Kev's Kaptures: Blog en-us (C) Kev's Kaptures [email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:41:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:41:00 GMT Kev's Kaptures: Blog 120 54 8 Great Fall drives in Colorado Autumn is my favorite time of year to take photos and long drives. We have so many scenic byways and gorgeous places in Colorado and when the leaves change people flock to the mountains. Forums are already buzzing with pictures of leaves starting to change and people wondering where and when they should search for leaves... your insider’s knowledge is right here:



Generally the third and fourth week of September are ideal to take a long drive through the mountains, but you have to time it just right. It's difficult to predict when exactly the leaves will turn in any given location.  Last year the leaves were still nice into the middle of October.  Most places change leaves within one to two weeks, you have to be fast and pay attention – particularly to social media or websites that predict leaf change (there are a ton of ‘em, one of my go-to’s is Also note that leaves change in the northern part of Colorado before the southern areas.



I think this is what stumps people the most when planning a fall foliage drive in our state. Here are my top 4 northern and top 4 southern gold hunting places, boom:

Northern Colorado

1) Boreas Pass and Breckinridge- Boreas pass is a nice drive indeed. It can get a bit crowded up there, but that is for a reason. There are a few sections of this pass where the trees bend outwards toward the road, it makes canopies of gold over your head as you walk down the road. I recommend you walk sections of this road and take it all in.

Boreas Pass

2) Mueller state park- this one doesn’t have the best aspens in Colorado, so you might ask why is it on our list? Mueller is a great place to take kids or family. It’s a hidden gem just outside of Divide. You will see many species of birds and wildlife if you sit quietly there. Once you hit Mueller, your drive home can easily go through Victor and Cripple Creek for your golden leaf payout.

3) Guanella Pass- located just outside of Conifer. This pass is paved for the most part and reaches 11.700 feet in elevation. This 25 mile road has sections of 2 of Colorado’s national forests.

Guanella PassGuanella Pass

4) Aspen and Minturn- more of an area than a specific drive, Minturn has easy access to many highways and loops. This gorgeous little town has vistas and a river running past groves of gold and red. Nice canyons abound to the south of Minturn. The neighboring town of Aspen has many roads around it that are breathtaking. A simple Google search of drives around Aspen and Minturn will find you may options that seldom disappoint.


Southern Colorado

1) Kebler and Ohio passes- located just outside Crested Butte. Crested Butte in the fall will talk your breath away if you time it right!  The aspen grove at Kebler was once considered the largest organism in the world. One giant aspen spans for miles and it tends to change color all at once there. It is a significant drive, but it’s a pilgrimage I try to make every year. If you drive up Kebler pass there is a turn off to Lost Lake about half way which is a beautiful place to fish or have lunch. Ohio pass is Kebler’s next door neighbor; if you make the trip for Kebler, take the extra hour or two to explore Ohio too.

Kebler PassKebler Pass

2) Cottonwood Pass- I believe Cottonwood pass is home to the 2nd largest Aspen grove in Colorado. The road is paved all the way to the summit of the pass and makes this a good drive for those who don’t want to drive too far into the hills.  Don’t forget to stop off at Cottonwood Lake – one of the favorite places for this photog to rest and take in the natural beauty.

3) The Highway of Legends scenic byway- Google it! There is a ton of stuff on this drive. It’s about 90 miles and 3 hours of your time, but a very nice road trip.  Make sure the kids’ electronics are fully charged before you go –or– that they have a better appreciation for the natural beauty around them than mine do!

4) Dallas Divide- This long drive is well worth the rewards at the end. You will pass Blue Mesa, Gunnison, and the Black Canyon. Look at your route options before you leave, at least one option will take you over Monarch Pass – a destination all its own. Once you reach Dallas Divide, the vibrant reds and yellows of fall take over the scrub in breath-taking vistas just off the highway.

Dallas DivideDallas Divide


These eight locations are certainly not a comprehensive list; each destination here is minivan/family friendly – no 4-wheel drive required. I intentionally left some hidden gems off my list. Part of the adventure is finding your own path and discovering the beauty of this state. I encourage you to go explore this fall and don’t forget to take your camera with you!


[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) kevskaptures photography tips Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:26:43 GMT
How many megapixels do I need? Kevs quick guide to megapixels!

How many megapixels do you need?

Someone told me they were super excited to get a 42 megapixel camera recently. They were super excited because these 42 megapixels were in a camera phone, WOW. It was sure to produce amazing images right?

Megapixels 101! A megapixel is a term used to describe quantity, not quality.  It’s a number that represents how many light collectors are on the camera’s sensor.  An 8 megapixel camera packs 8 million pixels into your photo. So more is better right? 16 megapixels would double our pixels and therefore be a better sensor in a camera! Well not so fast…

Let’s think about light as if it were rain, falling out of the sky. We want to catch as much of it as we can. If I have 8 million 1 gallon buckets on the ground they will catch the rain as it falls. I should get a lot of water with 8 million buckets! But my friend just got a 42 megapixel camera and he wants to go catch rain too! When he sets out to catch the rain he actually has 42 million shot glasses (he has a smaller area on the sensor to gather the light since it’s packed into the phone). My buckets from home depot are going to collect more light than his shot glasses, even though he has 42 million of them.

