Take Epic Hands-Free Fireworks Photos

With the American Independence day holiday right around the corner I thought it would be timely to have a quick how-to post on shooting fireworks. In the first part of this video I share basic fireworks tips and tricks for getting great shots.  

  1. You must have a tripod or something to hold the camera steady or a few seconds. I love the Leofoto Tripod

  2. Use manual mode on your camera - Shutter speeds between 2 and 8 seconds, Aperture f/5.6-8.0, ISO 100-200 if you have a P&S camera use the fireworks scene setting (still need a tripod)

  3. Use a remote release device to trigger your camera- I recommend Intervalometer with multiple connections: http://amzn.to/29xNO3M

  4. Be ready! Some of your best opportunities happen early on, as the smoke builds your shots may get hazy unless you have a breeze removing the smoke. So I suggest you start to setup before it gets dark, frame your composition and take a few test shots - use trees or light poles near the fireworks launch spot to focus on - review the photos watching for stray objects or horizon lines that might distract from the fireworks. If you end up setting up in the dark, use the following tips - set your ISO to MAX and your shutter speed long enough to get a well lit photo, we don't care if it is grainy, we just want to get quick feedback on focus and composition. Once you have those set then use the suggested settings in step 2 for the actual fireworks shots.

  5. Try to time your shots to start just as the rockets head up, longer shutter speeds are going to capture more of the action

  6. Experiment but don't forget to enjoy the show some too

  7. Finally, watch out for the Grand Finale - shorten the shutter speed during that fireworks-heavy period or you will end up with an overexposed image.

Related - Long Exposure Sparklers Photos / Light Painting

13 Years Ago!


August 2005, I had come out from the east coast on a family vacation. I brought along my trusty Canon G5 P&S and while I was mostly still shooting JPEG I was excited that the camera allowed RAW and full manual control. One morning, before the family woke up, I drove into Mt Rainier NP and found a beautiful little waterfall to photograph. Last week, as I was scouting for an upcoming photography workshop with McKay Photography Academy, I realized I was standing in the same spot, looking at the same waterfall. Almost exactly thirteen years to the date! And a few days later, as we returned as a group I had a few moments to contemplate this wild ride of life and how in no way could I have imagined this life today. I have no deep statement about this other than to say - you are probably reading this because you are at least a little passionate about photography and who knows where life will take you but bring your camera along for the ride! That morning I also captured this shot of Mt. Rainier in Reflection Lake When I returned home I printed these images along with one more of my daughter from the vacation. I matted and entered three photos into our local town fair where they all received a bit of recognition - Honorable mentions and 2nd place in a landscape category!  When I went to pick up my photos someone had left a note that they wanted to buy the photo of Mt Rainier. To say I was excited is a bit of an understatement. You see before I had submitted these photos I told myself that if they received any type of recognition I should take that as a sign to get more serious about photography. And not only did I have three ribbons someone actually wanted to pay me money for my photo! Now - I look back at these photos and see quite a few things wrong but there is enough that was right that got me where I am today.

Instagram Tips // Instagram is too much F#$%ing Work!


Sometimes it feels like the time I spend posting, hashtagging, captioning is a total time suck. A few tools and tips that can help but really a conversation with you - how are you feeling about Instagram these days?

Auto Publishing

Services like Later.com can help schedule your posts to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Now at least for Instagram, they've finally enabled auto-publishing, saving you from getting the phone out just to post! Check it out at https://later.com/#ref=photorectv


Hashtags take forever, especially for those wanting to put out 30 for each post. Later.com uses hashtag groups to save time, but you need to change it up. Fortunately, it's hashtag suggestion feature will help a bit, but it needs to be fleshed out more. Instead just stalk your local Instagrammers to see what the popular tags are for your area and try to incorporate some when you can.

Image Tips

Your image quality matters!

  • Bright images with a strong white point draw people into the photos
  • Level your horizon, that's that little extra to make people think your photo is worth a like
  • Clear subjects have to count, get rid of distracting elements so there's a strong focus on your subject


Connect with your viewer, you need to sell yourself with a good caption for the photo.

  • The personal story behind the photo
  • How the image was captured
  • Or ask a question, just make it a good one!

Locations of In-Flight Photos


So what the heck did you just shoot a photo of out the plane? As we’re back from Joshua Tree here’s a quick tip for traveling if your the type that loves the window seat for photos. It’s not that hard and gives you a rough idea where you took the shot.

  • So when you take photos off your phone typically it stays in the time zone that you started in which works out in this case. That gets saved to the photo's metadata which you can get to by hitting info (under … at the top right in android) or pulling it up in Lightroom (bottom of the right panel in the library).

