Gear Review: A Photographer’s Take on the HTC One


As technology has increased over the years, the devices that we carry with us have gotten smaller and more powerful. In situations where we might of once reached for our trusty point and shoot cameras, we are now reaching for our smart phones and tablets instead to capture the world around us. The Apple iPhone was one of the first major devices on the scene in this regard and justifiably so, has been a staple of mobile photography ever since. However, Android devices have come along way since their introduction to the market in 2008 with the HTC Dream (otherwise known as the T-Mobile G1).

Each year it seems that Android mobile devices are getting better and better while also offering customers choice, which certainly helps to explain their massive market share dominance (over 70% of all smart phones worldwide run Google’s mobile OS). When it comes to mobile photography, Android devices manufactures are constantly trying to innovate and out do each other (and the iPhone). This has lead to improved optics, image quality, low light performance and in some cases, resolution as well.

So where does the HTC One fit into all of this? What exactly is the UltraPixel camera sensor they use? Who is Zoe? and yes…does this phone actually take good photos? Lets find out…

Droid Figurine Read More…

An Adventure Through Tanzania with an IQ260 from Phase One

Phase One Logo

As many of you know, I enjoy the business side of photography almost as much as the creative hands on time I get with my cameras year after year in some of the most amazing locations on this planet. Through this combined love of what makes photography special and unique to me, I have found myself working hard over the last 8 years to make in-roads and find collaborative points of interest and synergy between the work I do and the companies I admire and respect throughout the photo industry. It is for these reasons that I wasn’t surprised to hold a key meeting with the head Marketing Director of Phase One back in May to discuss the idea of working together on a number of projects.

While I initially got into photography because of my love of travel and soon found myself enthralled by the solitude of nature and landscape photography, it has been my humanitarian work as a photographer that has truly helped me separate my name and brands from others in what many would consider a crowded photo industry. In 2010 I founded my first humanitarian focused photography company, The Giving Lens. The idea is simple, to blend photo education and support for sustainable development initiatives (NGOs) in developing countries. We take teams of photographers from all over the world to unique destinations with the idea of both furthering their photographic skill sets while also helping to fight for various important causes, such as clean; drinking water projects, child education, women’s rights, species preservation and more. When I met with Phase One back in May, both of us had TGL (The Giving Lens) in mind. Before I knew it, I was off to east Africa with Phase One’s brand new 60mp IQ260 to spend a month documenting various projects around Tanzania (with the NGO Art in Tanzania) as well as work with the famous nomadic warrior tribe known as the Maasai.

How did the IQ260 handle the challenges of working in remote parts of east Africa? Lets find out…

When in doubt, let the Maasai Chief of the village you are staying in use your Phase One to make sure it is working correctly ;)

When in doubt, let the Maasai Chief of the village you are staying in use your Phase One to make sure it is working correctly ;)

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Photographer AMA (Ask Me Anything) – A Focus on Social Media

Ask me AnythingAs many of you already know, I have been running multiple Photography AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions on Facebook and Google+ over the last few months. These incredibly popular posts were opportunities for photographers from all over the globe to have direct access to me in order to get answers for any questions they might have that pertain to photography, the business of photography or travel. While I enjoyed having the opportunity to answer up to 200 questions in a single question, I found that many questions required more in-depth responses. It is for this reason that I am stoked to introduce my brand new blog series titled “Photographer AMA (Ask Me Anything)”.

Each blog post in this series will have a specific focus, such as marketing your images, photo editing techniques or general travel as a photographer where I answer questions such as how do I handle getting visas in specific countries. Each question that I address will come directly from photographers like you from all over the globe. If you want to submit a question that you would like me to answer in a future Photographer AMA post, click HERE.

Today’s focus is on the use of Social Media for photographers. Lets begin…
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Gear Review: Toshiba’s Ultra Resolution 13″ Kirabook Laptop


In May of 2013 Toshiba announced their new flagship 13″ ultrabook laptop, the Kirabook. Their goal was to create a premium laptop for Windows users that not only competed with Apples Macbook Air, but also their Macbook Pro laptop line. With a retina like touch display (2560×1440), i7 processor, 8GB of ram and a solid magnesium frame that is said to be 100% stronger than what Apple currently uses, Toshiba had my attention. As an adventure travel/humanitarian photographer, I am always on the look out to find the best gear to suit my demanding needs. Ever since I switched away from an IOS/OSX (Apple) world over a year and a half ago, I have been struggling to find a solid high quality laptop that lives up to my high standards. My ideal travel laptop needs to be portable (lightweight), fast, have a minimum of 8gb of RAM (for Photoshop & Lightroom), have a beautiful screen and support USB 3.0 (for image backup on the road). By the time that 2013 is over, I will have worked in Australia, Iceland (2x), Tanzania, Thailand, Myanmar, Utah, Arizona, California, South Carolina, North Carolina and Colorado…often times working in harsh conditions and well off the grid. Lets see if Toshiba’s Kirabook stands up to the challenge as I use it throughout my time in Iceland and Tanzania in east Africa….