I have created an intense graphic to demonstrate this:


Image sensors come in different sizes, the larger the sensor the larger the pixels can be. Bigger pixels can collect more photons (rain in our example). A 42 megapixel smart phone packs those pixels on to a sensor no larger than the size of a penny.  One way to see the quality of a sensor to look at others reviews. Before you purchase a camera check out rating sites like this one:

This blog post is a very basic summary of megapixels and there is a lot more you can learn out on the web there. Remember that megapixel measures quantity, not quality, when you look at cameras. More megapixels is generally a good thing, but it also depends on the size and quality of your pixels. 


[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) ahrens do how i kevin many megapixel megapixels myths need pixels Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:07:12 GMT
Night Photography Workshop, Aug 22 8:30 PM In-Field Night Photography Workshop                                                                                    August 22, 2014 8:30-11:30 p.m.


As long as you know how to put your camera in Manual mode, this workshop will teach you everything else you need to know to start taking photographs at night.

Want to shoot star trails? Capture the Milky Way?  Take awesome landscape photographs in the dark?

This workshop will teach you all of that and more.

This Workshop will consist of three hours in the field, online post-processing support, learning, and fun.  Limited to the first ten paid registrants to ensure each individual receives the full benefit of the workshop.  Payment can be made via PayPal to [email protected] in the amount of $200 and must be paid prior to the workshop. 

Topics to be covered include:

¬  How to Plan your Night Shoot

¬  What Dark Sky is and Why is it Important

¬  How to Focus your Camera in the Dark

¬  Where the Milky Way will be during your Photos

¬  How to make Star Trails

¬  When Light-Painting is Needed and How to Do It

What you need to bring:


«  Tripod

«  A lens that can go to 2.8 or lower (preferred but bring what you have!)

«  Remote or shutter release

Recommended items:

«  Headlamp

«  Extra batteries

«  Layers of clothing (weather can be crazy in Colorado)

«  Food and drinks

KevsKaptures will require each participant to provide their own transportation within ~2 hours of Colorado Springs and to sign a waiver to limit the liability of the instructor.  The Workshop location will be messaged to each participant upon receipt of payment.  This trip may require walking, possibly even some hiking, on uneven terrain.  Wear sturdy, comfortable footwear.

If weather prohibits the workshop from occurring on Friday evening, it will be rescheduled for Saturday, August 23rd.

Because of the limited number of spaces in this workshop, once registration is complete, refunds will not be processed.  However, if the workshop must be canceled in its entirety, all registration fees shall be refunded.



[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) Fri, 04 Jul 2014 20:48:31 GMT
How to save 1000 bucks with a filter! 1 thing every lens needs. There are small things everyone should have when they buy a DSLR. A small reflector, perhaps a flash or a diffuser... and that list goes on and on. The list gets larger and larger the more time you spend in photography and some photographers buy gear until they are in debt up to their eyeballs. 

I wanted to share a quick story about how I saved a thousand bucks with a small, often overlooked item. Every lens you own should have a filter on it, if it can support one. A filter is a small piece of glass or plastic that screws onto the front of a lens. Some are tinted some are clear, there are hundreds of filters out there. Some filters allow you to take longer exposures, some allow you to take a varied exposure. Every lens you buy should have a filter... even if it's a cheap UV filter, which you can find for under $10. 

While shooting a wedding this week I had an 18-200mm lens that is worth about a thousand dollars strapped to my hip... I tend to zoom around at weddings, work you know? As I went around a corner I scraped the front of the lens across a rock wall :( snap! The rock chewed into the lens with a horrible grinding in my ears. The little UV filter saved my lens and took some serious damage from the wall. I screwed it off and continued to shoot the wedding without missing a beat. 

A UV filter doesn't really significantly affect how a DSLR captures images, although it used to have more impact in the days of film. You can use the filter and it is still going to give you a clean image on the camera sensor.  Some filters can produce lens flares that you may not like, so test a few of them out! 

Camera stores will always try to upgrade you to a nice filter when you buy a lens. The main benefit I have seen those retailers spin is protection of the front lens element. And I swear by this as well now. Don't always buy the lens upgrade(s) they may offer you but a small filter over your lens can be worth a thousand bucks. 





[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) Nikon UV filter photography Wed, 21 May 2014 00:48:20 GMT
Creepy Dunes? This week I went out the the Great Sand Dunes wilderness area to shoot some night photos. I went out Tuesday night which usually means I don't run into a soul while under dark sky. I ran into some strange stuff...

After I got to the dunes I parked and locked the car up. I walked in from the main parking lot towards high dune. It snowed throughout most of the front range and it was COLD at the park. The creek was frozen except for some of the stronger areas of flow. Ice was everywhere and it was windy but the skies were clear as far as I could see. I took photos of the creek and set one of my cameras up to take a star trail shot over the next 3 hours. I see two headlamps coming down the dunes and approaching the creek (it's like 1 AM).  I lit the creek up under the guise of helping them cross Medano easier but I did want to see what they were up to as well. Two guys crossed the creek and changed shoes by me and my camera gear. 

