acratech Photography Articles

Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Lake Tahoe Area

tahoe photography guidePhoto by Steven-Baranek via iStock

Last week, we published the first in a series of five Nevada photography and travel guides.

Where that one featured photography hot spots in the Vegas area, this one focuses on much more natural terrain - Lake Tahoe.

The Tahoe area of Nevada is unparalleled in its beauty, with opportunities for photographing the lake itself, as well as its beaches, interesting rock formations, and gorgeous sunsets, just to name a few.

Below, we've outlined our top three picks for photography spots in Tahoe, and have also provided details about where to stay, where to eat, points of interest, and so forth.

What to Photograph in Tahoe - Bonsai Rock

what to photograph in tahoePhoto by Spencer Jones via iStock

Bonsai RockBonsai Rock is a giant boulder just off the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe that has a few small trees growing on it.

While it's an interesting sight on its own, it really takes on an extra level of beauty during sunset, when the sun dips behind the Sierra Nevadas to the west.

As you can see in the photo above, the fiery colors of the sunset bring interest to the sky and to the calm waters of the lake, which helps brighten up the foreground as well.

The little cove in which Bonsai Rock resides is a popular spot for photographers, so get there early to get a premium spot.

emerald bay state park photosPhoto by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash

Planning Your Lake Tahoe Trip

  • Where to Stay:The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is in a great location on the southern tip of Lake Tahoe, offers 4-Star service, plentiful opportunities for gambling, lake views, and poolside cabanas. Prices are as low as $109/night.
  • Where to Eat: Cafe Fiore is just across the state line in California on the southern shore of the lake. It's a tiny restaurant with tons of ambiance and rave reviews for their authentic Italian cuisine.
  • Must-See Attractions: Emerald Bay State Park is a must-see spot across the border in California. The bay itself is breathtaking, but add in the fact that the only island in Lake Tahoe is in the bay and that there's a gorgeous, historic mansion on the bay as well, and you have a recipe for tons of gorgeous photographs. Sunrise is the ideal time to visit. Don't miss out on Eagle Falls, either.
  • Check the weather in Lake Tahoe right now.

Sand Harbor is Prime Photo Territory

lake tahoe photography guidePhoto by MariuszBlach via iStock

One of the most picturesque beaches in Lake Tahoe is found in Sand Harbor along the northeastern shore of the lake.

As the name indicates, Sand Harbor is a quiet, calm inlet with beautiful sandy beaches that make it an ideal place to take photos (and swim, too!).

During the summer, the area is virtually overrun with tourists during the day. But once the sun starts to go down, most of the crowds disappear, leaving you and other photographers alone to find the perfect spot for a shot of the harbor at sunset.

Note that there is a $10 entrance fee to Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park and that Sand Harbor closes one hour after sunset.

lake tahoe sunset with granite boulders picture id484346361Photo by NeilLockhart via iStock

Planning Your Sand Harbor Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is a 4-Star hotel just north of Sand Harbor and offers rooms starting at $156/night. The hotel's private beach is a must-see, and for some fun and relaxation, you can enjoy the on-site casino or the spa.
  • Where to Eat: Lone Eagle Grille is a fine-dining experience with an extensive menu of American cuisine and an impressive wine list as well.
  • Must-See Attractions: The large granite boulders that litter the landscape in and around Sand Harbor are worth a few clicks of your shutter button. Their shape, color, and texture add wonderful visual interest to photos of the harbor. Check out all the recreational opportunities in the Sand Harbor as well, including boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking.
  • Check the weather at Sand Harbor right now.

Find 360-Degree Views of Lake Tahoe From Cave Rock

view from cave rock picture id497798985Photo by TrevorFairbank via iStock 

To get a little more perspective on Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock should be on your list of top spots to photograph in Tahoe.

Just a short climb up the rocks, you'll find yourself with a breathtaking view of the lake from above.

Just park on the street and follow the path up the rock. You'll likely have fellow photographers at the top, so just be patient to get a prime spot to set up.

Wide-angle shots from this vantage point can be breathtaking, but don't discount the value of bringing a telephoto zoom with you to get more detailed and intimate shots of the surrounding area.

The area is open sunrise to sunset, and a $10 fee is required to enter (the fee gets you into all areas within Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park).

dog day afternoon picture id664081260Photo by Sharon Lynn via iStock

Planning Your Cave Rock Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is one of the nearest hotels to Cave Rock, but if you prefer something a little different, Harrah's Lake Tahoe offers a similar level of service and amenities for a smaller price tag.
  • Where to Eat: For a quick bite to eat, Fatburger at Harrah's is a great option.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Cave Rock area is rife with recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, and beaches.
  • Check the weather at Cave Rock right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Las Vegas Area

nevada photography and travel guide

If you're traveling to the Silver State with your camera in tow, don't leave before consulting this Nevada Photography and Travel Guide.

Though it would be virtually impossible to offer tips and hints for the all the best places to photograph in Nevada, we've got three top photography hot-spots you need to visit outlined below.

Additionally, we've taken the liberty of helping you with your planning by recommending places to stay, places to eat, and points of interest along the way.

All told, this guide gives you insights into beautiful photography spots from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon to Hoover Dam.

Let's get started!

What to Photograph in Nevada - The Strip

las vegas strip at night high vantage picture id502673274

Though the glitz and glam of Las Vegas' Strip isn't for everyone, it's undeniable that there is a lot to photograph along the 4.2 miles of tarmac that runs through the heart of the city.

From bright neon lights to incredible architecture to dancing water features, there's no lack of subject matter for creating eye-catching photos.

Street photography opportunities abound as well, with millions of people from all corners of the globe trekking to Vegas each year to try their hand at lady luck.

Be sure to visit the Fremont Street Experience for eye-popping photos of neon lights, check out the outdoor sculptures at the Smith Center for opportunities for portraits set against interesting backdrops, and visit Eldorado Canyon for a little landscape photography and ghost town experience as well.

nevada photography guide

Planning Your Las Vegas Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Palazzo at the Venetian Resort is in a great location on The Strip, offers 5-Star service, and has excellent reviews from guests. Prices are as low as $110/night.
  • Where to Eat: Top of the World has an excellent old-school Vegas menu, and with a location atop the Stratosphere tower, it also has the best views of the city.
  • Must-See Attractions: For a wild ride, try the X-Scream Roller Coaster at the top of the Stratosphere tower.
  • Check the weather in Las Vegas right now.

