your set to change settings.

The SnapBridge app on your smartphone practically turns your phone into a remote. Or use Nikon’s ML-L7 which is a small handheld remote that lets you control most Nikon mirrorless cameras.

The Creator’s Accessory Kit for Z 30 even gives you most everything you need to get started vlogging including a small handheld tripod/grip from Smallrig that even houses the ML-L7 remote control and a RØDE Videomicro™ microphone (with windscreen).

Why you need a dedicated camera

A mirrorless camera has a much larger and higher quality camera sensor than the one on your smartphone, so images and video you can produce in low light situations will look much better, be sharper, crisper and files will be cleaner with less noise. This makes post-production editing (if you need to go that route) much easier.

Along with the quality from the image sensor, you’ve got a lot more versatility in lens selection with an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. Choose from ultra-wide and wide-angle lenses to macro lenses, telephoto and super-telephoto focal lengths. The variety of focal length choices can really make a difference in how your content is differentiated from someone using a smartphone (limited zoom or macro capabilities or depth of field control) to really make your subject pop against the background. Lastly, a larger image sensor will be able to provide more resolution, so you can actually crop into photos or video if you need to without the file degrading to the point of being unusable.

Landscape Photographic

Photographing Nature on a Different Wavelength

Photo of trees with white foliage against a blue sky taken using an Infrared converted Nikon camera by Chris Baker
Bald Cypress Boardwalk at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, AL. Nikon Z 5 converted with an internal 590nm IR filter, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S lens at 14mm focal length, f/13, 1/50 sec, ISO 100.

Chris Baker regularly photographs nature on a different wavelength. Literally. Don’t know what we mean? We’ll explain. Chris uses Infrared (IR) photography techniques to create otherworldly images.

Chris has a day job, as an engineer for NASA and while you might think that photography as an art and engineering are polar opposites of one another, Chris explains that he uses the same thought processes for both.

While photography is considered an art, there is a science and technical side that engages my engineering, problem-solving side. My initial goal was understanding how the camera works, which came very natural for me. Once I had a fundamental understanding of the science of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, lenses, sensor types, and histograms, I felt like I could adapt to any genre of photography.

Another parallel between engineering and photography, is my approach to shooting. When I’m confronted with a scene, I treat it like I would any engineering problem. I go through a logic or decision flow that will guide my creative choices. What lens is required? Am I wanting to control depth of field (aperture) or motion (shutter speed)? Is a filter required? Should I shoot from a high perspective or low?

For Chris, the small details matter. And perspective is used to engage the viewer of his nature and wildlife images. He’ll deconstruct his favorite photos to understand why he’s drawn to them, then look for opportunities to apply those techniques in his own work.

Photo of a dandelion taken using an Infrared converted camera, by Chris Baker
Dandelion in Madison, AL. Nikon Z 5 converted with an internal 590nm IR filter, Mount Adapter FTZ, AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D IF-ED lens, f/13, 1/500 sec, ISO 160.

Infrared Photography Primer

Chris first ventured into Infrared photography in mid-2021, using a filter on the lens of his Z 6II. Within a short time he was hooked and invested in a converted Nikon camera body the next year.

Chris explains that the Hoya R72 (720nm) filter is a popular starting point for Infrared photography. It produces very strong, traditional monochrome Infrared images because it limits the amount of visible light entering the lens. And with some post-processing finesse, can generate false color images.

“The trick,” he says, “becomes working around the internal IR blocking filter incorporated into DSLR and mirrorless camera bodies.” You’ll need to use long shutter speeds, even on a bright sunny day, up to 30 – 90 seconds, which will limit you to shooting subjects that aren’t moving.

Trees in a nature preserve photographed with an infrared converted camera by Chris Baker
Hays Nature Preserve in Owens Cross Roads, AL. Nikon Z 5 converted with an internal 590nm IR filter, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S lens at 21mm focal length, f/10, 1/80 sec, ISO 100.

Inner Workings of Infrared Photography

Visible light occupies a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths ranging from 380 to 750nm. Infrared is at the longer wavelength, just above (>750nm).

All standard digital cameras have an internal, physical filter that blocks IR wavelengths from reaching the sensor. When converting a camera for infrared, this filter is removed and replaced with a filter that accepts the longer IR wavelengths (rejecting the shorter visible light wavelengths).

If you’re only interested in pure B&W images and maximizing the natural contrast of IR, then an 830nm can be installed that will accept only IR wavelengths (> 830nm). However, if the photographer is interested in generating false color images, a filter is installed with a wavelength cutoff that allows a mixture of visible and IR light. The more visible light allowed, the stronger the false color image. These “color” IR filters will have wavelength ranges from 720nm (weak color) to 470nm (strong color).