These 2 talked with me for about 5 minutes and since they didn't jump me I assumed they were all right! They told me they were paranormal researches from Lafyette, CO and they were looking into Native American beliefs around the dunes area. They said that the San Luis Valley was known for strange activity and they wanted to come out under a new moon to the park. They asked me the time and talked about it being late and getting back. I watched as their headlamps went off into the distance again and I was reasonably sure they had left the area. 

An hour passes and I am getting cold from wandering around Medano Creek in the middle of the night. I figure I should head back to my car and warm up for a bit before setting out again. As I head across the dunes and head back to my car, something trips my car alarm. Fred Focus' alarm blares through the valley. 2 quick things about my alarm: 1) My key fob sucks. I can hardly get in my car at times because the remote I keep in my pocket is almost dead. I have to walk up within a foot of my car for the remote or panic button to work. Sometimes my daughter Daria can't even get in my car when she has the remote. 2) I have a nice alarm in this car, it monitors multiple entries on the car and it rarely, if ever, trips on accident. If it's been tripped its usually because the car has been bumped or moved in some way.  I was about a football field away from the car. 

As I get nearer to the car, I come around a small group of trees and round the bend; I see the inside dome light turn off. Here's the thing, the dome light is not connected to the alarm system. It's a switch inside the vehicle, a manual tripped switch. The dome light does not activate when the alarm is tripped-it has to be turned on from inside the car. And it turned OFF as I approached the car. The car was still locked when I got to it, and the alarm system notified me with a special tone that it had been tripped. I walked a circle around the car and I was really cold at this point. There was a circle of liquid by one of the back tires, like someone had peed there. Remember when I said it was all ice crystally at the park? Everything but one area by the car was frozen. I couldn't see where this spot had come from in the middle of the night. I searched the area with a spotlight I had and saw nothing. I got into the car and warmed up, kinda creeped out but I figured it was just something strange with the cars electrical system. 

I set back out after about 30 minutes. I got back to a camera I had set up for trails and retrieved it. The Milky Way was up in the sky and I took photos for awhile. I kept hearing snaps, like sticks moving or breaking. I scanned with the spotlight across the tree line and dunes and didn't see anything. Maybe I am crazy. The car's alarm starts going off again, there's no wind, no sound and nobody around I can discern for at least a mile. I grab all my stuff and make a beeline towards my car. I felt like I needed to leave at this point. The hairs on my arms were standing up and I had that "being watched" feeling you sometimes get.  As I'm heading out I feel pushed out of the area, harried is what comes to mind. I came around the corner and the car's parking lights turn off (these are connected to the system so this could be electrical, I don't know). I get to the car and there's a second wet spot by the car, near the front of the car this time. All the other parts of the ground are still cold and frozen. 

I throw my things in the car after unlocking it and scan the area with the spot again; I can't find anyone or hear any animals around me. It's super quiet and still. I started the car, which started reluctantly (cold or drained I don't know), and zipped out of the area faster than I should have legally. 

My dad was a wilderness survival teacher and I am not unfamiliar with the wilderness at night. I have had a few unexplained things happen in my life, but this night I will not soon forget. A skeptic can say its the electrics on the car and matrixing of the mind--and I am okay with that. It could also be 2 guys with way too much free time on their hands at 3 am in the cold. I can't explain the feeling I had out there and I can't explain the dome light at the end of this story. I will be paying attention next time I visit the park. Below are some photos I took that night and the time lapse photo I mentioned earlier in this blog post. 








[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) creepy dunes exposure ghost kevskaptures long night photography sand story Thu, 01 May 2014 16:05:21 GMT
How to take great photos at the zoo Zoo photography is something we all can do, here are some tips to getting better photos on your trip!

1. Early bird gets the worm. Light gets harsher as the day goes on. Get to the zoo early or stay late at the zoo. If you have specific animals in mind that you are looking to photograph make a beeline there in the early light. Less people are likely to be in your way as well!

2. Dealing with fences and glass- Glass can be tough to shoot through. It’s often dirty and thick, causing glare. Take a small cloth with you to clean up finger prints in your intended photo.  This can help you clear some smudges out of your photo before post processing. When it comes to fences, GET CLOSER. You can often remove a fence entirely if you get very close to it and then focus on a distant animal.

3. Come back often and be patient- Don’t assume you will walk up to an animal’s enclosure and get THE photo on your first attempt. Visit the animals at different times of day. Feeding times can be fun but often attract more people who could block your shots. Choose your spot wisely!

4. Pick a good zoo. How is the zoo setup? Is it photographer friendly? Does the zoo even have the animals you are after in your photos? Some zoos are open and have large enclosures. My local zoo has a large wolf enclosure and I know that I will likely need da telephoto lens to see the wolves up close.