Red Rock Canyon is a Photographer's Dream

sunset in red rock canyon picture id477203340

Just a few miles west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a must-see location for photographers.

With nearly 200,000 acres of wilderness within the Mojave Desert to explore, you have plenty of room to roam and subjects on which to train your camera.

The beautiful vistas, red rocks, and different flora and fauna will challenge your photography eye and inspire your creativity.

Note that taking photos for casual or personal use is fine and does not require a permit. However, if you're a professional photographer or videographer, you'll need to get a permit before conducting any work. There is a $15 per vehicle charge to enter the area.

road at red rock canyon picture id494560238

Planning Your Red Rock Canyon Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: Since the canyon is so close to Las Vegas, you don't need different accommodations. However, if you'd rather be away from The Strip, the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa is a top choice.
  • Where to Eat: Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant is just south of the park and offers American food in a country-western style dining hall.
  • Must-See Attractions: The 13-mile scenic drive through the park is a must, with pull-outs and trails along the way for you to get out and explore the area with your camera. 
  • Check the weather at Red Rock Canyon right now.

Photograph Nevada History at Hoover Dam

hoover dam picture id174985229

It's not that Hoover Dam is particularly beautiful or anything, but its sheer size and the story behind its construction makes it a top spot to photograph in Nevada.

Constructed between 1931 and 1936, the dam is nearly 730-feet high and cost $41 million to build (in 1931 money). Today, it would cost nearly $700 million to construct.

When photographing the dam, walk across the Memorial Bridge Walkway on Highway 111 for the best view of the dam. Another prime vantage point to consider is from the Arizona side just east of the spillway, which affords views of the back of the dam and the intake towers, which light up beautifully at night.

hoover dam lit up for the night during sunset picture id178515285

Planning Your Hoover Dam Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: Again, Hoover Dam isn't all that far from Las Vegas, so you could stay in the same hotel on The Strip and make a day trip out of visiting the Dam. Another option is the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort, which offers 4-star service and a spa.
  • Where to Eat: If you like BBQ, it's tough to beat Fox Smokehouse BBQ in Boulder City.
  • Must-See Attractions: The official tour of Hoover Dam is well worth your time.
  • Check the weather at Hoover Dam right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Northeastern Nevada

northeast nevada travel guidePhoto by Elizabeth M. Ruggiero via iStock

Northeastern Nevada presents photographers with a wide range of subject matter.

From desolate deserts to bustling cities to national parks to ghost towns, it's an interesting and lonely place.

Best known for Highway 50, the loneliest highway in the world, as well as Elko, the Ruby Mountains, and Great Basin National Park, northeastern Nevada is certainly a place worth exploring and getting lost amongst the breathtaking landscapes.

This travel and photography guide for northeastern Nevada offers you some insights into what to see and photograph, where to stay, and what to eat.

What to Photograph in Northeastern Nevada - Highway 50

nevada photography guidePhoto by Boogich via iStock

Though Highway 50 stretches across the entire United States - from West Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland - its best-known stretch is perhaps that in Nevada.

A long, ribbon of tarmac, Highway 50 takes you through some of the most desolate areas in the Continental United States. There are many stretches in which there are few - if any - signs of civilization.

But the highway winds its way through some of Nevada's most iconic locations - Lake Tahoe and Carson City, alpine forests, ghost towns, desert valleys, and Great Basin National Park as well.

nevada high desert picture id178568504Photo by Gunter_Nezhoda via iStock

Planning Your Highway 50 Trip

  • Where to Stay: The La Quinta Inn & Suites Ely is clean and affordable. And since Ely is the last town for 162 miles as you travel west on Highway 50, it's really the only place to stay!
  • Where to Eat: If you're looking for good down-to-earth food and a large selection of drinks, give Racks Bar & Grill in Ely a try.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a must-see for train enthusiasts. The night sky-themed train ride is highly recommended.
  • Check the weather in Ely right now.

The Ruby Mountains are a Photographer's Paradise

ruby mountains island lake vista picture id91186734Photo by Joesboy via iStock 

Tucked in northeastern Nevada about 21 miles southeast of Elko, the Ruby Mountains are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the state.

Known for their abundances of wildlife, the Rubies offer spectacular views of mountains, lakes, valleys, and streams as well.

You can hike the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail that takes you along the spine of the range or visit the Ruby National Wildlife Refuge to scope out migratory birds. The Ruby Mountains Wilderness is a must-see as well, with over 90,000 acres of protected landscapes to delight your eye and serve as subject matter for your photos. 

back country solitude picture id683329830Photo by Justin R. Ray via iStock

Planning Your Ruby Mountains Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Best Western Elko Inn has excellent reviews and is centrally located on the eastern edge of Elko, giving you easy access to local attractions and restaurants.
  • Where to Eat: The Star Hotel gets rave reviews for its authentic Basque menu.
  • Must-See Attractions: The tiny hamlet of Lamoille, located at the base of the Rubies, is nestled along a creek amongst mature trees and is home to a postcard-worthy church - Little Church of the Crossroads - that's a must-see.
  • Check the weather at the Ruby Mountains right now.

Get Lost With Your Camera in Great Basin National Park

sunrise on wheeler peak nevadas great basin national park horizontal picture id155100218Photo by milehightraveler via iStock

Though Great Basin National Park might not have the name recognition of Yellowstone or Yosemite, it certainly doesn't short you on opportunities to take breathtaking landscape photos.

From the majestic Wheeler Peak to the mysterious Lehman Caves, there are landforms aplenty that will astonish you.

This area is also home to ancient Bristlecone pines that make ideal subjects for your photos.