  • Go to flightradar24.com or flightaware.com and pull up your flight info. Without paying for a plan Flightradar24 only gives you the last 7 days free, Flightaware is 14 days or 4 months with a free account. I’m including both as you might miss the first one coming back from a trip.


Flightradar24 (www.flightradar24.com)Flightradar, in this case, is the easy one. Simply convert your time to UTC, in my case “5:59pm edt to utc” in google brings up 9:59 PM which is 21:59 in military time. So then hit play, skip to that time, and there we go. Albeit the data is usually off a bit but gets you in the ballpark. I shooting a bit behind the plane so this shot is a bit northeast of what the site says. Making this Bullfrog Bay in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with Mt Ellsworth and Mt Holmes in the background.FlightAware (flightaware.com)

  1. Get your takeoff time off the site.

  1. Go to www.calculator.net/time-calculator.html and subtract your shot time by the takeoff time.

  1. Hit play and skip ahead to your shot time. In comparison, this map isn’t as helpful but overall you get the area and can find it in google maps. If you click on the three lines at the top right of the map you can switch between map sources to get some city names to find in google maps.

Epic Water Drop Photography

https://youtu.be/EwxQlKuIKj8 Make awesome splash photos in your home with the MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit. Throw in a flash and a colored gel and you can create some EPIC photos with the press of a single button.MIOPS Splash Kit - https://bhpho.to/2LtVwxUSplash Kit Holder - https://bhpho.to/2JgtBooCamera Connection Cord - https://bhpho.to/2JhXp47Cheap flash w/ PC sync - https://bhpho.to/2JnRiaqAlready have a flash? Alternative - https://bhpho.to/2JjCf5mAffordable Flash Gel Kit - https://bhpho.to/2JrcwnyNeed a glass container recommendation: https://amzn.to/2JqgvAQYou can also purchase gear at https://www.miops.com/miops-splash/Camera settingsShutter Speed: BULBISO 100Aperture f/16Flash SettingsManual 1/64 powerMIOPS App SettingsDrop 1: 50msDelay 100mmsDrop 2: 50msDelay: 200ms - Flash ModeFor the purpose of the video you saw me shoot during the daylight hours. The resulting images are ok but I found the best images in a dark room (I just waited until the sun set and turned off all the lights) With the flash on a fairly low power you can get some extremely colorful images.GALLERY of MIOPS Splash Water Drop Kit photos by Toby

Wildlife Photography - Tips and Tricks


A new video with some wildlife photography tips. Get better photos with longer lenses to nail those wildlife shots! 


Tamron SP 150-600mm

Tamron SP 150-600mm

  • Animals are for the most part shy making a 400mm lens your best bet with 600mm getting even closer for great shots.

  • Using a longer focal length brings the wildlife to you, letting them take up more of the shot for an impressive photo.

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary

The Sigma 150-600 C is one of the best values in super telephoto, The Tamron G2 is a little sharper but more expensive. Check out photorec.tv/wildlifegear for recommended gear cameras and lenses for wildlife photography at every budget.

Shutter Speeds

When you are shooting with a longer lens you want to watch your shutter speeds. Typically when photographing it goes aperture first, but when using a longer lens and especially when photographing wildlife, it's shutter speed first.

Focal length rule: Focal Length * 2(Times the amount of coffee you've had)

A post shared by Roy McKee III (@roymckeeiii) on Oct 27, 2016 at 10:30am PDT

That means for a 400mm lens you are looking at roughly a 1/800 shutter speed. The rule doesn't account for your subject though, meaning that in cases of faster objects like birds in flight you'll need speeds up to 1/2000 of a second. Going for faster photos first can net you "safe" shots with a higher ISO, meaning more noise, then you can back the speed down a bit for cleaner images. Tripods and IS can help speeds a bit as well keeping things a bit lower as well.

  • Remember - expose properly, don’t underexpose your image because when you brighten the image in post it is going to get much noisier.

  • Focus mode - with static or slow-moving subjects a single point is fine - running or flying - a wider array of points really helps the camera track your subject. And switch to Continuous AF for subjects on the move.

Sony a7R III

Sony a7R III

Gear Recommendations - photorec.tv/wildlifegear

Feel free to post questions about gear here or consider joining my awesome photography community at the Photo Enthusiast Network

How-to: Photograph the Milky Way

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCZSDJqMek4&feature=youtu.beSimple tips and tricks for getting the best milky way photos - from when to go, where to go and what gear to use.