5. ISO is your friend at the zoo. Don’t be afraid to shoot at a higher ISO than you normally would. Animals move, I know… crazy. So having a slightly faster shutter and higher ISO can help you not miss a shot you have been waiting on.

6. Be aware of copyright!! Zoos often will not allow you to sell images that you shot there. Know the zoos policy on this if you intend to sell the images you take there.

7. Backgrounds are important. Your background is often as important as the animal you are trying to get a shot of. What’s behind the animal? What is in front of it? What parts do you want to include in your photo?

8. Don’t forget about people. You came to the zoo to see animals but people can add great elements to your compositions.

9. Turn off your camera’s flash. Having it on is likely going to end up causing bad reflections in your shots. Unless you are good with flash photography it is best to leave your flash off, but if you are able to use it correctly, you can add dramatic catch-lights into an animal’s eyes.

10. Just like people, focus on the eyes of the animals. The eyes are the windows into the soul, even on big hairy gorillas.







[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) ahrens kevin kevskaptures photography tips Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:13:33 GMT
Tips for Winter Photography Tips for Snow and Winter Photography

-Dress warmly. This is a no brainer tip, but it is vital. It’s hard to create great photos when you are shivering and miserable. Keep your head covered to minimize heat loss. Bundle yourself in layers of clothes that you can easily put on and take off as conditions change. Wear good boots to keep your feet dry (I buy mine a half size too big so that I can layer socks inside them). I wear fingerless gloves when I am actively shooting, but I bring heavier gloves to pull on during long exposures or hiking in and out of locations. Always insulate your extremities to avoid frostbite.  Know the warning signs of frostbite: redness, extremely cold skin, prickling, and numbness. If your shooting location is cold but your fingers and toes don’t feel chilly, you may be experiencing the first stages of frostbite.

-Cold camera, warm batteries.  Your camera’s body should be the same temperature as its surroundings. Allow your camera adequate time to adjust to changing temperatures. Moving rapidly from a warm environment (your home or car) to a frigid winter wonderland, your lens is likely to fog up. If you heat the camera quickly after it’s been in the cold for any length of time, water can condense inside your equipment. Gradual temperature changes are necessary for the longevity of your camera and lenses.  On the other hand, batteries hate the cold. Batteries drain more quickly in cold temperatures, so carry an extra in your interior pocket. This will keep it warm and allow you to shoot for longer periods.

-Footprints can be awesome – or devastating. Think about and plan your path. Once you have walked in an area, you are not getting those footprints back out of the snow :P  Sometimes you may want foot prints in the snow to make a line in your composition, but often photographers spend hours and hours searching out places with untouched, pristine snow. Plan your shot, then plan your path accordingly.

-Manual mode and exposure compensation. Snow blindness isn’t just for humans. Because of its reflective nature, snow does a pretty good job of fooling your cameras light metering. Without manual adjustment or exposure compensation, a snow photo may appear greyish rather than the beautiful white seen by the photog. To get the bright whites your eyes see, shoot in manual mode and adjust your exposure value (like I do) or utilize the in-camera Exposure Value (EV) settings. This mode allows the camera to over or under expose your shots; for snow a +1 EV is a good place to start.

-Bad weather is an opportunity. One of the keys to great photography is capturing unique images; one-of-a-kind photos that other people did not get the chance to shoot. Bad weather presents a great opportunity to find these images. When storms roll in or out the light can change quickly, often great light. Embrace the changing weather as a chance to get a great shot or two.

-Choose your target. The additional light from snow can lead to great exposure for wildlife. A bright colorful bird can really pop against the white background.  Also keep an eye out for the small details that winter provides. Snowflakes and icicles make great patterns. Macro photography in the winter can be a whole new world for you! Puddles of melting snow can also lend themselves to great reflection shots.

-High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging. Winter scenes often have a high dynamic range in the light. HDR photography can help you capture all the different light in a scene. HDR also tends to create vibrant colors; use that to your advantage in winter photography. Look for bright colors and strong contrasts around you and intentionally add those to your composition.

-Use a polarizer. Sunglasses for your camera, polarizers help reduce glare in your images and create deeper colors. Deep blue skies and bright whites make for some gorgeous pictures.

-Portray the cold. How cold is it? Show it in the photo. Add people to a winter photo to add color and impact or give a sense of scale to the big snow field or snow-covered mountain range. Look for and compose around the long shadows that you often see in winter to help add to the feeling of cold.  Use cold colors when post processing to enhance the feeling of cold. Make people feel what you endured to get the perfect picture.







[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) ahrens improve kevin kevskaptures photo photography photos tips winter Sun, 09 Mar 2014 02:51:18 GMT
10 things you should know before you hire a photographer

1) Do they have insurance? This can be a deal breaker. What happens if you trip over the guy’s camera and it smashes to the ground? What if grandma falls down the steps while posing? Have a plan for the worst case scenario.

2) Do you like his/her work? This sounds like a really silly thing you should know, but many people just look at the pricing in photography. Don’t compare two photographers by their pricing, compare them by their photos. Do you like the photos? Remember that photographers often put only their best work on their website and you may want to ask to see more photos or a full album.