A can't-miss photo op in this region is night photography, thanks to crystal clear skies that reveal a blanket of stars over the basin on most nights throughout the year.

bristlecone pine black white picture id969408036Photo by johnnya123 via iStock

Planning Your Great Basin National Park Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Stargazer Inn has excellent reviews and is one of the closest motels to the park.
  • Where to EatKerouac's Restaurant at the Stargazer Inn offers fresh takes on American classics and is open seasonally, April-October.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Lehman Caves are a spectacular sight that can't be missed when in Great Basin National Park. Tours run daily throughout the year and are led by park rangers that explain the history and geology of the caves. Make reservations early though, as the tours often sell out.
  • Check the weather at Great Basin National right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Northwestern Nevada

nevada photography guidePhoto by DennyThurstonPhotography via iStock 

Though northwestern Nevada might not have all the glitz and glam of Las Vegas or the name recognition of Lake Tahoe, there are still plenty of photography opportunities in this area.

Perhaps best known for Black Rock City - the host location for Burning Man - this part of Nevada is desolate, rugged, and full of beautiful and interesting landscapes.

In this travel and photography guide for northwestern Nevada, we offer insights into three of our favorite locations for photography.

Let's get to it!

What to Photograph in Northwestern Nevada - Black Rock Desert

black rock desert sunset picture id98460748Photo by mattnomad via iStock

The Black Rock Desert is a massive, protected area of nearly 315,000 acres.

Amongst all that acreage are an abundance of opportunities to photograph canyons, mountains, and even hot springs.

Much of the area is actually a playa - an enormous alkali flats - where you can take photos of the desert scene, capture images of landsailing, watch as people launch homemade rockets, and if you're timing is right, you can even catch the Burning Man Festival as well.

man with futuristic steampunk goggles and smoke bombs in desert picture id874099474Photo by wundervisuals via iStock 

Planning Your Black Rock Desert Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Holiday Inn Express Winnemucca is about 76 miles away and is one of the closest hotels to the Black Rock Desert.
  • Where to Eat: Bruno's Country Club offers a menu of traditional comfort food, and its location on Main Street in the town of Gerlach makes it one of the closest eateries to Black Rock Desert.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Burning Man Festival turns the playa into a must-see event each year in the late summer. Visit the Burning Man website for dates and other details.
  • Check the weather in Black Rock City right now.

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is Prime Wildlife Photography Territory

american bittern camouflaged sheldon national wildlife refuge reeds picture id674226878Photo by milehightraveler via iStock

Established in 1931 as an area to protect American pronghorn, the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is awash with all kinds of wildlife, including mule deer, sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and many varieties of song birds and migratory birds, like the American bittern shown above.

The refuge is mostly high desert with wide-open spaces of sagebrush-covered prairie with narrow canyons and rolling valleys interspersed throughout.

There are also many mountain peaks and steep cliffs, giving you opportunities for many different kinds of landscape photography in addition to wildlife photography.

Some restrictions apply regarding photography. Visit the refuge's permit page to learn more.

Planning Your Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Royal Peacock Opal Mine has a small RV Park, tent camping, and cabins. Be aware that the nearest full-service grocery store is 100 miles away and the closest gas station is 34 miles away. This area is extremely desolate!
  • Where to Eat: Your best bet is to pack a lunch (maybe dinner too) ahead of time as there are very few places to eat, and what is available is prohibitively far away.
  • Must-See Attractions: This area has an abundance of wildlife and sweeping vistas. Take a break from taking photos and simply enjoy watching wildlife or take in the sunset! The Thousand Creek Gorge (shown in the video above by Scott Waters) isn't bad either.
  • Check the weather at the refuge right now.

Photograph the Mysterious Fly Geyser

the colors of fly geyser picture id1040595482Photo by Spencer Jones via iStock

Perhaps one of the most interesting features in northwestern Nevada is Fly Geyser.

The geyser is actually not natural - it was accidentally created as a result of drilling a well in 1964. When the drilling commenced, geothermal water emerged and has been flowing ever since.

The travertine mound that surrounds the geyser has continued to grow over the years, and will keep doing so while water is still flowing. Inside the mound, quartz has already started forming, which is unusual since quartz usually takes about 10,000 years to form.

Fly Geyser used to be on private property, but Burning Man has since purchased the land. There are guided tours are available depending on the time of year.

desert sunset picture id146902190Photo by Pixonian via iStock

Planning Your Fly Geyser Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: Iveson Ranch offers primitive camping and a few dude ranch buildings that have been converted into guest rooms.
  • Where to Eat: Since the Fly Geyser is close to the town of Gerlach, Bruno's Country Club is a good bet.
  • Must-See Attractions: The so-called "Burner Byway" offers all kinds of interesting activities from photo ops to history lessons to scenic byways and much more.
  • Check the weather at Fly Geyser right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Southeastern Nevada

nevada travel and photography guidePhoto by bluebeat76 via iStock 

While southeastern Nevada is best known for Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, there are plenty of other must-see locales that are worth your time as a photographer.

In fact, there are gorgeous vistas, beautiful lakes, stunning canyons, and other landscape features in this part of the state that make it a veritable playground for landscape photographers.

In this travel and photography guide for southeastern Nevada, we offer an overview of three top destinations for photographers, where you can stay, and a few good places to eat as well.

What to Photograph in Southeastern Nevada - Valley of Fire State Park

what to photograph in southeastern nevadaPhoto by LeoPatrizi via iStock 

One of the most photographed landscapes in all of Nevada, Valley of Fire State Park has over 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone formations that make for a beautiful subject for your photos.

Set amongst gray and tan limestone, these bright red sandstone formations look otherworldly.

Add to that a host of petrified trees and petroglyphs that are thousands of years old, and you have the makings of a photography spot that will keep you busy all day long. Just note that there is a $10 entrance fee and that the park is open from sunrise to sunset, apart from the campgrounds which are open 24 hours a day.

southeastern nevada travel guidePhoto by rickberk via iStock

Planning Your Valley of Fire State Park Trip

  • Where to Stay: The North Shore Inn gets very good reviews from guests and is budget-friendly with rooms starting at under $100 per night. It's also one of the closest accommodations to the park.
  • Where to Eat: The Inside Scoop has a menu of comfort food and their ice cream gets rave reviews.
  • Must-See Attractions: The park's Visitor Center is a must-see, with exhibits on the area's ecology, geology, and prehistory. Also be sure to check out the park's many hiking trails.
  • Check the weather in Valley of Fire State Park right now.

