Travel Photography Tools And Tips: Traveling Digital Imaging Style


Courtesy of Flixel Photos Inc.

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.”—Roy M. Goodman

The most important tip I would like to share about travel photography is never buy a new camera or lens before traveling to Bhutan or even Carhenge. The next most essential travel photography secret is that using your equipment has to be instinctive; when a photo op presents itself you may only have a few seconds to get a shot. There’s no time to think about what menu to use or how to turn on continuous AF, or what exposure mode you’re in. Using your camera has to be instinctive; you should see—or even anticipate—then click the shutter. It’ll make travel more fun, too.

What Hybrid Photography Is Really About
At the WPPI Expo I was talking with Panasonic’s Mark Toal and William Innes (, a California photographer who shoots weddings with mirrorless cameras, when a portrait appeared on the booth’s monitors. It was a woman with a pink boa and while this was obviously a still photograph, the feathers in the boa were moving. “That’s Flixel,” Innes told me and I headed over to their booth to learn more. Here’s how it works: You record a brief video clip, with the first frame becoming the base portrait; the other frames become layers. Then you selectively erase the top layer, allowing the other layers to show through to create movement. Flixel lets you add other enhancements to the image that when saved can be shared as an animated GIF file. Look at their YouTube video ( to see it in action. Flixel sells for $199.99 and is available from the Mac App Store. It should be a sure-fire hit for high school senior and wedding photographers but could also make for interesting travel images for your website or blog.

Courtesy of Flixel Photos Inc.

Digital Photo Corners
The first thing you do with travel photos is put them in an album, right? Our friend in Greece, Panos Efstathiadis has introduced a new set of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements Actions that emulate the photo slits used in album pages. The actions offer lots of options, allowing both Photoshop pros and the home user to produce attractive displays. The use of vector design produces consistent (and excellent) results no matter the size of the original image and the use of Smart Filters gives you control over the smallest details.

The actions let you add an extra touch to the final image by changing the border style to, for example, vintage or lace. The free version contains one action for images that have a 4:3 ratio, while the full version ($17.69 at today’s exchange rate) contains 17 actions for images of 4:3 ratio, 17 for 3:2 ratio, 17 for 1:1 ratio, 17 for 16:9 ratio, and two special Rhombus a.k.a. diamond style. (In Euclidean geometry, a rhombus is a simple quadrilateral whose four sides all have the same length.)

Courtesy of

Raw Files For The World To See
Zenfolio is a popular site generation tool for photographers and two shooters featured in this month’s Web Profiles column use the service so you can see how it works in the real world. The company now allows their users to store Raw or even non-image files. The storage feature accepts Raw, PSD, DNG, and NEG with no restrictions when used with Zenfolio’s Unlimited, Premium, and Premium Business plans. Existing users can purchase the option without any additional sign-up. In addition to storing Raw files, photographers have the option to sell their Raw travel photographs by simply including the option to download for their account. The first 2GB of Raw files are free: each additional GB of storage costs 8.5 cents per GB per month for US subscribers.

Courtesy of Zenfolio

Battery Charger For Digital SLRs
Another one of my favorite bits of advice for travel is don’t forget to bring extra batteries and especially a charger. In my April 2014 column I mentioned Hähnel’s Extreme Li-Ion Batteries for Professionals that can replace Canon’s E8, E9 and Nikon’s EL-14, EL-15 OEM batteries. The second part of their one-two punch is the ProCUBE Twin Charger that can simultaneously charge one or two Nikon or Canon batteries, as well as Hähnel’s own Extreme versions. It can also simultaneously charge four 700 mAh AA batteries using the included tray.

Depending upon battery model, the ProCUBE will fully charge one or two batteries in one to three hours and four AAs with 2500 mAh capacity in about four hours. The AA tray also stores batteries when not in use. The ProCUBE has a microchip-regulated charge controller for each battery and an LCD display that shows the charging status of both kinds of batteries. The ProCUBE includes a USB port for charging mobile devices, like your smartphone. Interchangeable adapter plugs for the US, Europe, and the UK are included, as is a 12v DC adapter for on-the-go charging in your vehicle.

Courtesy of Hähnel

Make Your Own Marketing App
Cliff Lawson, one of the most innovative photographers shooting high school senior portraits, told me about My Photo App, a service that lets you create customized apps, allowing customers to show off their portraits. The app can be stored on a customer’s smartphone and more importantly sent to their friends a.k.a. potential clients. This means your studio gets the exposure of a well-crafted viral ad with the additional cache of a real-time customer testimonial. My Photo App integrates with social media and includes sharing buttons, allowing for insertion of icons at the top or bottom of the screen. Built-in analytics let you track how successful your apps are being shared, giving you metrics to improve your marketing. Pricing is by subscription so you can try it for a month ($25) or a year ($149) and it should pay for itself after your first senior portrait sale.

Courtesy of

Filters For Digital? Why Not.
I’m often asked: what’s the place for analog filters in a digital world now that digital filters, plug-ins, and Lightroom presets offer so many choices in postproduction? Other than the obvious need, to me anyway, of protection filters, sometimes because of time constraints you have to deliver SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera), as all the cool kids say. A good case for this could be made for Neutral Density (ND) filters. Fotodiox (pronounced foto-dee-ox) is a company that doubles down on filters with their line of WonderPana filters that are available in both round and square format in ND and graduated ND versions. Their WonderPana FreeArc is a system of filters tailored to fit super-wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses, including Nikon’s 14-24mm. It has an all-metal core that attaches directly to a lens, allowing you to mount any of the company’s 145mm Slimline Filters. There’s even an option for Lee and Cokin XL filters. The WonderPana FreeArc will hold two graduated ND rectangular filters or one round and one graduated ND rectangular filter, and can rotate 360 degrees.

Courtesy of Fotodiox

Joe Farace invites Shutterbug readers to visit his blogs, including “Saving the World, One Pixel at a Time” ( and “Mirrorless Photo Tips” ( Check for new how-to posts every day, Monday through Friday.

Flixel Photos Inc.:
My Photo App:
R.T.S. Inc. (Hähnel):