So You Want to Become a Travel Photographer?

While we live in a day and age where camera gear is more affordable than ever, photo editing applications are much more accessible and social media platforms have connected each of us with more and more people from around the globe, many photographers still struggle with the idea of working professionally as a photographer. When it comes to travel photography specifically, things are even more complicated. While travel photographers have to learn the craft of photography just as a wedding or stock photographer, they also have to balance the notion of the cost of travel as well. After-all, it can be expensive to fly to India or Mongolia. While alot of people travel and take photos, very few of us get paid to live this lifestyle.

Working in the Canadian Rockies on a film project for Travel Alberta

Working in the Canadian Rockies on a film project for Travel Alberta

So where do you start? What path should you take? When I started my first photography company back in 2006 I too asked these questions. However instead of finding a resource to help guide me along the process, I ended up taking the long way up the hill. It was a few years before I first had my images published. Even longer before I started making any real money as a photographer. This is why I decided to partner with Matador Network and MatadorU and help them build something special. To train, support and prepare the next generation of travel photographers. So what is MatadorU? Lets dive in to find out…

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An In-Depth Review of the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 OSS Wide Angle Lens

While Sony has continued to take the photo industry by storm with their a7 series of full frame mirror-less cameras, many of us have been eagerly awaiting the FE lens mount lineup to grow. At the top of that list was one of the only holes in Sony’s mostly incredibly impressive lens options for their a7 cameras…namely a native wide angle lens option. Like many Sony converts, I wanted a wide angle lens that was not only light weight and portable, but that didn’t sacrifice in build quality, functionality or image quality. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long. On September 15, 2014, the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 OSS (SEL1635Z) wide angle lens was announced. Needless to say I was excited. Having made the switch to Sony from Canon earlier this year, I had been using the Sony 16-35 f/2.8 ZA lens that while impressive, was pretty bulky and heavy.

Sunset with Sony a7r and 16-35 f4 fe lens

Sony a7r with the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 OSS wide angle lens in Hawaii

As it turns out, being sponsored by Sony has its perks as I was given a pre-production model to use throughout my time on The Big Island of Hawaii over the last few weeks as well as here in Colorado before the lens is official released at the middle of November of 2014. On the lens itself resides the number 00011, effectively noting that I got to use the 11th version ever made. While Sony never asked for me to write this review, my goal was to put the lens to the test in a variety of environments and share my experiences. To make things more interesting, I wrote a First Look blog post that gave many of my followers the chance to ask questions that I would try to get to in this in-depth review. I tried to answer every ones questions here in this review, but if I missed something, please let me know in the comments.

Pre-production model of the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 OSS lens

Pre-production model of the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 OSS lens

Now that all that is out of the way, how did the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 do? Lets find out!
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Sony Announces New Professional Services Program to Rival CPS and NPS

Sony-a6000-Weather-Sealed-TestingAs a professional photographer that spends much of his time on the road working in extreme environments, I have found the use of a Professional Services Program to be integral to my various photography businesses over the years. As a Canon shooter previously, there were many times when I had to take advantage of CPS (Canon Professional Services) to help me fix a broken lens, expedite my shipping and turn around a repair in short order (within a few business days) because I was leaving for another project or marketing campaign.

When I became a Sony Ambassador and solely began using Sony camera gear earlier this year, this was one point of contention that I had with my choice. However after multiple conversations with Sony Product Managers, my worry was gone as I knew this day was coming. Today Sony announced their Pro Support services program. Lets talk a bit about what that means…

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First Look: Sony FE 16-35 f/4 ZA OSS Lens

*UPDATE – The full in-depth review of the Sony FE 16-35 f/4 is now live. LINK

Over the last two years Sony Imaging has continued to push the boundaries of the photo industry. Between the dynamic range found in the a7r (In Depth Review) to the incredible low light performance of the a7s, there is a lot of reasons to love what Sony has been up to. However regardless how impressive Sony’s new cameras are, the native lens line for the FE camera mount has had relatively slow growth. While nearly ever one of the FE lenses available today are very impressive, the glaring hole in the lens lineup has been in the wide angle department, until now.