Get Your Feet Wet in Lake Mead

lake mead photographyPhoto by 4kodiak via iStock 

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the most popular tourist spots in Nevada.

But it isn't just for boating and swimming...

There are many areas on and around the lake that are certainly worthy of your time as a photographer, including the steep rock cliffs that line the lake, sunsets and sunrises over the lake's waters, and the nine wilderness areas within the area's boundaries where you can capture photos of plant and animal life.

Entrance fees to the park are $25 per vehicle, but the pass is good for seven consecutive days.

redstone rocks at lake mead national recreation area picture id477695421Photo by ericfoltz via iStock

Planning Your Lake Mead Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Westin Las Vegas Resort and Spa might not be the closest hotel to Lake Mead, but it's certainly worth the drive for the four-star service, impeccable facilities, and the amenities, which include a spa, golf course, fine dining, and more. Prices start at under $100 per night.
  • Where to Eat: Take a break from taking photos and head to Las Vegas Boat Harbor, Lake Mead Marina where you'll find various snack bars and restaurants where you can refuel for another day's adventures.
  • Must-See Attractions: Pipe Spring, which is home to strange granite and metamorphic rock formations, and the ancient sand dunes of Redstone (shown above) should be on your list of places to see and photograph.
  • Check the weather at the Ruby Mountains right now.

Sloan Canyon is a Must-See Nevada Photography Destination

southeastern nevada photography guidePhoto by Gromit702 via iStock

The Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area is a quiet, lonely place where you can certainly find some solitude to be alone with the beauty of nature.

With nearly 50,000 acres, the conservation area protects a variety of cultural and geologic features, including ancient petroglyphs that date to thousands of years ago.

In fact, the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site is one of the most important cultural areas in Southern Nevada, with more than 300 rock art panels and 1,700 individual designs created by native cultures.

historic boulder city picture id181054204Photo by LordRunar via iStock 

Planning Your Sloan Canyon Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The M Resort is one of the closest hotels to Sloan Canyon, and offers gorgeous rooms, tasty restaurants, and bars and pools for fun. Prices start at under $100.
  • Where to Eat: The Munch Box in Henderson offers quick, healthy meals and gets top reviews from customers for its food and service.
  • Must-See Attractions: Boulder City is just east of Sloan Canyon and offers many opportunities for recreation, including many parks, trails, sporting opportunities, and photo ops throughout the area.
  • Check the weather at Sloan Canyon right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above.

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


These Products and Services are Innovating Photography as We Know It

innovative photography productsImage Credit: bobakphoto via iStock

To say that photography has changed a lot over the last few years would be a huge understatement.

I mean, I'm not all that old, and not only did I learn photography using a film camera and a dark room, but it wasn't until my senior year of high school that I saw a digital camera in person, let alone used one.

Indeed, photography is a field that's constantly changing, and the innovations that photography companies are making are, in a word, incredible.

That being the case, I thought it would be fun to look at a few companies that have products and services that are thrusting photography into the future.

Excire Search & Excire Search Pro

One aspect of photography that's long-needed some innovation is in the post-processing space, and Excire has led the charge to do so.

Their Search and Search Pro AI Plugins for Lightroom are a breath of fresh air that makes organizing and finding your images a veritable breeze.

Instead of uploading your photos to Lightroom and having to tag all your photos yourself, Excire's plugins do that work for you.

For example, Excire Search has 125 keywords that allow you to organize your photos based on common subjects, like "mountain" as well as common features, like the predominant color in the shot.

That means that if you want to search your archives for a photo that has predominantly orange tones that also has a mountain in it, Excire Search will find it. Talk about innovative!

Excire Search Pro steps things up a bit further with over 500 keywords (and counting!) that can be added to your Lightroom catalog.

That means that your jaw-dropping photo of a sunset at the beach will automatically be tagged with "sunset," "beach," "orange," and so forth. Just think of all the time you'll save not having to manually tag all of those things!

Excire Search Pro also gives you the power to transfer keywords to photos already in your library, so those thousands of old images you have can be organized and easily searched.

On top of it all, the folks at Excire want to pay it forward, which is why they set aside a portion of the sales from Excire Search Pro to support non-profit organizations in the U.S. Not bad, right?

As if that's not enough, Excire was just named the Best Software Plugin by the Lucie Technical Awards. If that's not a great endorsement of this innovative product, I don't know what is!

Learn More:

Nikon Z7

Nikon might've been late to the full frame mirrorless party, but it seems to me that they more than made up for it with the Z7.

Introduced earlier this year, the Z7 finally brings Nikon into the mirrorless war in a meaningful way.

Just check out these specs:

  • Backside-illuminated 45.7-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
  • EXPEED 6 image processing
  • 9fps continuous shooting speed
  • ISO range of 64-25600; expandable to 32-102400
  • 493-point autofocus system
  • 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization
  • 3.2-inch tilting, touch-enabled LCD with 2.1 million dots
  • OLED electronic viewfinder with 3.69 million dots and 0.80x magnification

As if those flagship specs aren't enough, the fact that all of that is crammed into a small, lightweight (and beautiful) mirrorless body is just a bonus.

Additionally, if this is what Nikon put out on its first mirrorless camera, then just imagine what the future holds. Talk about exciting!

For more details about the Nikon Z7, read this in-depth review.

Formatt-Hitech 100mm Firecrest Ultra Ken Kaminesky Signature Edition Master Filter Kit

hitech ken kaminesky 1

Formatt-Hitech makes some of the most capable lens filters on the market, but their Firecrest Ultra filters are next-level good.

And what's so great about these filters is that you can get them in kits specifically designed for certain types of photography.

Take the Ken Kaminesky Signature Edition Master Filter Kit as a prime example...