When to Shoot

March to October is good but the best times to see the galactic core is late April to late July here in the Northern Hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere February to October with the galactic core best visible during June and July - The galactic core is arguably the most interesting and most photogenic section of the milky - So take a moment and add a calendar reminder to watch this video again in the spring.You also want nights with no moon - this means a new moon or dates when the moon is below the horizon - a quick search online yields lots of helpful info. On iOS and Android, I love Photopills it has at a glance moon info as well as rise/set times for the Galactic core for your location AND a mode that lets you overlay the night sky & milky way on the landscape where you are standing!


Someplace with low amounts of light pollution - to figure out the closest dark skies visit website Dark site Finder - Yellow is eh, Green is ok, blue is good, black is even better. But don’t let this stop you from trying - Your milky way shots might not be the best but at least get out, practice and develop the skills so when you end up at the right time and place you can get THE SHOT.DO include interesting foreground elements - rocks, trees, mountains, something to ground your viewer on earth while giving them a taste of the stars above.


Irix FireflyYou need a sturdy tripod - I have my favorites listed below. As for lens choice. Full Frame equivalents of 14 to 30 work well for me. The IRIX firefly is my current budget favorite - I have a review of several lenses perfect for astrophotography linked below. You could go fisheye or shoot a panorama if you have a full view of the sky with little light pollution.

Camera Settings

Get manual focus during the day and then tape or lock your focus ring at that point.

  • Aperture - Use the widest your lens allows - f/2.8 is great wider is even better Kit lenses at f/3.5 are a possibility too.
  • Shutter speed - Probably about 20 seconds but follow the 500 rule and keep that shutter speed as short as possible so stars are pinpoints and not streaks. Taking multiple shots and stacking for lower noise higher detail is an option too - I haven’t done that yet - I have been happy with single shots.
  • ISO You are probably going to end up around 1600 - lower if you have a faster lens than f/2.8 - higher if you have a slower lens.

In Post

Post Processing I typically cool the image - brighten overall image but especially the stars by increasing the highlights and I use a brush to increase the brightness of the milky way and a second brush to decrease the brightness of the darker sections - overall increasing contrast and making the milky way stand out more. 

Apps for Photography

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNaHol4Wz7E&feature=youtu.be[/embed]You are carrying a mini computer with you all the time, why not put it to use? Check out some of our favorite smartphone apps to get your photography going.Weather Underground

Weather Underground (Free)

Google PlayApple App StoreI like weather undergrounds info and display and they let you set up smart forecasts that can quickly give you an idea of optimal times for various activities including astrophotography.

WU StormSTORM by Weather Underground (Free)

Apple App Store

Along with weather underground, I use STORM for real-time radar that can be helpful to know exactly when that rain is going to stop at your location. I find watching the radar and the movement of the precip is more accurate in the short term than any forecasts.

NOAA Weather InternationalNOAA Weather International (Free, $2.99 Ad Free)

Google PlayApple App Store

AND I sometimes want to know what the weather nerds are saying about the future and the NOAA app gives me a straightforward look at each day and provides an easy click to read the forecast discussion. You can also click to see the elevation of a location on the map. FREE or pay $2.99 to remove the adds.

Tide Charts Near MeTide Charts Near Me (Free, $1.99 Ad Free)

Google PlayApple App Store

I live near the coast and we regularly run workshops on both coasts - knowing the tide is critical to knowing how much beach or rock will be exposed and if the tide is headed out giving you plenty of time to shoot or the tide is coming in when you need to be very careful about getting stranded, Tides- Charts near me is a simple representation of the tides near you - with automatic updating based on your location. FREE or $1.99 to remove the ads.

PhotopillsPhotoPills ($9.99)

Google PlayApple App Store

This is huge and I was pretty happy when they offered an Android app - First I love the widget - at a glance I know sunrise, sunset, moonrise and even the status of the galactic core for my location! Once you dive into the app your find tons of useful info from the planner to the AR that helps you line up for sunsets, sunrises and star trails. Additional calculators further help your planning- tons of useful info and well worth the $10 - you can find most of these items in other apps for free but I haven’t found any that bring them all together in one app.

SquarespaceSquarespace (Free)


The square space app makes it really easy to update your site with posts, photos and even video - The one way to get people to come back to your site again and again and that is to update the content and offer information behind the photos - Squarespace makes it incredibly easy to build a beautiful website and blog and the app makes it really easy to update on the go. Additional apps from Squarespace allow you to track your analytics, keep notes, update your store and more.
It’s fine to put your best work on Instagram but you should have a website where you control everything and display your work professional in a big beautiful way and Squarespace makes it easy to do that - with beautiful custom templates and 24/7 support along with easy custom domains- Get your own website today at squarespace.com/photorectv and save 10% off your purchase.