Sony-a7r-with-16-35-f4-fe-lens

Sony a7r w/ Sony FE 16-35 f/4 ZA OSS lens

On September 15th, 2014 Sony finally unveiled the Sony fe 16-35 f/4 ZA OSS lens, which has easily become the most sought after lens for the a7 series cameras (a7,a7r, a7s). Having partnered with Sony over a year ago, they were kind enough to give me early access to the lens while working on a project on The Big Island of Hawaii, where I am currently writing this blog post from. For the next 10 days, I will be pushing this lens to its limits in a variety of situations to see what it is capable of, but I need your help. In the comments below, leave what ever questions you have about the lens and I will make sure to cover as many of them as I can when I release my full in-depth review in the first week of November here on the blog.

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A Photographers Guide to Visiting Yosemite

There are few places in the world that are as beautiful and inspiring as Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. When it comes to iconic locations that define a country such as the United States, it is hard not think of images of Half Dome or Yosemite Falls, both of which have been made famous over the years by photographers such as Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell that each helped define photography for their respective generations.

The iconic Upper Yosemite Falls with early morning light

The iconic Upper Yosemite Falls with early morning light. Shot with a Sony a7r

While many people know that I grew up in the Bay Area, few actually know of my historic ties to Yosemite. My great great grandfather was a man named William E. Colby and he was one of the original members of the Sierra Club with John Muir. Together, they worked hard to help protect Yosemite in the early 1900’s and when Muir passed away in 1914, William became the director of the Sierra Club, staying in the position for nearly 49 years before retiring. I feel this is part of the reason why Yosemite has always felt like home.

In April of this year (2014), I worked on a project for the #DreamBig initiative with Visit California and Yosemite National Park. One of the many things that came out of the project was the video that you see below. Enjoy!


Between my love of the park itself and my family’s history Yosemite, I have a clear understanding of why so many photographers have it listed as a “bucket list” location. Because of this, I decided to put together this comprehensive guide to visiting Yosemite, from a photographers perspective. I cover a lot of topics; from information on which airports to fly into, to my favorite spots to photograph, to my favorite times of year to visit. There are plenty of amazing things to see in Yosemite National Park (which is open year round).

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An In-Depth Review of the Sony a7r

There is no doubt that Sony has the photo industry talking lately. While you can certainly purchase a very capable Canon, Nikon or Fuji camera, it is Sony that seems to be the most innovative these days, both in sensor and lens technology. So when Sony announced the a7 & a7r last year, I (like my of my colleagues) was intrigued, one could even say excited, with the notion of an affordable light weight, full frame mirror-less camera. Especially one that housed some of the same sensor technology that went into the popular Nikon D800e. But with this being 1st generation technology from Sony, was it truly going to live up to its hype? Is the Sony a7r truly a game changing camera? I had to find out.

A7r-River-Icelanda
After making a few phone calls and talking to the right people at Sony, they agreed to send me an a7r (and a handful of lenses) to put to the test. As a landscape, travel and humanitarian photographer, I am often working in fairly extreme environments and the projects I had lined up over the last half year certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard. From Iceland to the Canadian Rockies to Hawaii and even Australia, I pushed this camera to its limits…and then some. I even managed to break two ribs while bringing it with me while ice climbing in Iceland this past winter. Have you ever wanted to know just how cold a camera can get and still perform? What about test your camera to see if it is actually weather sealed by using it in a rain storm? Humidity? Snow? Heat? Dust? Done…Done and Done! So how did she hold up overall? Will the a7r become a permanent pillar of my gear setup? Lets find out! Read More…


Adobe Adds Multiple New Features to Photoshop CC (June 2014)

Photoshop CC Start Up LogoWhen Adobe first moved to the subscription model, many photographers were up in arms about the new pricing structure. Among the complaints was the mindset that Adobe was just going to take our money and not provide any real benefits to the end user, even if this was against everything Adobe was saying. Part of the reason for the change from a product you could purchase outright in a store or a pure digital subscription model was the idea that the consistent forms of revenue for Adobe would free up its resources to be able to provide more timely updates to its software programs as well as add new features in a much faster capacity then the standard 1 to 2 year wait periods between significant software versions (such as CS4 to CS5 for example). Today it looks like Adobe is following through on that promise as they have announced a slew of new updates to Photoshop CC (also know as the Creative Cloud).