Fortunately, special lenses are not required for infrared.

But, photographers shooting with Infrared converted DSLR cameras have to compensate while focusing for the fact that there’s a difference in the wavelengths of Infrared light vs. visible light. You’d do this by either calibrating the focus of your AF lenses to work properly or manually focus and use the red IR focus scale on the lens.

Mirrorless cameras however, due to their design, actually compensate for the focus shift and are ideal for converting to Infrared photography only.

The other issue you may run into with your lens choice is a lens “hot spot” or bright, hazy circle that appears in the center of an IR image mainly due to the anti-reflective coatings on the lens. Hot spots vary in degree with some lenses being unusable and others exhibiting nothing. Mild or light hot spots can be corrected in post-processing. Fortunately, lens databases have been created to characterize hot spot potential and should be consulted when selecting lenses for IR photography.

Lastly, you’ll want to set a custom white balance, either in the camera or in post-processing software. My workflow involves the latter. Even with a proper white balance, the skies in false color IR images will take on a red tone. So, I’ll use Adobe Photoshop to perform a “channel swap”, where the red and blue channels are swapped to restore the sky to blue. Then further adjustments to the other color channels can manipulate the hue and saturation of foliage to yellow or pink or white.

Red Waterfalls photographed by Chris Baker using an Infrared converted camera
Mardis Mill Falls in Blountsville, AL. Nikon Z 5 converted with an internal 590nm IR filter with an external 16-stop Neutral Density filter on the lens, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S lens at 25.5mm focal length, f/10, 30 sec, ISO 125.

Chris has one Nikon Z 5 that is converted to Infrared with a 590nm supercolor filter.

This filter allows me to produce strong false color images, while still retaining enough contrast to convert into B&W in post-production if I decide to produce a more traditional monochrome IR image.

For scenarios where I know I’ll want a black and white image, I’ll attach my 720nm external filter to limit the visible light even further and isolate more of the IR spectrum.

Eye-catching Subjects

Chris says nature and landscape photography is his first love. Noting that Infrared photography is at its most effective in nature scenes with the way foliage and water and sky contrast. Objects that absorb IR light, such as sky and water, will render very dark and objects that reflect IR will render very bright.

It’s such a different and distinctive look that cannot be replicated in software. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of taking something familiar and finding a unique way of shooting it, whether it’s trying different lenses or changing camera angles or experimenting with artificial lighting. Infrared is yet another tool to add to my toolbox for this purpose.

With monochrome IR imagery, textures and patterns in nature that are normally hidden by dark greens in leaves or bright colors in flowers become more prominent. In false color imagery, I’m not bound by traditional colors. Trees and grass can become yellow or magenta or pink or blue and give a scene a dream-like or other-worldly quality.

We asked Chris which subjects he felt worked better for Infrared photography.

Any scene with live foliage tends to look better in infrared because the typical green leaves and blue skies are not a dynamic color combination.

Think about the popularity of photographing fall foliage, he explains, where photographers will flock to capture the changing leaves because they’re more interesting and appealing to see. IR offers this same visual appeal but I can shoot in the middle of the day in the heat of the summer and generate a false color image of a tree in pink or yellow contrasted against a deep blue sky. Or, take that same scene and render it in B&W to make the foliage appear white against a black sky giving the scene a wintery look.

Photo of yellow foliage on trees and grass against a deep blue sky, infrared photography by Chris Baker using a converted camera
Soybean Sunrise in East Limestone County, AL. Nikon Z 5 converted with an internal 590nm IR filter, NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S lens at 24mm focal length, f/11, 1/400 sec, ISO 100.

Problem solving

While Chris has a love for nature and wildlife, he says he’ll experiment in most other genres as it satisfies his problem-solving nature. “Each has its own unique challenges and I love that problem solving aspect and opportunity to expand my knowledge.” He also does a lot of macro shooting—of flowers and insects.

He says that the most successful images document some type of interesting behavior.

“To capture those moments requires patience, persistence, a tolerance for bugs, and a willingness to get dirty, as I prefer to shoot from very low angles”, he concludes.

Photographic Portrait

Storytelling Through Photography

Inari Briana portrait of a female model smiling with eyes closed

Inari Briana is a photographer first and foremost however she also delves into the world of content creation because, as she says, “there is no limit to how creative you can be.”

Inspired by cinema, music, and pop culture, her work is split about 50/50 commercial and portraiture.