3) How many events like yours do they shoot a year? If it’s a large event, like a wedding, you may want to know how much wedding experience your photographer has. If you hire an amateur that is fine, just take it into consideration. If their portfolio only shows one couple you may want to ask about it; find out if that’s the only couple they’ve shot. Everyone starts somewhere and you may be okay with that… you may not be.

4) It’s not about a nice camera! “My cousin is going to do our wedding photos for free, she just got a really nice camera!” A camera is a tool just like an oven is a tool for a professional cook; if you’re not Gordon Ramsay, the food just isn’t going to taste as good. The talent lays in the person’s eye and skill level, not their camera. Will your cousin get that one moment you really wanted? Maybe. Will she capture that kiss that was backlit and most of the guests missed with their cell phones? Maybe. Professional photographers are consistent and will get you a larger number of quality images from your event than your cousin will.

5) This one could be the most important of all. Do you like your photographer? Do you have some rapport? If not, you won’t have as much fun. That will reflect in your photos. Find a photographer you like and can get along with. If they creep you out or annoy you, why hire them? This is super important for weddings since you are going to spend practically the whole day with your photographer.

6) Have an idea of how large your budget is and what you get for that budget. Know how much you can spend and if the photographer can get the images you want in the time you are willing to pay for. Haggling with a photographer may not get you the results you want.

7) What’s in the package? Photographers love to bundle things. And they make all kinds of fantastic names for them! The brides package, the bridesmaids package, the flower girl etc. etc. Make sure you understand what you are getting. If you are not sure, ask.

8) Can you get in writing? Will they sign a contract? A contract protects both you and the photographer – this is a must have for larger events. An itemized contract spelling out the expectations of both parties ensures everyone knows what to expect.  You may not need a contract if you are meeting someone at the park for an hour photo shoot, but the more money and time you both invest into the photos, the better it is to have a contract.

9) Do they have backup equipment? If there is a problem with the photographer’s gear can they still get your photos? Do they have backup cameras, lenses and batteries? This may not seem like an important thing to ask, it is… see #1 above.

10) Two photographers are better than one – if the photography company you have chosen has the option for two photographers to show up, you should seriously consider taking advantage of it.  It is less stressful for you and for the photographers when two of them are there. You will have more variety in the photos you receive and you will have a greater chance of getting “the shot”.


[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) ahrens improve kevin kevskaptures photography tips Mon, 17 Feb 2014 02:41:51 GMT
6 Ways to Look Better in a Photo 6 Simple ways to look better in a photo

1) Lean in- The closer a body part is in the photo the larger it will be (I know, this is crazy). The further a body part is the smaller it looks in the photo. Put your head “into” the photo. I will often teach my clients how to “Chicken Neck”. Stick your chin out towards the camera a bit, this will also help with double chins.

2) Be Bendy- If you are stiff and rigid you are going to look stiff in your photo. Relax, forget about the photographer if at all possible and let them do their work. If you are rigid and nervous a great work around is some music. Dance and play, the photos will come out better. Bend your elbows and/or knees a bit.  With small children have them “shake” it out. Shake and wiggle and yell and laugh, then snap some photos.

3) Stand in an L - Make your feet into the shape of an “L”. Place your weight on your back foot, you should be able to comfortably lift your front foot off the ground. This will create a natural curve to your body and most times make you look better in a photo.

4) Turn your head, turn your body- most photos look better if you are not facing the camera straight on. Turn to a bit of an angle from the camera. Facing straight at a camera is a good way to get an average shot of yourself. Turn your shoulders some, remember to be bendy! If you have large ears turning to a ¾ shot can make you look more photogenic.

5) The eyes are the windows to the soul- Close and open your eyes often, don’t stare at a camera and get tired. Look at the camera and then look someplace else. Look to the side, or down. You will get a wider variation in your photos.

I am sure you have seen photos where people’s eyes sparkle a bit. This is called a catch light (or you can digitally recreate this). To do this naturally you want your eye to be taking in some light. Looking at a light source can accomplish this. If you stand in a dark area and look into a brighter one you can also catch some sparkle in your eyes.

6) It is okay to move when working with a photographer- most photographers would rather you move around, joke around and smile in a real way. Have fun, you are not a mannequin. 




[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) Mon, 03 Feb 2014 03:01:37 GMT
50 Amazing Years I was fortunate enough to be asked to shoot photos for the Brook's 50th wedding anniversary this month. Sometimes you attend an event as a photographer that touches you right in your heart and this was one of them! When I got there I really didn't know what to expect... I had been asked to come photograph "a party" but I ended up photographing a very memorable event in the lives of the whole family.

The happy couple were presented a trip to Hawaii from their children, and people started crying. It was so powerful to look around the room and see the different generations, all gathered around this couple that formed the core spiritually and morally. I could see the values and the love of family and God so clearly that these two had passed on to their children and grandchildren.

I can only hope to attend my 50th wedding anniversary with my wife and our grandchildren. I am looking forward to it...