Not only do you get three neutral density filters (a 3-stip, 6-stop, and 10-stop), but you also get two soft-edge ND grads (a 2-stop and a 3-stop).

hitech ken kaminesky

That means that no matter if you prefer to shoot traditional landscapes or long exposures, architecture or cityscapes, you'll have the filters you need to get the job done.

What's more, since these filters are crafted to have the utmost clarity and the lowest possible reflectivity, you get superb results each time.

That's thanks to Formatt-Hitech's innovative secondary lap and polish process that ensures flatness and consistency for improved image quality.

This particular kit also comes with a filter holder, adapter or step rings, and a polarizing filter as well. It's the complete package for photographers that want to step up their game to produce the best-quality images possible.

Learn More:

SIRUI SR-Series Tripods

There's a ton of great tripods out there for photographers of all types, but if you're a professional photographer, SIRUI's new SR-Series of tripods is certainly worth a look.

I've used Sirui tripods for years now, and I can say that they are among the best I've ever had.

Their SR-Series is no exception, with eye-popping features to back up the legendary SIRUI name.

Consider these specifications:

  • 55-pound weight capacity
  • Maximum height of 80 inches with optional 2-stage center column
  • 1/2-turn twist leg lock system
  • 3-position leg angle mechanism
  • Flat top plate with 3/8-inch mounting screw
  • Integrated 75mm bowl

And that's just the start!

There are three models in the SR-series, each seemingly better than the last.

The SR-3204 is a particular favorite of mine because it's made of lightweight carbon fiber, has four leg sections, an integrated bubble level, anti-slip warmers, and rubber and stainless steel spiked feet.

This tripod also compacts down to 21.4-inches, that way you can carry it more easily.

SIRUI has really thought of everything with these tripods, and the price is certainly worth admission!

Read an in-depth review of the SIRUI SR-Series tripods.

Acratech GP Ball Head

acratech gp 1

Of course, a great tripod needs a great ball head, and if you ask me, Acratech makes the best ball heads in the business.

One of the reasons why Acratech is so popular is because they manage to keep innovating their products as the years go by.

The GP Ball Head is no exception...

This rig is incredibly versatile, with the capability of being used as a gimbal, a leveler, and for smooth panning shots, too.

acratech gp 2

The GP will hold a whopping 25 pounds, so even if you've got a big DSLR and a big lens, you needn't worry about the GP's ability to give you the best performance.

There's an integrated bullseye level for helping you remain parallel with the horizon, a double-speed knob, and a quick-release clamp for when time is of the essence.

Acratech has also included a detent pin to keep the plate and your camera in one place.

All that in a package that weighs just one pound!

Learn More:

Click Props Backdrops

You might be wondering how photography backdrops can be updated or innovated, but you might be surprised.

These are heavy duty, wrinkle free, matte finish, walk-on with Stiletto heels, get ‘em dirty (like REALLY DIRTY), wipe-down, mop-up, light weight, take ‘em anywhere VINYL Backdrops!

click props heels

In the right hands, plain old backdrops can be turned into an innovative and exciting segment of the photography industry, and that's exactly what Click Props Backdrops is doing.

For starters, they have an incredible array of designs - hundreds in fact - so no matter the look you're trying to achieve, they've got a backdrop for you.

And don't think that the only advantage of buying a Click Props Backdrop is in the selection...

Instead, Click Props Backdrops has managed to meet high-quality standards while keeping their prices low.

That means that you can get a high-quality, realistic-looking backdrop that's durable, hangs beautifully, and is easy to clean, all without breaking the bank.

The 550gsm vinyl will hold up against the daily uses and abuses of portrait photography while the 12 reinforced grommets that line the top of the backdrop ensure that it hangs flat. Not into grommets? Use your clamps, put them on a roller or try their easy to use magnet system, Magnefix!

Is making great products innovative? Not necessarily. But if you want to be on the forefront of portrait photography, you better take a good, hard look at Click Props Backdrops!

Learn more about Click Props Backdrops.

Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo

Photo by Brandon Burk

Not a lot of photography products can claim that they can completely change how you approach taking photos, but the Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo sure can.

I've had a Holdfast MoneyMaker Dual Camera Harness for several years now, and it is a fantastic product. My only complaint is that it can't be used with just one camera.

Well, Holdfast solved that problem in their usual fine-crafted way with the single-camera MoneyMaker Solo.

Not only is this thing gorgeously made out of a single full-grain leather hide, but it's also incredibly functional, too.

Photo by Brandon Burk

The stabilizer strap keeps the Solo right where you want it, while the big, contoured shoulder pad keeps fatigue at bay.

The best part of this strap, though, is the innovative Belt Anchor, which keeps your camera in the same position next to your body no matter if you're standing, sitting, stooping, or running around like a wild person.

Even better, the Belt Anchor can be detached and reattached with one hand, so you can keep your camera safe without worrying about missing a shot.

That's not a bad combination of features if you ask me!

Learn More:

Peak Design Travel Line 45L Camera Bag

The Travel Line 45L Camera Bag is not any old camera bag. In fact, I'm not sure if calling it a camera bag will suffice. It's more of a complete travel system.

I mean, one look at the graphic above, and you begin to get a feel for how photographers will carry their gear in the future.

Peak Design has thought of everything, from the pickpocket-resistant zippers to the weatherproofing from top to bottom. The shell was even made in an environmentally friendly manner. Nice!

There's tons of handles on this thing, that way you can pick it up no matter which end is up.

The shoulder straps and waist belt are all nicely padded, and they all stow away in case you're checking your bag. After all, you don't want your straps getting torn off!

Inside is a photographer's dream with a wide-mouth opening so you can actually see everything inside the bag.

There's a dedicated organization panel to keep all your gear nice and neat, too.

Add in an expansion zipper that adds 10 liters of extra space, dual side-access panels for easy gear retrieval, and a variety of pouches and cubes to keep your gear safe and organized, and you have the makings for a bag that seems like it's from 3018, not 2018!

Get all the specs on the Peak Design Travel Line 45L here.

CanvasHQ 

canvashq 1

When I think of ways to upgrade one's photography experience, I immediately think of CanvasHQ.