“Growing up, I was always an escapist. I would dive into the world of television, letting my mind roam and thinking of ways to enhance what I see and pay homage to those who’ve come before me. I would get inspired by the photographs in magazines and advertisements. Whenever something caught my eye, I always found a way to make it my own.”

Inari defines her work as colorful, bold and cinematic.

“I am very particular about the colors I use in my portraits. Cinema and film will forever play a role in how I capture my images, whether it be the colors or how it’s shot.”

Another important element to her work is storytelling.

“Storytelling is the embodiment of how my imagery looks. Every image I capture has a meaning behind why it is captured. Although some images are only used for promotional purposes, I still manage to find ways to express myself through my own projects. What better way to do that than with the art of storytelling?”

Inari Briana portrait of a couple in an embrace, with closed eyes

Stepping in front of the camera

“I make it my mission to bring the beauty and confidence out of each person I shoot,” Inari says. In fact, she has often taken to stepping in front of the camera to show how anyone can be confident.

“Being in front of the camera used to be the biggest challenge for me. Meeting me now, you’d never believe that at one point in time, I was shy and self-conscious about how I looked.” She explains that it was necessary for her to see herself as others do. “Being in front of the camera truly helped with my confidence 100%,” she says, adding, “Not only did it help with my confidence, but it revealed how I should go about directing my models for shoots and creating an atmosphere where my clients feel the most confident.”

I believe that everyone is beautiful even when they don’t believe it themselves. Confidence is a viable trait to have and could sometimes be hard to gain or maintain. If there is any way to make sure that each person, I work with can give me at least 95%, I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

“Growing up, I had always been insecure about the color of my skin. It took me a very long time to embrace the skin that I’m in. Although I can shoot any and every skin color, I enjoy shooting dark skin and highlighting that black skin is very beautiful.”

Inari Briana portrait of a young man in water with leaves

Surrounding yourself with like-minded creatives

Inari is a member of the Black Women Photographers group. She explains how important the group is for like-minded creatives:

“Having a group like Black Women Photographers is extremely important for women like myself. We need a support system like BWP to give younger creatives a chance to see that they aren’t alone and that there are opportunities and resources for all of us, despite what we may have always believed.”

Inari elaborates further:

“There are many challenges that come with being a black photographer let alone a black female photographer. You can believe your work is just as good as the next person but there is always going to be someone right behind you telling you that you’re not that great… It can sometimes feel like there are so many things stacked against you.”

Inari Briana portrait of a young woman with flwers painted on her face

Prepping for a shoot

Inari explains how she goes about creating concepts for her commercial shoots. She begins with mood boards or pitch decks. Once a concept is agreed upon, she’ll start producing the project. “I am constantly looking for ways to create something different [for every shoot],” she explains, though her style can be seen throughout all of her work.

Inari utilizes both backgrounds and props smartly, depending upon the type of shoot she’s on. She’s even found herself finding small props and creating shoots around them. She loves using textured backdrops as well. She notes that set design really helps you set the tone for how your projects will run. “I love color. I also tend to find myself being very minimal with colors so when I do use it, I make sure it stands out and sets the tone for the shoot,” Inari says.

Inari Briana portrait of a model sitting in a chair with a brown background

A tip for young creatives

We asked Inari for advice she’d offer to young creatives thinking about a career in photography. “Don’t talk about it [leaping into photography], just do it. The more you talk about it, the easier it is to talk yourself out of it. Just rip the band-aid off and start the journey. You won’t regret it,” she concludes.

Food Photographic

Cooking Up Mouthwatering Food Photographs

Bella Karragiannidis photo of a baker making a raspberry cake
Raspberry coffee cake in the making

Bella Karragiannidis and her husband started their popular food blog Ful-filled as a way to share their passion for real food, true health and living life with purpose. Their dream is to write a cookbook together. Since Bella had always had an interest in photography, she easily gravitated to photographing the food they cooked for the blog.

Bella’s cooking and photography skills are self-taught, although she had taken some photography classes in high school. Her passion for art and design comes through in her imagery. 

Bella Karragiannidis photo of a pumpkin mousse pie and piece on a plate
Pumpkin Mousse pie

Food photography prep

When it comes to capturing food at its best, preparation is key.

Bella finds the best way to prepare for her shoots is to select props, set up the camera and test the lighting set-up before she begins to prepare the food. “This way I can capture my final shots quickly, so the food looks its freshest,” she says.

And because she and her husband eat everything she makes, you won’t find any fake ingredients in her dishes. 