Time flies when you are having fun:





[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) Mon, 27 Jan 2014 21:23:45 GMT
Where do I focus my photo? Where Do I Focus My Landscape photo?

A new photographer will often wonder what the best focus point is for his or her image. If you search the web you will find that focus is determined by what’s referred to as hyperfocal distance. This is a giant equation and often intimidates new photographers. It goes like this:

 H =(L2)/ (F x D)


 H = Hyperfocal distance (in millimeters)

 L = Lens focal length (i.e., 35mm, 100mm)

 F = Lens aperture f-stop

 D = Diameter of circle of least confusion (in millimeters)

Wow! Why do I care about this? How do I figure that out when I’m trying to take a photo as the sun is going down?  What this equation says is that you should remember the rule of thirds: 1/3rd of the focal plane is in front of your focus point and 2/3rds of the focal plane falls behind your focal point.

So let’s look at a few photos. Green is a good focal point, red is not!


The photo above is of Brainard Lake. The focus is on the mountains in this photo. You can see the grass is a bit blurry. It’s not a bad shot but it’s not as sharp as it could have been had I used the landscape rule of thirds. Here is a photo showing this rule in portrait oriented photos as well:


My focus point was the closest headstone. Since this marker is 1/3 of the depth of the photo, the leaves in front of the stone are sharp and the trees in the background sharp as well. One last photo to consider:

This image, shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, has its focal point on the boulder in front, not the mountains in the background.

If you made it this far I encourage you to learn more about hyper focal distance and how it changes the look to your shot. A good f-stop to start practicing with is F /16. This should get most of your photo in focus if you remember that big fat equation up there: Focus goes 1/3 forward and 2/3 back.

If you are a cell phone ‘tog, there are some great applications on android and iphone that help teach you hyper focal distance as well.

Use this rule of thirds in focusing as a great place to start improving your photos!

[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) I Where ahrens distance do focus hyperfocal kevin kevskaptures my of photo? photography rule thirds tips Thu, 14 Nov 2013 00:57:30 GMT
6 Tips to Tack Sharp Photos 6 Tips For Tack Sharp Photos



1) Increase your ISO. ISO 100 does give you nice clean images but if your shutter speed can’t keep up with the movement in your photo it won’t get you a sharp shot. Bump the ISO up to a comfortable, usable level for your DSLR. This will allow you a higher shutter speed and a sharper image.  The lower your ISO the better your images will look but you want to sacrifice ISO in favor of a fast enough shutter speed.

2) Love on the shutter button. Camera shake is an issue when you want to create a sharp image. Squeeze gently on the shutter button and press it down calmly. Don’t mash the shutter button! It’s even better if you can trigger your camera remotely.

3) Shoot on a Tripod, if you don’t have a tripod use a makeshift one. Balance the camera on a fence post,a sturdy rock etc. Tripods are inexpensive and one should be in your car at all times.

4) Find your lenses “sweet spot”. Lenses have different sharpness at different apertures. Experiment with the lens you are using to see what aperture settings are the sharpest. This is generally around f8 but it varies. 

5) Make sure you are shooting fast enough. Shutter speed is a giant factor in a sharp image. Shooting sporting events can help you to learn this quickly. If you want to freeze a golfer mid swing you need a very quick shutter. A rule of thumb some photographers use is your minimum shutter speed should be equivalent to the focal length of your shot. If you are zoomed in at 200mm the slowest you should be shooting is 1/200 of a second. If the shot is at 100mm you should be at a minimum of 1/100 of a second. I would recommend you go higher if sharpness is important in your photo. The golfer mid swing you need to shoot over 1/2500 of a second to really lock him or her in place sharply. 

6) The quality of your lens will directly affect the sharpness of your shot. You get what you pay for when it comes to lenses in most cases. Often prime lenses (fixed focal length lenses) are sharper than large zoom lenses. Having said that there are some very sharp zoom lenses out in the market these days. I love my Nikkor 18-200 VR lens as an everyday walk around lens. Kit lenses can take sharp images but you are better off replacing your kit lens with some nice glass. Many people buy a DSLR for thousands of dollars and then don’t spend money on some nice lenses. The quality of your lens can have more impact on your overall image quality than the camera body and the sensor inside.



[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) ahrens fall improve kevin kevskaptures photography tips Thu, 31 Oct 2013 01:54:23 GMT
20 Tips That Will Improve Your Photography

20 Tips That WILL Improve Your Photography


1) Shoot in RAW, some people insist on shooting JPG because they get the image “right” in camera. RAW shooters don’t intend on exposing an image incorrectly so they can fix it later, we shoot just like a JPG shooter for the most part. Having the RAW file gives you so much more creative control in your workflow. It also allows you a shot of saving a picture that you didn’t hit the exposure dead on in. It takes more work to shoot this way but the results I feel are better.

2) It doesn’t matter what people think about your pictures. Don’t shoot pictures for others opinions and feedback. Go shoot what you want. 

3) Print your work out in a large format. Holding one of your favorite pictures in your hands or framing it on your wall is a GREAT feeling. It makes your work real and tangible. The first time I saw a photo I took hanging in someone’s house was such a rewarding moment for me.