Toshiba Kirabook in Zanzibar Tanzania

Toshiba Kirabook in Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Welcome to the New SmugMug – A True Game Changer

SmugMug Logo (Dark)As photographers, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve how our images are viewed on the internet. While many photographers have begun to choose to use Facebook, Google+ or 500px as their photo hosting site of choice, nothing beats having your own website. Unlike Facebook, a website is the one piece of the Internet that is truly yours. You control how it looks, how it functions and what features you want. This being said, creating your own photography site, let alone a truly custom and unique website, has always been an incredibly difficult task.

As many of you know, I have been an avid SmugMug user since August of 2011, utilizing their services to host both my Portfolio and Online Store sections of my website in the past. Previously, I had to hire a custom web designer to help me create the look and feel of my website, but those days are gone.

With that, I am happy to introduce the NEW SmugMug. A completely redesigned system, built from the ground up, that truly tries to rethink website creation for photographers, putting the power back in your hands!


I am now in the process of moving my entire website over to SmugMug’s new redesigned system.You can follow along with me over the next few weeks as I continue to fine tune on the new Colby Brown Photography website based purely off of the new SmugMug system (aside from my wordpress blog).

If you are interested in giving SmugMug a try after reading this blog post, you can use the discount code “colbybrown” to get an extra 20% discount. Read More…

Can Photo Spheres Change the Way We Experience The World?

Logo for Android Photo Sphere Jelly Bean 4.2On October 29th, 2012 Google announced the Android Jelly Bean 4.2 operating system as well as a slew of new Android Nexus devices (Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10). One of the key photography focused features in 4.2 that was showcased was called “Photo Sphere“, which effectively allows you to capture immersive 360 degree panoramas (covering both horizontal and vertical elements). However currently, there are already other applications for mobile devices that allow you to take amazing standard panoramas but the end results are always the same….a flat image that makes it somewhat difficult  to really get a feel for what you are looking at.

Android Photo Sphere taken on a Galaxy Nexus at Horse Shoe Bend

Android Photo Sphere taken at Horse Shoe Bend during sunset when viewed as a flat image

This is where Android’s Photo Sphere takes things to the next level. If you have ever used the “Street View” feature on Google Maps, you will have an idea of how a Photo Sphere works, which isn’t by accident considering the feature was created by members of the Google Maps Street View Team. The basic premise is that the viewer is in the center of the action, allowing them to experience a location as if they were standing on the very spot the Photo Sphere was taken. When looking at a PS, you can use your mouse (or finger on a mobile device) to rotate around the image, constantly changing your perspective. Want to look up at the sky as if you were there? No problem! Want to see what was behind the photographer? Easily done.

Up until now, the only way to view a Photo Sphere properly was on Google+ or on an Android mobile device running the 4.2 software (or higher). I am happy to announce that I have been working with the amazing team of engineers over at Android and you can now embed a slide show viewer onto your website to showcase your very own Photo Spheres to the world (Instructions have been removed by Google, but will be back soon).

*Use your mouse to click & move around the Photo Spheres below

Over the course of the last six months, I have used my Android Google Nexus & Nexus 4 smart phones to capture Photo Spheres all over the globe including locations in Jordan, Australia, California, Utah and Colorado. While mobile photography technology still has room for improvement, I am constantly surprised by the detail captured in a PS. While my professional images will always be the best way that I can showcase a given scene or moment, I have truly enjoyed creating and sharing Photo Spheres as they tend to offer a very immersive experience to the viewer…showcasing the world all around me, rather then just a small but very specific moment that is found in my work as a photographer.

Viewing a Photo Sphere from within Google+

A Photo Sphere of Little Petra in Jordan from within Google+

This year I have numerous upcoming trips (Iceland, Africa, Thailand, Myanmar and others) and you can be sure that I will be capturing Photo Spheres along these adventures. As Google and Android continue to improve the software with PS and mobile photography technology continues to advance at the rapid rate that we have seen over the last 36 months, things are only going to get better and better. Be sure to look for an in-depth tutorial (that I am co-writing with the Android team) on how to best capture your own Photo Spheres as well as other major announcements in the coming months.