She does note that on commercial shoots, she may employ some of the more well-known non-edible ingredients that food photographers rely on to achieve project goals.

My biggest inspiration comes from the seasons. Cooking with the seasons means that seasonal produce is a large part of what I photograph. 

Bella Karragiannidis photo of just harvested quince fruit
Quince harvest

Setting the table… for the shot

As you’ll find with many genres of photography, composition is one of the key elements of making a great food photograph. Bella explains how some of the compositional decisions are made when she’s creating images. 

Flat lays and overhead shots are a great way to showcase ingredients and recipes. It also echoes the viewpoint of the cook or the person who gets to enjoy the food, so this perspective feels very natural to the viewer. 

She notes that interest is generated through the use of props, compositional arrangement and selective cropping.

Rather than just featuring one dish perfectly centered, for example, interest can be added to a photo by using varying sizes of props (plates, bowls, platters, cutlery, glassware) and by arranging them in a loose, organic manner. When a portion of a plate or prop is cropped out, this can help anchor the image and guide the viewer to focus more closely on the details of the main subject. 

And adding in the cook, chef or baker adds to the image, making it more personal and helping the viewer connect with the creator of the delectable dish. 

Incorporating the human element is a powerful way to tell stories in food photography. Whether it is to show an example of a cooking technique or to add a sense of celebration, utilizing the human element is a great way to connect the viewer to a food photo. 

Bella Karragiannidis photo of a woman ready to eat a pot pie
Mushroom & wild rice pot pie

Challenges, advice & looking into the future

We asked Bella what challenges she’s had in her work. 

The challenges of food photography tend to change depending on what you are shooting. Foods like meat and ice cream are very time sensitive, as their looks change dramatically based on their temperature. In contrast, it can also be difficult to capture simple foods in compelling ways – this is when composition becomes the challenge. 

She explained that she and her husband plan on moving back to Greece in the future, so that her work, “will become even more influenced by the foods and culture of the country.” She says they also plan to renovate an old home in their village, which will be a joy to chronicle through her camera.

Bella Karragiannidis photo of plums just picked from the tree
Fresh picked plums, straight from the plum tree in our backyard. Much of the produce that I photograph was either grown on our property or in our neighborhood.

We asked Bella for advice on other creators looking to delve into food photography. 

Never forget that you are an original. By nature, there is no one like you. Which means that no one else thinks like you, sees like you, and therefore, no one else can create like you. It is easy to feel discouraged when there are SO many food photographers in the world, but if you have a passion, then you have a unique perspective that is worth sharing.

Photographic Wildlife

Grazing on Images of Wild Horses

Somer McCain photo of horses in silhouette against the sky
Ridge runners of the Stewart Creek herd area, Wyoming.

Wildlife and equine photographer Somer McCain has always had a love for horses, having grown up riding them. After moving to Colorado a few years back, she began photographing horse shows and wild horses. “I feel like I’ve found a niche that I’m very passionate about in the wild horses,” she explains. Other wildlife Somer often photographs include elk, pronghorns, coyotes, grouse, and raptors, which she’ll come across when searching for wild horses.

Check out her Instagram feed and you’ll see it is full of images of wild horses.

“As a horse person, being able to watch them in the wild feels pretty special. You get to witness behaviors and interactions that are otherwise micromanaged in domestic horses to minimize injuries. The flip side is that you get to witness the natural consequences of that and see life come full circle.”

Somer McCain photo of a family of 3 horses on the open plains
Small family band at sunrise in Lost Creek herd area, Wyoming.

Somer is acutely aware of the etiquette around photographing wildlife. For example, wild horse viewing dictates you keep a minimum 100 feet from the animals so you don’t disturb them causing them to change their behavior. Because of this she will often use a 500mm lens on her Z cameras.

“The horses I photograph vary from overly curious and walking towards me to some that will take off at the sight of my vehicle from a mile away. My main lens now is the 500mm and its managed to be a pretty good sweet spot for the variety of tolerance the horses have for my presence.”

Somer McCain photo of a horse in B&W
“Stallion keeping an eye on me near Pilot Butte Scenic Horse Loop, Wyoming.”

As with many other types of photography, composition and lighting are both integral parts of Somer’s photography.

Placing the horizon lines in the lower third of the images showcases the great open spaces they’re found on.

“I always knew wild mustangs were out there but never gave much thought to ‘where?’ So I definitely like to showcase the spaces they’re in when I can to emphasize that they do not live in a vacuum and make their existence in the wild more real for others.”