4) Don’t buy twice. If you pursue photography you will see that almost every piece of gear is 4 times the cost it should be. Because its photography!!! Don’t buy the cheap tripod, it will break. Don’t buy the cheap glass if you can afford the good glass. Someday the extra aperture on that lens will come in handy. And some day you will see the difference in your cheap lens and your expensive prime lens.

5) Don’t worry about finding your style. It will find you.

6) Go outside your comfort zone. Shooting the same stuff is boring… and while you may become a landscape photographer by shooting landscapes every day you will not learn nearly as fast as the person who shoots various subject matter. Shoot photos of people, cars, cats, bugs, water, shadows, try an HDR, still life, ninjas…. You get my drift. PS ninjas are very had to capture and will often make an attempt at your life when they see you have properly exposed the photo of their favorite hiding place.

7) No amount of digital darkroom (Photoshop, elements, light room) can take a crappy image and turn it into gold for you. There are some graphic artists out there who break this “rule” but you can’t polish a turd as the saying goes. That being said I do Photoshop my work and I do use techniques that I feel help the look of my image, or at least the look I am going for. If you are a shooter who is pure in camera shooting you are missing out on a wealth of options the age of digital photography has brought. 

8) There are about 10 photogs who are jerks to every 1 that is willing to teach you. Some photographers will see you as a threat and treat you as such. You can’t blame them. Why would they want to teach you something that could potentially take food off of their plate? When you find those great photographers that are willing to teach you be respectful and realize the gift they are giving you. Pay it forward… teach others what you learned when you can.

 9) Take your camera with you. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have missed a beautiful moment because my camera was at home. I know it’s not always possible to take your camera everywhere you go, but you should try if you want to better your photography. I read that if your spouse is not a bit jealous of your camera at times then you are not a true photographer. My wife can attest to this…. One date night I was musing about the sunset and how it looked that night and that I missed my camera!!! 

 10) Put your toys away. The sound of your gear hitting the floor is a horrible, gut wrenching sound. When you are done shooting put the camera someplace safe. Don’t leave equipment sitting out on your flash stand. Fold up your umbrella or whatever else you were using and hide that stuff!

 11) A camera does not make a photographer. While upgrading your gear will get you better photos, it starts with you. Think more about the composition of a photo then how you will shoot it, especially when you start in photography. The technical side will come to you in time. One of my best friends takes all his photos on an I phone and some of his shots are amazing. On this same note, something that drives photogs crazy: “wow that is a nice camera, it must take nice pictures” ARRRRG…no it doesn’t, I do. Ask my wife how some of her photos look with my camera gear if you don’t believe this one.

 12) The sooner you learn about ISO the better off you will be. ISO is the equivalent of film speed back in the day. If you are shooting too slowly your images will be soft and fuzzy. It’s better to hit the focus and the shutter speed than to have a blob of a photo. You can often fix grain in Photoshop later if you choose to… but the grain can actually add to some photos.

 13) Back up your photos. Keep them in multiple places. You will probably need more hard drive space if you shoot digital… buy an external hard drive. You may want to spend that money on something else, but don’t.

 14) Learn to shoot with your camera without looking at its settings. Shoot in manual mode and do it until you can see the settings in your head before you put them in to the camera. Be able to shoot your camera in almost pitch black…. If you don’t think shooting your camera in the dark will come in handy wait until someone asks you to photograph a wedding with candles or an Easter vigil. 

15) Learn the AF modes of your camera. Learn when to use single point focus or multiple points. Learn how to focus a shot and then recompose it how you want before you take the shot.

 16) Off camera lighting- One of the best ways to make your photography better is to learn about off camera lighting. Moving the light to a different angle can drastically change how your pictures look. On camera flashes are ugly and make for a boring photo.

17) Steal things. This one may be a bit controversial but I cannot tell ya how much I have learned by emulating someone else’s shot. If I saw a picture that I liked and wondered how it was shot I attempted to do it on my own. Dont steal the shot, steal the idea and teach yourself how to do it better. Do it in a different way. If you see a photo that makes you think "How did he or she take that shot?" go try the shot!

18) Learn how to light paint. Even if you suck at it…it’s a lot of fun

 19) Learn how to see light. When I started with a camera I saw the scene and the picture only. Photography sometimes is less about the scene than the light in front of you. One of the fastest ways to learn this is to shoot photos at night. Nothing will teach you about the available light faster than shooting stuff at night. You will learn to see light differently

20) Do some street photography. You will meet some interesting people. You will learn how to change your camera settings quickly. You will meet some crazies. Take a walkabout downtown with your camera and shoot the people around you..


[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) ahrens improve kevin kevskaptures photography tips Thu, 31 Oct 2013 01:41:43 GMT
10 Fall Photography Tips

10 Fall Photography Tips

1) Timing is everything. Pay attention in the fall to other peoples photos and posts to find when and where the leaves are at their peak. You may want to scout out locations a few weeks before they are in their prime.  Time of day matters as well. You have the best chance at great light in the golden hour (just after sunrise and just before sunset). 