I've been a customer of these guys for a good, long while now, and that's because they have proven to be a reliable source of high-quality canvas prints.

What I appreciate the most about CanvasHQ is their commitment to the process of printing and finding ways to improve upon it.

And if you ask me, they have certainly done so.

canvashq 2

CanvasHQ uses only the highest-quality materials, from commercial-grade inks to high-end fine-art canvas to kiln-dried, handmade frames. I mean, have a look at my most recent purchase from these guys and tell me that the quality isn't top-notch!

Apart from the quality, you can't dismiss the fact that the CanvasHQ crew has excellent customer service. If you have a question, a real-life human will answer the phone. If you aren't in love with your print, CanvasHQ will make it again or refund your money within 30 days of purchase.

On top of that, they have lightning-fast turnaround times - I often get my prints within three days of my order.

If that's not bringing innovation to photography, I don't know what is!

Learn More:

iMovR Lander Treadmill Desk

When talking about innovation in the photography industry, that discussion cannot be complete without mentioning iMovR.

This is a company that's reinventing how photographers, other creatives, and all workers in general can get their daily tasks done.

I have their Lander Treadmill Desk, and I can tell you with the utmost confidence that getting that desk has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

The fact that it allows me to tackle my daily activities while sitting, standing or walking on a treadmill has allowed me to stave off negative effects like lower back pain while also getting in a little exercise over the course of the day.

Aside from the health benefits you get from being able to work in various positions, iMovR offers a multitude of choices that allows you to customize your desk.

Choose from 16 different colors for the desktop, three different colors for the base, and various widths that range from 41-inches to 83-inches.

The desk comes equipped with a smooth electric lift that raises and lowers the desk, and you can program four favorite heights into the control paddle for ease of use. You can even raise or lower the desk using a smartphone app!

It even comes with a health coach to remind you when it's time to change position.

In a word, this desk is incredible. Click here for a detailed review of my experience with the iMovR Lander Treadmill Desk.



We Recommend


Top Ball Heads of 2020

top ball heads of 2020

I've tested a ton of ball heads over the years. Some have been wholly unimpressive. Others have been just fine. But a few have been absolutely outstanding for a variety of reasons.

In this ball head buying guide, I present ten of the best ball heads money can buy.

The ball heads on this list have distinct benefits that make them among the top ball heads of 2020.

Acratech GP 

The Acratech GP has been my primary ball head for over a decade. It's proven it's longevity with a rugged design that's tough enough to stand up to the rigors of daily use.

This thing is built like a tank, but doesn't behave like one. By that, I mean that even though it can withstand a bomb blast (figuratively speaking, of course!) it offers super fine and delicate control that gives you the smooth, precise adjustments you demand.

Back in the day when I used big, heavy gear like my Nikon D850, an L-bracket, and a 70-200mm lens, I marveled at the Acratech GP's ability to maintain its precise movements. Of course, now that I've got a much lighter kit in the Canon EOS R, the GP ball head is more than enough to handle the load.

I personally use the red version, which is one of 20 made by Acratech. It doesn't have any functions beyond the black one, but it sure does look cool!

Basic Specs:

  • Compatible with many quick-release plates
  • 25-pound load capacity
  • Quick-release lever
  • Fits all standard tripods

Learn more about the Acratech GP ball head

Colorado Tripod Company Highline Mini

colorado tripod company highline mini

One of the ball heads that has surprised me the most in recent years in this little guy, the Colorado Tripod Company Highline Mini.

The funny thing is that this company has been sending me their ball heads to review, and when this one arrived, I didn't look at the details - I just started using it.

And after using it, I thought it would be something that retailed for $60-80 based on its build quality and features.

However, when I was on the phone with these guys to give them my feedback, the subject of price came up, and I was shocked to learn it's a $20 ball head.

Not only is this ball head incredibly affordable, but it's a perfect size that fits on top of my SwitchPod tripod. It's also super strong and does the job great with my Canon EOS M6 Mark II and my Canon EOS R.

Basic Specs:

  • Universal knob clamp
  • Integrated bubble level
  • Panning knob
  • Laser engraved degree markings

Learn more about the Colorado Tripod Company Highline Mini ball head

Colorado Tripod Company Highline Medium Ball Head

colorado tripod company highline medium

Whereas the Highline Mini ball head described above is the ideal companion for running and gunning, I've found the Colorado Tripod Company Highline Medium ball head to be the perfect addition to my home studio.

I use this ball head with Colorado Tripod Company's lever clamp (which is compatible with L-brackets and Arca-compatible plates) when I'm doing overhead shots in my studio.

best ball heads

There is a distinct clicking noise that tells me that it's 100-percent locked in, that way I have peace of mind that my camera isn't going to come crashing down on my head as I record.

Like the Mini, this ball head also really impresses with its build quality and durability.

Basic Specs:

  • Universal knob clamp
  • Drop-in window 
  • Dedicated friction control
  • Independent locking and panning knobs

Learn more about the Colorado Tripod Company Highline Medium ball head

ProMediaGear Sputnik

promediagearsputnik 1

I use ProMediaGear tripods as two of my main rigs, and they are hugely impressive.

Given their performance, I wanted to try ProMediaGear's Sputnik ball head, and it certainly hasn't disappointed...

When this first came to me to review, my first impression was "Wow...this is really different."

As you can see in the images above and below, it's design is different from the other ball heads on this list. It includes a huge knob on the side that makes it really easy to make fine adjustments.

promediagearsputnik 2

It should jump out at you just how big this ball head is. This isn't something you'd throw in your backpack for a quick jaunt to the woods!

But, the engineering of this thing is off the charts. The incredibly smooth motion is a joy, and the durable construction is a bonus too.

Basic Specs:

  • Large knob makes locking the ball and leveling super easy
  • 90-degree tilt capabilities in all directions
  • C60 knob clamp

Learn more about the ProMediaGear Sputnik ball head

VanGuard Alta BH-300

vanguard alta

Vanguard is probably better known for their outstanding tripods, but the ALTA BH-300 ball head deserves some love as an excellent option for photographers of all kinds.