“I really like getting backlit photos when I can. I feel like it conveys the same sense of magic and wonder that I experience when I’m out there. And while I’d like to have my preferred lighting in all scenarios, it’s really dependent on if I can find the right horses at the right time. So I take what I can get and work around what the horses will let me have.”

Somer explains: “For instance, the silhouettes with the blue sky is one of my favorites and a really lucky shot. This particular herd always takes off when they see my vehicle and I was very fortunate to be slightly ahead of them and turn off onto a dirt two track road just in time to catch them up high on a ridge. One of my favorite parts of photographing wild horses is that a lot of my shots feel ‘lucky’ because I really can’t explicitly plan out shots that I want. It’s very much a hunt of sorts.”

She continues, “For less reactive horses I really like to get them with a softer light to emphasize the delicate and emotional interactions they can have with each other.”

Somer McCain photo of a horse with bokeh in the foreground
‘Tango’ pinto stallion of Sand Wash Basin, Colorado.

5 tips for photographing horses, wild & domestic:

  • For wild horses, a good ability to read horse/wildlife behavior in general is very helpful. Too much physical presence applies pressure to them that will cause them to move away from you or potentially have an aggressive reaction. It’s important to remember these are wild horses and will react to protect themselves or let you know if you ever get too close.
  • You must keep at least 100 feet from wild horses you encounter.
  • When photographing, the positioning of the legs can be important. Having their hind legs under them and their front legs really reaching forward implies a sense of power and forward movement. While having their legs “just anywhere” can make them appear gangly and awkward.
  • They also spend a lot of time with their heads down and hidden while grazing, so you have to be patient and wait for them to pick up their heads.
  • Be prepared to do a bit of driving when photographing wild horses. Many of the herd areas have mostly decent roads throughout hundreds of thousands of acres so driving a lot is a guarantee but seeing horses where you want them to be is not.
Somer McCain photo of a horse and foal
Foal and yearling sharing a moment near Pilot Butte Scenic Horse Loop, Wyoming.

Photographic Portrait Street

Mighty Little Snapshooter

Bobby Kenny III photo of a couple in low light
Self-portrait using the headlight of Bobby’s motorcycle to backlight himself and his fiancé. The camera was set with a 10 second self-timer and the couple were on their knees to position the light exactly where it was wanted.

Portrait and wedding photographer Bobby Kenney III recently had the opportunity to use the compact and lightweight NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 lens and shares some of the images he created as well as his thoughts about this compact prime mirrorless lens.

“The NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 lens is an absolutely wonderful lens, and to be honest one of my favorite lenses for portraits.”

He explains that the lens is wide enough to make it versatile in shooting portraits—both close-up and full length. Having previously used a 20mm prime for portrait photography, Bobby says the 28 is a perfect middle ground: “to capture the unique wide angle look that I want for my portraits and while still looking natural.”

Another great benefit of this lens is its size, how small and lightweight it is. This lens gives a powerfully unique perspective and really aids in the capturing of eye-catching portraits.

Both prime lenses and zoom lenses have their place in a photographer’s camera bag, and while Bobby has used zooms, he says he really loves prime lenses.

“Prime lenses have a clean, crisp look to them. They also inspire and enable more creativity with angles, as they lead you to move around more and test out your range of different perspectives.”

Bobby Kenny III photo of a girl and her reflection outdoors
Shooting portraits with mirrors and reflections has a powerful effect on photos. Bobby explains that he loves the aesthetic look of symmetry, which would have been unachievable in this portrait without the reflection. Note that its Bobby’s shadow that creates the ability to see the model clearly on the other side of the glass, as it blocks the reflection of what’s behind him.

Benefits of Z Mirrorless

“The Nikon Z system is the greatest camera system I’ve ever used. It produces extremely high quality and high-resolution images, and has such a clean, natural look to them that I haven’t seen with other systems.”

Bobby says using the Z system has also made shooting much simpler. With the electronic viewfinder, shooting has never been so easy and precise. As you change the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, you can see how the picture is going to look before you take it, unlike the constant back and forth of checking pictures taken on a DSLR to make sure they’ll turn out okay.

He notes that the autofocus is also extremely quick, which is a huge help when photographing weddings. Other features he can’t live without include the low light shooting capabilities and the high quality of the NIKKOR Z lenses, which he says, “are phenomenal, and far surpass any lenses I’ve used with a DSLR.”

Bobby Kenny III photo of a girl and reflections from behind glass
Shooting through glass can be a little bit of a challenge, since the model on the other side can’t really hear Bobby’s directions. He’ll pose as an example for the model to replicate.