2) Backlight- leaves pick up light as it filters through. It’s almost cliché to put the sun behind the leaves you are shooting…the reason is that it works. Yellows and reds will really pop in your shot if they are backlit by the sun.

3) Use a polarizing filter- this can help remove glare and get deep blue skies in your images.

4) Look for complimentary colors. A lot of plain blue sky works very well with the yellows of the aspens.  Look for color in all of your composition.  Subtle changes in color across your image can make for more interest. Deep reds with a deep azure sky can be a thing of beauty.

5) Look for reflections. Find a lake, a puddle, whatever. Fall is a great time to be aware of reflections around you and use them to your advantage. A windless day will really help you to achieve this; ND filters can be handy to slow down your exposures and calm the waters when necessary.

 6) Don’t be afraid to shoot leaves on windy days. You can intentionally slow your shutter speed to make a more painterly look and add movement to your photo. ND filters can really help here. 

7) Gather some leaves- If you fill up a small bag or a hat with some leaves you can use them later. This is on old trick…but a good one. If you find a nice rock or a nice road you can toss your leaves down on the ground to create a different look to your photo.  You can create your own foreground out of just red leaves you collected, or yellow or green… you get the idea. Don’t go overboard though or your transported leaves will look fake and horrible! 

8) Bokeh- if you have fast lenses, fall is a great time for amazing blurred images (bokeh). This applies not only to landscapes but portraits as well. You can create a mosaic of color in your photos and have only small details of leaves or rocks (etc.) in your focus. Low apertures give you a great amount of creativity when shooting leaves up close and personal.

9) Move around. Don’t shoot the same photo 3 times to make sure you “got it”. Shoot some photos and move. Change your location, change your angle. Shoot low to the ground, shoot high up over some aspens. Shoot wide panoramas, shoot close in macros. Shoot and move, shoot and move. You will come home with a lot better variety of photos.

10) Use leading lines. Roads make great lines in a photo and you will see a lot of fall photos composed using a road… because it works! Secluded back roads covered in leaves make for some amazing photo opportunities. Speaking of roads, don’t be afraid to take the back ones in the fall, you never know what you might find.



[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) fall photography Thu, 31 Oct 2013 01:21:01 GMT
10 Smartphone Photography Tips

10 Smart Phone Photography tips

1) Don’t use the zoom on the phone (unless it’s one of the rare OPTICAL zooms on a phone). You will get better pictures if you don’t zoom and you later crop your photo instead. A digital zoom is not a true zoom and will make your pixels look worse than if you crop. The more you zoom in on a cell phone the worse your photo is likely to get in terms of its quality.

2) It’s all about the light. Remember that photography is more about light than what camera you have with you. If you find amazing light you will get a great photo. Remember to shoot in the shade if it’s harsh light outside. Try to shoot in
golden hour or in conditions where the light is warm and soft feeling.  Avoid harsh contrasts of light and dark areas as the phones sensor is not as powerful as some bigger cameras.

3) Think about your phone's post processing power as you take photos. Know your limits on your filters and apps. If you have a great sepia app on the phone you may want to take photos having that in mind. Some applications will let you adjust the colors and curves in your photos, learn how to use those tools! Make sure you learn how to use the curves tool with a cell phone. Lastly a good filter doesn’t make a bad picture any better.

4) Clean your lens! Sometimes camera phones get dirty as heck in your pocket. Or lint gets stuck to it. Or that pen that blew up in your pocket left its mark… If you are serious about phone photography clean your lens just like you would on a DSLR or more expensive camera.

5) Compose the horizon correctly. People shooting on camera phones don’t always notice if the photo is level as they hold it in 2 hands in front of them, at the same angle they are standing at. Most camera applications have an overlay of lines
that you can use to compose the shot better. Don’t just snap a shot! Think about the shot on the screen, then snap.

6) If you have a phone that can keep the camera application open in the background, do so. Make your camera on the phone easy to access. Make a shortcut on your screens to the camera. This will minimize you missing photos.

 7) Get close to stuff! Some cell phones have amazing macro modes on them. With most cell phones you are more likely to get a good shot the closer you are to the subject. Take advantage of that and use it. A lot of phones have extra macro lenses you can purchase for them separately.

8) Stop with the flash. Most flashes on cell phones suck. They will not match the light in the rest or your photo the majority of the time. If you need to use the flash you may want to consider what the light is like around you and pick a better lit area.

9) Know how fast your camera “clicks”. Some phones have a noticeable delay between the sound of the click and the time the photo is actually taken.  Press softly when you take the photo, be mindful you don’t move the phone as you click the button.

 10) Apps! Apps! More apps! One of the best things about shooting on a smart phone is how many options are available for editing. There are thousands of photo applications that will let you tweak your photo in a lot of fun ways. Zombie cams, swap head cams, ghost cams! You get the idea. Have fun!


[email protected] (Kev's Kaptures) photography Thu, 31 Oct 2013 01:11:47 GMT