Twenty Apps Every Android Photographer Should Have Vol 2

Multiple Android LogoIf there is one thing that I can say for certain, it is that it is an exciting time for mobile photography. Every year the phones and tablets we use get faster, lighter and more efficient  When it comes to mobile photography, both IOS and Android are continuing to push the boundaries of what we think is possible in sensors that are incredibly small. Having a powerful camera that fits into your pocket has never been more practical.

While Apple and IOS (iPhone & iPad) have been the products championed by photographers and the photo industry for years, things are continuing to change. Google’s Android mobile devices now equate for roughly 72% of ALL smart phones worldwide (SOURCE), while Apple’s iPad is quickly losing ground in the tablet market to the likes of Samsung, Amazon and Google’s own Nexus line. In the end, this competition is good for us all, as each company continues to try to out do the other. These days I use the entire Android Nexus line of devices (Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10) as well as a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

In February of 2012, I published the article “Twenty Apps Every Android Photographer Should Haveto much fan fair. To this day, it continues to receive a large amount of traffic. However as you know, 12 months is a long time in the technology world and much has changed since then. With that in mind, I am happy to present to you Twenty Apps Every Android Photographer Should Have Vol 2!

*Many of these apps have free versions, but if you like the app, purchase the full version and help support the app developers.

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A Year in Reflection: 2012

Another year has come and gone and all of us are left with memories of the last 12 months. As a photographer, I am fortunate that my art-form allows me to capture many of these moments and share them with the world. 2012 was a year of growth, travel and experiences I will never forget. I taught photography workshops in Death Valley NP, Zion NP, Nicaragua, Peru, Cambodia and Jordan. I also had adventures in Iceland, Bolivia and Alaska as I scouted locations for future trips and workshops. My wife and I were also able to watch my son, Jack, grow up (he is now 15 months old), which has continued to shape and reshape my view of the world and my place in it.

As I look back at these memories and experiences, I can’t help but reflect on the perspective they bring to my life. In choosing these 12 images to share, I am giving you some insight into the personal nature of my work as a photographer. While I love sharing my photography with the world, I try not to judge the value of my images based on how you respond to them. A favorite image of mine is still my favorite no matter if it goes viral on Google+ with hundreds of thousands of views or gets 5 likes on Facebook. In fact, many of these images have never been released to the public.

When you are choosing your favorite images of 2012 (or any year in the future), I hope that you aren’t swayed too much by public opinion. Too many photographers try to place a tangible quantifiable value on their work based solely off of social media interaction. Maybe I am out on left field on this one, but art has always spoken to me because of its personal nature. If the number of people that “Liked” images equated to their true value, then animated cat GIFs would be in museums and nearly all photographers would need to look for new jobs ;)

Regardless, I wish you all the best in 2013 and if you see me out in the field or on a plane heading somewhere, please don’t’ hesitate to stop and introduce yourself. I love meeting new people!

*click on the images below to view larger versions…

The Gullfoss Waterfall in South Western Iceland

“The Power of Gullfoss” – Hvítá river, Iceland

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Social Media for Photographers: Stipple

When most people think of social media, they think of it as a foreign concept that they are not quite sure how to use. As a photographer you have plenty of options when it comes to networks where you can choose to spend your time and energy, but not every network might work for your needs. That is where this blog series comes in. Aptly titled, Social Media for Photographers“, the focus of this series is to provide you with enough information and knowledge about each of the main social networks so that you can make better choices when it comes to the time you spend on line. While the series started with a single broad post about all of the networks (found HERE), each subsequent posts picks a particular network and provides an in-depth assessment of its features and the value it has to photographers while also listing tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the network itself. I have already published the Facebook and Google+ editions, with Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to follow.

Today’s focus is on STIPPLE, the newest and arguably the most exciting social network that seems to have photographers in mind. With that said, lets get started! Read More…

Social Media for Photographers: Google+

When it comes to being a photographer, there is no shortage of online networks waiting for you to share your images, interact with others and potentially grow your business. This article is part of a larger series of posts aimed at providing information and awareness for individuals looking to leverage social media and social networks in pursuit of their passion for photography. Titled, “Social Media for Photographers“, the series started as a broad overview that focused on defining many of the options a photographer has to choose from. From there it broke down into focused posts on each network. While this specific post is focused on Google+, I have published editions that focus on Facebook and Stipple, with Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to follow.

For a much more in depth look at Google+ specifically, check out my latest book, “Google+ for Photographers” which can be found at all major book retailers (e-book version available as well). With that in mind, lets get started… Read More…