Beautiful Beautiful Bokeh

Bokeh is something that Bobby utilizes often in his images.

“The bokeh from a wide aperture lens is absolutely beautiful. It really helps to draw the focus to the subject, and really makes portraits pop. There is so much you can do with creating an aesthetic background using bokeh, as shapes, colors and lights blurred out in the background really add to the artfulness of the picture.“

“The same is true with the foreground, whether it’s subtle circles from lights, blurred colors from leaves, or anything else you can use in between you and the subject to add a creative touch to portraits, the wide aperture really extends your horizon for the composition and feel of a photo.”

Bobby Kenny III photo of a guy looking at the camera with long dreadlocks
I had to really duck down to capture this one of Keem! The round multi-floor architecture and the glass rotunda of the Cleveland Arcade was absolutely gorgeous, and with the wideness of the 28mm I was able to really capture its beauty for the backdrop!

Getting into the Picture

As a photographer, it also helps that Bobby himself is a model, so self-portraits are often the norm in his imagery.

“I love taking self-portraits.” To execute this, he’ll place his camera on a tripod, set the self-timer to 10 seconds (sometimes 20), and run into the scene. I really enjoy being able to insert myself into my work, and I would encourage all photographers to do it from time to time.”

Bobby Kenny III photo of a girl in sunlight with trees in the background
“For this shoot with Cassady, we had a lot of fun just simply walking through downtown Dayton, Ohio, looking for random patches of direct sunlight. Unlike most photographers, I love direct sunlight. When you place a model in a small patch of it with shadows surrounding, it creates a beautifully intense contrast. It really helps background colors to pop and the model to be the dramatic center of focus.”

Augmenting Reality

Along with props (check out this previous article) which can add to a photographer’s creativity, Bobby also utilizes shooting through glass windows often as well as using prisms to create a unique look.

“I really enjoy shooting through glass, as you never know how the reflections are going to look. It adds an abstract artsiness of shapes and lines to portraits. You can move ever so slightly to the right or left, and both the lights from inside and the background outside all move, which is really fun to explore.”

Using prisms can really add to a composition, Bobby notes. It can turn “a simple portrait with lights in the background into a unique artsy conceptual photo with an interesting depth of field.”

Bobby Kenny III photo of girl with lights and reflections from a prism
From the last set of images shot that day, Bobby spotted the lights and knew he had to photograph them. Alli was game. He says he had her stand under the lights and grabbed a prism. “My goal was to just surround her with the lights, using the prism to add a foreground of the lights that were behind her and above her.”
Photographic Portrait

Go Play: With Depth of Field for Beautiful Bokeh

Gabriela Herman photo of a woman among cherry blossoms
Taken during Cherry Blossom season, the wide f/2 aperture of the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens lets you get creative with depth of field.

Gabriela Herman is a commercial, editorial and lifestyle photographer who had the opportunity to shoot with the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens early on. After putting the lens through its paces, Gabriela found it to be the “perfect ‘take with you everywhere’ lens not only for the focal length but also the size of the lens, being lightweight and super portable. It’s wide enough to capture full scenes but also can be used for beautifully composed portraits. It’s a great lens for a travel shoot if you can only take one with you,” she says.

The NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 is an ultra-compact prime lens that is easily at home on an FX or DX format Z series mirrorless camera. The lens is a 60mm equivalent on a DX format camera. The fast f/2 aperture makes it ideal for shooting in low light. The wide aperture lets you play with depth of field to create images with beautiful bokeh. And with its small size, you’ll want to take it everywhere.

Gabriela Herman photo of a couple out of focus and plants in the foreground
Photograph of a couple, purposely out of focus in the background. Easily captured because of the wide aperture of the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens.

Gabriela added Z series mirrorless cameras to her photographic gear after having the opportunity to shoot with the Z 50 (DX) camera.

“I love the portability, the size and weight of the Z cameras compared to my DSLRs. It [really] is the perfect camera to just take with me anywhere.”

Gabriela Herman photo of a woman holding a lens ball with her portrait showing
Isabella holding a lens ball. Props like this make for fun and creative portraits. The NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens allowed Gabriela to get close to her subject for this image.

This shoot was a dream assignment, Gabriela says, in that she had the freedom to do the talent casting, location scouting and had the ability to shoot in her own photographic style. And that’s the ultimate goal—to shoot with your own voice.

Idea Generation

Idea generation often comes from a client, but not always. “Sometimes I’ll create a mood board but I always make time to try something that isn’t on the shot list,” she says, adding: “Scouting is key. For me it’s more about being in the place, seeing the light and interacting with my subjects that I get inspired to take the shoot in a certain direction.”