The aluminum alloy construction makes it strong and durable, yet lightweight and easy to pack for quick trips.

It has a large lever lock for ease of use as well as ergonomic friction control and precision locking to get the ball head in the perfect position for the shot.

With three independent knob adjustments, you get micro-level fine tuning as well.

Add in a universal Arca-type quick release system, a built-in safety pin, and quick adjustments 360-degrees around, and you have the makings of a top ball head option for 2020.

Basic Specs:

  • 66-pound payload
  • 2 bubble levels
  • Independent panning lock

Learn more about the Vanguard ALTA BH-300 ball head

Sirui K-40X Ball Head

sirui k 40x

What I like about the SIRUI K-40x ball head is that it exists at the intersection of quality construction and good value.

There are plenty of ball heads that are less expensive, but this one does a great job of giving you high performance without a huge price tag.

It offers a 360-degree panoramic function for ease of use and an Arca-Swiss type mount.

You'll find that each knob on this ball head is extremely easy to use while offering extremely effective locking. Yet, there is a gradual release of pressure on the ball so making fine adjustments is easy without losing all the grip.

Basic Specs: 

  • Integrated bubble level
  • Vertical and radial axes
  • Safety button to prevent quick-release plate from disengaging

Learn more about the SIRUI K-40x

Manfrotto 057 Ball Head

manfrotto 057

Make no mistake - this is a huge ball head.

With a 65mm ball, this is one of the bigger ball heads on this list. It's also one of the heaviest.

However, for its size and bulk, it sure is a dream to use...

The action of the ball head is extremely smooth, and with lever-type locking knobs, you can much more easily tighten them.

This particular ball head has a top lock camera mounting plate. It offers Arca-Swiss compatibility while giving you a highly secure release method.

Though I no longer have my Nikon D850 and my Nikon 70-200mm lens, this is the ball head I'd likely use with that setup thanks to its robust construction.

Basic Specs: 

  • 3 bubble levels
  • Q6 top lock quick-release system
  • 90-105 degree portrait selector

Learn more about the Manfrotto 057 ball head

3 Legged Thing Eclipse AirHed 360 Ball Head

three legged thing airhed

One of the top claims to fame for the 3 Legged Thing Eclipse Airhed 360 ball head is its impeccable build quality. This thing can go toe-to-toe with ball heads twice the price!

This ball head can handle over 88 pounds of gear, so if you have a lot of gear, this could be a great option for you.

But despite the huge payload capacity, it's a lightweight option thanks to its magnesium alloy construction.

There's an integrated 360-degree clamp that's detachable, so you can get nice and smooth panning even if you're on uneven terrain. This ball head is also Arca-Swiss compatible.

Basic Specs:

  • Separate panning lock
  • Integrated bubble level
  • 1.4-inch ball diameter

Learn more about the Three Legged Thing Airhed 360 ball head



We Recommend


Video Accessories That are a Must-Have

video accessories must havePhoto by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Let's face it - photography and videography are becoming more and more intertwined with every passing year.

Years ago, I would've needed to carry a still camera and a video camera to get photos and video. Now, my Nikon D850 and my Sony a6300 fit the bill for photography and videography just fine.

So that got me thinking...

If a photographer wants to dive deeper into videography, what accessories would they need?

Here's my list of video accessories that are a must-have.

Editor's Tip: In addition to the physical accessories outlined below, if you're going to create the highest-quality videos, you need killer audio to go along with it. For that, we recommend Epidemic Sound as your source of the best tracks, albums, and sound effects. The breadth and depth of their audio selection is unparalleled and their prices are budget-friendly. Do a quick web search for "Epidemic Sound" to see what kind of deals they have going on right now!

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Acratech Video Ballhead

video accessories that are a must have acratech 1

This sturdy, lightweight tripod head from Acratech offers both pan and tilt action for video.

It has a wide range of motion that makes getting long, panning shots a breeze while providing your camera the stability it needs to get clear, sharp still photos as well.

It's a lightweight setup so you don't have to worry about lugging around a big, heavy ballhead. It can even be used as a long lens head or a panoramic head too, so it'll save you weight, space, and money!

video accessories that are a must have acratech 2

Additionally, this rig has fully adjustable ball tension control, which means it will not shift once its tightened.

You can use this head with any standard 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 tripod, and it's compatible with Arca-Swiss type quick release plates.

The ball has no oil or grease, either, so it won't attract dirt and debris that can negatively impact lesser ballheads.

Add in a 10-year warranty, and you'll be all set with this made-in-the-USA Acratech ballhead!

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Kenko Variable ND Filter

kenko 1

When you're shooting video on a bright, sunny day, you may well find that you have to close down the aperture - perhaps as small as it will go - to manage the exposure.

Of course, that means that the depth of field will be increased, which isn't the end of the world, but depending on the type of video you're shooting, you might want a beautifully blurred background that is best achieved by opening up the aperture.

To do so, you need a variable ND filter.

Not only does a variable ND filter block out light, thereby allowing you to open up the aperture, but it also allows you to slow down the shutter speed if need be. See what I mean in the video above by Jared Polin.

The beauty of a variable ND filter is that it's like having an entire ND filter kit in one nice, tidy little package.

The Kenko NDX Variable ND filter is an excellent choice because it is affordable compared to many other variable ND filters, yet doesn't skimp on quality.

It offers a brightness range of ND 2.5 to ND 1000, and since it's got a digital multicoating, it controls ghosting and flare.

What's more, where many variable ND filters produce the dreaded "X-effect," this one doesn't, so you get clean, crisp video footage with a beautifully blurred background.

In other words, if you want the best video, you need a variable ND filter like this one on the end of your lens!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Insta360 One X

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Breaking away from the more tradtional video gear for a moment, I want to extoll the virtues of my new favorite toy, the Insta360 One X.

I tried the Samsung 360-degree camera when it came out (I don't even remember what it was called). But what I certainly do remember is that it was terrible.

You can imagine my trepidation with investing in another 360-degree camera, but this time, there's not a shred of disappointment. This camera is absolutely awesome!