Starting today, the Photoshop Photography Program that allows you to pay only $10/month (with a one year contract) for Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Lightroom Mobile, access to Creative Cloud Learn, and ongoing updates and upgrades has been made permanent. You also won’t need a previous license, it’s available for everyone!

Below you can find a number of YouTube videos that showcase many of the new features and show you what they can do. If you have new features that you would like to see in Photoshop in the future, leave them in the comments below. Enjoy!

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Spring 2014 Photography Contest/Giveaway

Toshiba Kirabook with one of my Gecko images from Hawaii

Spring is here and it is a time for rebirth and new beginnings. As a photographer this can have several important meanings from a simple shift in the seasons to a change in our mindset of what is to come for us in the coming year. To me it stands for the rebirth of mother nature. Between the wild flowers blooming to the increased flow of waterfalls around the world to specific animals awaking from hibernation…it is one of my favorite times of the year.

This is why I am incredibly excited to announce my 2014 Spring Photography Contest. In an on going process to leverage the connections I have with the various companies I work with to benefit you, I have partnered with Toshiba, X-Rite and Formatt Hitech to give away over $2000 worth of prizes for my next contest/giveaway hosted here at Colby Brown Photography. Read More…


The Wonder of Australia

Colby-in-Oz

When it comes to bucket list locations around the world, I often hear other photographers mention Australia….the Land Down Under. Having explored the 6th largest country multiple times over the years I certainly understand why it is so sought after. Like Canada, much of the interior is full of vast empty spaces known as the “Outback” with the majority of the population of Australia living along the gorgeous coast line. While this generally means that travel times between locations in Oz can take a while, the country as a whole offers an incredibly diverse amount of photographic opportunities.

On my last trip to the region in March/April of 2013, I was working on a variety of projects for the Australian Government and the Australian Tourism Board that included a world record breaking photo walk (seen on the left). The photography communities in Australia are incredibly passionate with amazing people that are eager to get out shooting. The photo walk in Sydney had 392 photographers join me as we made our way from Bronte to Bondi Beach to hangout out and capture the beauty of the coast line along the way.

Overall my trip to Oz last year took me from Sydney to Tasmania to the Great Ocean Road and even over to Perth the natural wonder that is Karijini National Park located in the heart of the Outback in the northern region of Western Australia. As I prepare to return to Australia next month to teach two photography workshops (in Sydney & Perth) and work on a new marketing campaign with the ATB (Australian Tourism Board), I am enjoying looking back at my work from such a beautiful country.
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Mini Review: Updated 2014 Toshiba 13″ Kirabook

toshiba-kirabook-screenIn August of 2013, I wrote a in-depth review of the new 13″ Toshiba Kirabook laptop that was one of the better Windows travel laptops at the time. However while it was lightweight, portable and contained a gorgeous 2560×1440 screen, it wasn’t perfect. Battery life was ok but not great, Windows 8 didn’t support high resolution very well and Intel had just pushed out its Haswell processor that offered much better battery life and stronger CPU performance which left the Kirabook feeling a touch out of date on the day of its launch. Fast forward to April of 2014 and Toshiba has finally released an update to the Kirabook line.

Does the new Kirabook fix last years model’s issues? Does Windows 8.1 make much of a difference? Is it enough of an update in features to warrant a upgrade if you bought last years model? Read my mini review below to find out if it is still in my gear bag…
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