Gabriela Herman photo of a man in a blue hoodie in a marsh
Using a wide aperture on the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens to separate Omari from the background.

Because Gabriela does a mix of editorial, commercial and lifestyle work, we asked her which she feels gives her the most creative freedom. “Editorial for sure, but more so than that, shooting for myself will always be the most freeing, where I can take the most risks and try new things. It’s those images and process that fuel me,” she explains.

Gabriela says she get often gets inspired by other photographers. “I love seeing what they’re up to on social media, it definitely motivates me.”

Gabriela Herman photo of a woman lying on colorful stairs
Lizzy, lying upside down on a set of colorful stairs, showcasing the wide view of the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens.

Dream Jobs

Gabriela specializes in travel, food and lifestyle imagery so we asked her, what if you had to pick just one. Which would it be and why?

“I love that I’ve been able to have a career and not have to choose! I love being able to switch from one to the other. Travel photography is actually a perfect mix because when delivering a travel essay you generally need to provide a little food, some portraits, landscapes, interiors, details, a mix of everything and that’s how I love to shoot.”

“I love how photography takes me to places I’d never have known about—like the world of rodeo queens, or attending the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Gabriela Herman photo of a woman among marsh reeds
Lizzy wearing a colorful outfit, in the middle of a salt marsh. The wide field of view of the NIKKOR Z 40mm f/2 lens lends itself to photographs such as this one.
Landscape Photographic

Bold Composition

Soft morning light graces wildflowers and coastal plants along the Sonoma Coast, California.

David Thompson is an ordinary guy with a love for landscape photography. And with his images, he brings the viewer along on this journey to view the world’s natural beauty. His distinct style shines through images that speak volumes for themselves. Bold, vibrant colors and strong lines fill photographs that utilize light for added compositional effect.

“Landscape photography has made me have an appreciation for nature and the world we live in. My goal as a landscape photographer is to capture an intimate moment and bring the viewer into the scene as if they were standing right beside me.”

As the sun rises to the east and starts to creep over the nearby mountains, the expansive field of saguaro cacti, becomes backlit, bringing the desert to life. Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

Composition is a key component with David’s imagery, using strong leading lines, or if the scene demands it, contrasting colors, dark to light transitions or overlapping layers. “I like my images to have some type of visual flow and balance,” he explains.

David defines his work as diverse, quiet, reserved, subtle, with a little spice and flavor. Like other creators, he finds inspiration in many forms: in music, other landscape photographers, family and friends, and from ordinary everyday people trying to uplift others.

“What I love about the landscape is each one speaks differently and has its own unique character. I enjoy photographing these various characteristics of the landscape, as I find it intriguing and fascinating.”

David’s favorite time of day is sunrise, when soft light gives way to scenes awash with color. “The landscape is still and quiet first thing in the morning. I will always enjoy the soft pre-dawn light,” he says.

Many of his other images feature bold pops of color, strong lines carving through the landscape and often one color blanketing an entire scene, only to be broken up by highlight and shadow.

The midnight sun of summer breaks through the clouds to the west, displaying magical light, at one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls on the Southern Coast. Seljalandsfoss, Iceland. Using a small aperture of f/16 allowed for the starburst effect.

Go Big or Go Small

Landscape photography often encompasses everything from the smallest of minute details to wide open vistas.

Incoming waves pound a small sea cave along the northeastern coast of Maui during a winter sunrise. Waianapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii.

“For me, I enjoy photographing smaller scenes. These are the scenes that people tend to overlook. The smaller scenes are challenging, as they don’t just stand out like the wide vistas. I think this is what makes the images more rewarding, when you can capture something unique and different. I also like that the smaller detailed scenes, because these are scenes that you can call your own.”

Glacial rivers meander seamlessly over the volcanic landscape like a paint brush on a canvas, on the Southern Coast of Iceland.

David offers the following advice for other landscape photographers: “Be yourself, be humble, be patient, accept the failures…small or big, trust the journey, dare to be different, take risks and step outside of the box with your imagery; and let the light dictate how and what you photograph.”

Landscape Photographic

Water. Powered.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls at sunset in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Have you ever looked at images of waterfalls with the silky smooth look to the water and thought to yourself, how did the photographer do that? Jeremey, fascinated with water and the power it holds was hooked from the first long exposure waterfall image he saw. It doesn’t hurt that he’s only about 10 minutes from Niagara Falls in New York, which made it easy to practice the technique. The Finger Lakes region is full of picturesque waterfalls and is also accessible to him by car.