SnapseedSnapseed (Free)

Google PlayApple App Store

Still my favorite editor for quick edits of photos captured with the phone or transferred via wifi

Lightroom CCLightroom - Full version (Adobe Creative Cloud Required)

Google PlayApple App Store

If you are smart about syncing Lightroom mobile can be powerful and recent upgrades have seriously improved the capabilities and stability of the app - almost making it my pick over Snapseed for editing... but go watch my Snapseed secrets it is just so quick and powerful once you know a few tricks. Sound good? Click here to sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud.

Later.comLater (Free)

Google PlayApple App Store

I continue to love Later for an easy way to get images and captions to your phone - I hate writing captions and hashtags on my mobile device and recent updates to the paid plan give you the best times to post and suggest hashtags making new posts easy. Sign up today and get started!

MiopsMiops ($30 Dongle or $125 Remote Required)

Google PlayApple App Store

I talked about this on my recent Yosemite trip - with a small dongle you can trigger your camera in several different ways - really useful - I will be posting a separate video about this system soon.Pick up the Dongle or Remote on Amazon

TrackRTrackR (Free, TrackR Required)

Google PlayApple App Store

This little Bluetooth tracker lets me ping my camera bag and set an alert if it moves outside of Bluetooth range - I have only started using this - certainly not a full proof way to protect your camera bag but at least gives me a little more piece of mind.Buy a TrackR Today!

Photographing Washington DC - Cherry Blossoms, Sunrise Monuments - Tips, Tricks and Adventure!

I spent a weekend with McKay Photography Academy in Washington DC - Photographing the monuments and memorials at sunrise, sunset, the Cherry Blossom festival and all the cherry blossom trees around the tidal basin and Jefferson Memorials. Watch for tips on photographing sunrise, sunset and the monuments plus all our adventures!https://youtu.be/TmeuOMguXJk TWO MORE DAYS TO ENTER TO WIN A TRIPJoin me on a future trip - Yosemite NP, Glacier NP, the Arctic - learn more at http://photorec.tv/travel

Change Your Clocks for Daylight Savings Time

Whether or not you hate it, or lost sleep, a good chunk of the US and Europe has to deal with daylight savings time. Being that summer is coming it's time to turn the clock forward an hour on your cameras, and fix any metadata for photos taken since then.

  • Press Menu
  • Use the right arrow / af button until you reach the second settings wrench tab
  • Use down button to select Date/Time
  • Press set to select
  • Use the right button to reach the sun for daylight savings time
  • Press set to select
  • Use down button to turn on daylight savings time
  • Press set to confirm
Daylight savings time is on (spring forward one hour)
Daylight savings time is off (fall back one hour)


  • Press Menu
  • Press down to wrench/settings tab
  • Press down to go to Daylight saving time
  • Press right to turn daylight saving time on
  • Press OK
  • Press Menu
  • Press right to select briefcase/camera settings tab
  • Scroll down to Date/Time Setup
  • Press Enter
  • Daylight Savings should be selected, press enter
  • Press up to select on to spring forward an hour
  • Press Enter
Edit Time in Lightroom

Quick Tip: This method is also helpful when traveling to a different time zone and you forgot to switch your camera's time.

  • While in the Library module select your photo(s)
  • At the top click metadata then select edit capture time
  • Select shift by set number of hours (time zone adjust)
  • As it's daylight savings time select +1 as the new time
  • Click change


HACK: Sharing Panoramas on Instagram

I have a quick hack for using the new instagram multi image feature to actually just share ONE giant panorama. Scroll down for video on how-to share a giant Panorama on Instagram.

Here is the Panorama I want to share

Posting it to Instagram results in this VERY limited view 

But with this trick you can share the WHOLE image in a big, Panorific way



How to Shoot and Edit Panorama Photos


Snowfall Shutter Speed

February and March are typically the snowiest month for much of North America - When you are photographing falling snow think about the mood you want to convey and decide which shutter speed is right for you. Your aperture will play a role here too. Large apertures/shallow depth of field will produce bigger out of focus flakes and a smaller aperture/larger depth of field will produce smaller flakes.Shutter Speed can be used to convey motion! I often use a slow shutter speed when photographing rushing water to smooth it all out, creating a peaceful scene. Or you can pan the camera at slower shutter speeds while tracking a subject creating motion blur everywhere except your subject. You can see these techniques and more in my shutter speed video below. In this post I just want to share the effects of shutter speed on falling snow. Depending on the speed and size of the snowflakes your results may vary slightly but experiment and see what works best for your scene and the mood you are trying to convey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LER6RFkkj68  