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For starters, it's so incredibly easy to use because it's tiny, fits in your hand, and has a standard tripod mount so you can slap it on a tripod, monopod, or grip.

Secondly, its dual f/2 200-degree lenses overlap to give you a true 360-degree product. In both stills and video, it gives you resolute, crisp, and sharp results.

The 1/2.3-inch sensor captures 14-megapixel stills and records 4K video at 50fps and 5.7K at 30fps. Paired with its crazy-good image stabilization system called "FlowState," this camera can produce silky smooth videos, even if you're riding a rugged trail on your bike, have it strapped to your dog as he's running around, or partaking in another activity in which the camera is bouncing around.

This camera also has a handy smartphone app that allows you to control everything from starting and stopping recording to editing to watching what you're recording in live view.

You can take HDR footage, shoot time-lapses, and even recreate the famous "Bullet Time" look from The Matrix. See how it's done in the video above by Shanil Kawol.

In other words, this camera is not only functional and fun to use, but its innovative features allow you to create some truly magical video.

Get an Insta360 One X and take your videos to the next level!

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Fusion Photo Gear FPG-1005 L-Bracket

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I always have an L-bracket on my camera because it makes switching from landscape to portrait oriented shots so quick and easy.

The problem with so many L-brackets is that they obstruct your ability to access the ports on your camera.

That's not the case with the Fusion Photo Gear FPG-1005...

This rig fits my Sony and Nikon cameras and has a patent-pending Tilting Bracket that affords me unfettered access to the ports on my camera by tilting away from the camera body.

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It's also got a deployable attachment loop on the bottom of the bracket which flips out so you can attach a camera strap. That's just not something you see on other L-brackets.

Speaking of which, Fusion Photo Gear tests their products like no other company I know of.

Take the deployable attachment loop for example. This thing was opened and closed on a special testing machine over 100,000 times, and after all that, there was no damage or deformation to it at all.

If that doesn't speak to the quality of this L-bracket, I don't know what will!

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Rode VideoMic Pro +

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A great video needs great audio, and you get just that with the Rode VideoMic Pro+.

This true shotgun mic is specifically designed for use on DSLRs as a primary mic and for reference audio.

It's got a Rycote Lyre-based shock mounting system that helps dampen unwanted vibrations that can negatively affect the audio.

It also has a 1/2-inch condenser capsule that results in broadcast-quality audio. In my usage of it, I've found that its digital switching is a Godsend because it helps this little mic capture the audio signal at the source, which reduces my post-production time.

What's not to like about that?!

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Motion VFX Visual Effects

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Adding visual effects to your videos elevates the production quality and gives viewers a richer experience when watching your video.

I use Motion VFX for my videos because they have a huge selection of programs with a wide-range of effects for just about any scene I can dream up.

What's more, Motion VFX is easy to use, even if you aren't yet a videography master!

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Lens Distortions Sound Effects

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You can't have awesome video footage, excellent audio, and cool video effects and not have equally good sound clips, right?

Lens Distortions has an incredible library of sound effects that will take your videos to the next level.

From bright and optimistic sound effects to melodic underscores to rhythmic beats, these guys have just about any type of sound effect you could possibly want.

And, like the visual effects I mentioned earlier, Lens Distortions makes it easy to get what you need and implement the effects into your video.

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Andycine a6 Lite Field Monitor

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When you're out shooting video, you need to be able to clearly see what you're doing, and you can do that with the Andycine A6 Lite Field Monitor.

It's got a big, beautiful 5-inch screen that offers ultra-wide viewing angles. The screen has a polarizer film screen that results in 30 percent improvement of brightness sensitivity and 10ms quicker response time, giving you the most colorful neutral performance.

This little guy also has 4K HDMI input and output and can transfer the signal to a secondary monitor or wireless video transmission system too.

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It's got a histogram and zebra exposure built-in, as well as an earphone jack, a multi-function signal input and output, and the ability to draw power from your camera, which means less cords in the way.

The arm tilts and rotates 360-degrees so you can get the best view of the monitor as well.

In other words, this little gadget is easy to use, full of features, and will help you get the best video footage.

Video Accessories That Are a Must-Have: LitraTorch 2.0

Just like you need high-quality lighting to capture a good photograph, you need high-quality lighting to get the best video footage.

Fortunately, you don't need a bunch of big, heavy, and expensive lighting gear to get that high-quality light that's so crucial for your videos.

I've been kicking the tires on the LitraTorch 2.0 - a tiny 1.5-inch square light that fits in your pocket - and I have to say that I'm uber impressed thus far.

This little light might be short on size and weight, but it's light output is an incredible 800 lumens.

Better still, its light is flicker-free and is cast in an ultra-wide angle so everything that needs to be illuminated is covered.

The LitraTorch 2.0 is as rugged as they come, too - it's completely waterproof and it's made to 810G military spec, so it's not like it's a delicate flower that you'll destroy with normal use.

This light is versatile, too.

There's multiple mounting options (magnet, standard 1/4"-20 mounts, or cold-shoe mount), it can be used for stills or videos, it can be used with GoPros and other action cameras, and it has a four-hour battery life.

This kind of light - and this quality of light - in a small, indestructible package is not a bad deal at all! See what I mean in my full LitraTorch 2.0 review.

Video Accessories That are a Must-Have: Kizoa

Of course, all this video gear is pretty meaningless if you don't have a way to put all those video clips, audio clips, video effects, and sound effects together...

That's where Kizoa comes in.

Kizoa is a cloud-based platform that gives you access to a wealth of video editing tools.

You can get the process started by using one of their professionally-designed video templates, or you can start from scratch.

Kizoa has all kinds of texts, transitions, and special effects so you can add visual appeal to your videos.

They even have a free iOS app so you can edit your videos right from your phone.

Sharing your work is easy as well, with options to email your videos, upload to social media, or download to your computer.

Best of all, it's less than $30 for a premium plan that gets you access for life. That means no monthly fees to pay over and over again.

When it comes to making quality videos, having gear like this is a must.

Just like with photography, it's not all about the gear, but being outfitted with the proper tools will only help you create awesome videos.



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