Jeremey’s images have a strong sense of mood. He defines his work as “something different with a slightly cinematic feel to it.”

Since many picturesque spots are also popular “instagram spots” Jeremey says he’ll make that quick shot but immediately look for a new angle or perspective to create something uniquely different from the crowds.

My favorite times to shoot are during sunset and sunrise. I love the light produced during these times. When the sun is low in the sky, it can create some great shadows which helps with the mood. I also tend to shoot a little underexposed to protect the highlights.

When everyone is shooting a sunset, I’ll turn around and see what’s behind us.

I try and push my colors around and find a unique look for a scene. Some of my favorite photographers have created a unique aesthetic and I strive to find my own as well.

Inspired by nature

Jeremey finds inspiration from nature.

Photography lets the busy world slow down and slip away for a few minutes. I always aim to try and show the viewer something they have never seen before.

One may think that a landscape photographer just goes out and snaps whatever scene is in front of their camera, but that isn’t always the case.

Whenever I plan a shoot, I spend a lot of time beforehand planning what types of shots I want to capture. I tend to look for natural lines. Once on a location, I look around for things I can use in frame, rocks in the water or a fallen tree. My goal is to try and create an interesting image. Sometimes that means sticking my lens through nearby trees or bushes to get a frame around my subject. I love layers and depth in my images. The foreground of a landscape is incredibly important, sometimes as much as the main subject. Sometimes you can just get low to the ground to add some interest.

Jeremey shares this analogy: To me, it’s like the frosting on the cake. Yeah, cake is good, but it’s that much better with frosting. A landscape photo can be great but with an interesting foreground or framing, it can be that much better.

I always push myself to try and find a new view, to capture something different. I think that comes from shooting Niagara Falls. When a location is shot so often, you have to think differently to find something unique.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls during autumn in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S.

Step by Step

Jeremey finds that sunrise and sunset are the best times to shoot, as they can be quite moody and dramatic.

I love shooting at and after sunset the most. I love the warmth you get when shooting during sunset or sunrise. You can also get some colors in your skies that adds interest to your image. With the sun being lower in the sky, you can get more dramatic shadows and highlights. Blue hour is also a great time to shoot. The blue tones you can capture play well off of a warm sunset or sunrise image.

Go to settings:

  • Shutter speed is a 1 second exposure, adjusting it based on the flow of the waterfall. For high, fast flowing water, an image can often be taken with a somewhat faster shutter speed. Those with a slower water flow need a longer exposure.
  • He’ll also look at the surrounding scene, tree branches or bushes, and adjust the shutter speed to balance out the moving water to the moving foliage.
  • To pull detail out of the smooth water and the surrounding scene, Jeremey sets an f/stop at f/8 – f/11.
  • And he typically uses a 2-5 stop variable ND / Mist filter to help block the light for longer exposures. The mist portion of the filter helps to bloom some of the highlights for a dream-like look.

To me, a silky-smooth waterfall always looks good but there can be times when the waterfall has an interesting look when frozen in time. A higher fall can really help the water to create some interesting shapes.

Jeremey Jamieson photo of Chittenango Falls in autumn
Chittenango Falls during autumn in New York. Captured on the Nikon Z 6 and the NIKKOR Z 70-200 f/2.8 VR S.

Knowing your subject

Shooting at Niagara Falls can be a real gamble sometimes. The mist from the falls can really add some character to an image. It can catch the golden light from a sunset and really bring in some color. When moving the right way, it looks great, however the mist is at the mercy of the wind. There are times at the Horseshoe Falls when the wind blows the mist back into the falls which can block a good view. It can also soak your lens and equipment. Thankfully with the weather sealing in the Z 6, I don’t worry too much about it.

Whenever traveling, Jeremey is always on the lookout for a new waterfall to photograph. On day trips or family vacations, if there’s a waterfall in the area, he’ll plan to stop and shoot it.

Shooting new waterfalls is always thrilling and exciting but there is also comfort and familiarity shooting Niagara Falls. Being so close, I can run up to the park when I have some free time.

We asked Jeremey to share some advice for other landscape photographers:

  • Learn to shoot in all conditions.
  • Pay attention to your composition and adjust for distracting elements.
  • Experiment with different focal lengths and find your style. A wide-angle lens can show a large scene, full of interest. A telephoto lens will let you pick out details and find new looks.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Learn color theory. It can really help when editing colors and moving tones around without the image falling apart.