Make Photos EP #002 - Long Exposure Light Trails with Seattle Skyline

I walk you through the capture and post processing in Lightroom of one a recent Instagram photo -  Using a popular vantage point of the city of Seattle - Dr. Jose Rizal Park, a conveniently placed hole in the fence and a long exposure to get light trails creating this image - Follow me on Instagramhttps://youtu.be/fBofBxH8NiEGear used in this videoSony alpha a7r iiCanon 24-70 f/2.8 II LNisi Filters CPL (part of the kit)MeFoto Travel Tripod CFGear used to MAKE this videoPanasonic GH4Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 Lens  

Your Photos Suck - Tips for Sucking Less as a Photographer

I have just a few quick tips to help you suck less as a photographer - or at the very least fool your friends into thinking you are improving greatly! This is a great video to share with your friends and family who post way too many photos on facebook. A couple of simple tips will get everybody taking better photos.https://youtu.be/ihaz1_xmxFk

Quick Tips to better photos

  1. Share only your best work - if you have three photos of a tree PICK ONE, the best one and only share that one image. I used Facebook in the video but if you upload to more than one photo to Instagram at the same time you are doing it WRONG.
  2. Post process your images- Nothing major requiring hours - just add a little clarity, make sure your horizon is straight - learn just how easily it is, you can even do it automatically on import!
  3. Be deliberate in your framing, leveling and timing(see tip 4) - I talk more about framing in my tips for photographing cities.
  4. Timing - don't just snap a photo and walk away - wait for the moment that frames people, objects nicely.
  5. Take time to learn the basics of your camera and understand aperture, shutter speed and ISO

Do you have additional simple tips for sucking less? Leave a comment on the video Thanks to Nick Sharples for helping me film Follow @nsharplesFilmed withPanasonic GH4 and 12-35 f/2.8 LensHandheld Shots with Crane gimbal

Photographing Cities - Tips & Tricks for Better Photos

I have some tips and recommendations for getting better photos in historic cities like Edinburgh Scotland- What to look for, how to frame, what is the best focal length for city photography and the best time of day for photographing in the old historic streets. Filmed on location in Edinburgh Scotland and London England.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAv0gxRVbQg  

Make Your Fall Color Photography and Editing Pop

It's that time of the year, fall color is here, and Toby is in New England with McKay Live for the Fall Color Tour. Watch these videos for your go to source to get the best shots you can this season. For a fall color map for your area you can check the Smoky Mountains site here: https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0JiBWe5UG0https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSxqnephiYohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smx9rtUnn88Bonus Editing Tips for Fall Colorshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0mW_KDOgGY

Canon 5D Mark IV Tips and Tricks- Custom Button Setup


Recommendations for custom buttons with the Canon 5D Mark IV

Shutter Button: Metering start (more about back button focus)AF-On: Metering and AF start (default)AE Lock Button: One Shot - ServoDOF preview button: Depth of Field preview (default)Lens: AF-Off (default)M-fn: FEL (default)SET: MagnifyMain Dial: TV shutter speed (default) - this is the front dialQuick Control Dial: AV aperture (default) - this is the rear dialMulti-controller: Direct AF point selectionAF area selection button: Selected AFpt - Cent/Reg AFpt  - I personally want to call this button the nub.(default means I haven't changed it from camera's default setting)   

Underwater Photography - with Mermaids!

A photo posted by J.Berendt Photography (@jberendtphotography) on

Back in July on the DC Photowalk (which was excellent by the way), @photorectoby of @photorec.tv asked me to share a bit about our underwater gear and how we process the images we make. I've been thinking about a quick way to communicate the basics of what we do and this is what I've come up with:

Underwater Photography Gear:

Nikon D750 - Chosen for its excellent low light sensitivity since we shoot with available light (which is typically in short supply underwater)Nauticam Housing - Chosen because it allows access to 99.99% of the camera's functionality underwater and it has been a dream to work with.

Our Basic Image Processing:

Shoot Raw - This allows for maximum color control in post. This is CRITICAL to getting the WB too look right Dehaze tool - water is not as clear as air. Even the crystal water of Hawaii needs a touch of Dehaze at times and it is a CRUCIAL when we shoot in our local quarry lake. Then - once those two things are taken care of we get into regular edits like clarity, shadows etc.We chose these sample images because they show what WB, Dehaze and a touch of clarity can do in about 5 seconds of editing. If you have questions/comments we'd love to start a conversation so let us know! And thank you once again, Toby for your interest in our work and methods! Follow @jberendtphotography for more underwater photos and maybe even a mermaid or two :)