nomatic Photography Articles

10 Places to Photograph in Hawaii

10 Places to Photograph in Hawaii

 photo byEvan Austen via iStock

Hawaii is one of the most exciting places in the United States. It’s made up of 8 major islands, one of which is completely closed off to everyone who is not a native Hawaiian. So, it makes sense that this is an ecological paradise. 

While you cannot go to Niihau (unless you marry an inhabitant), you can go to Oahu (the island with arguably the prettiest landscapes and unarguably the most incredible Asian food).  

And, if you’re planning on making your vacation a working vacation, then you’re going to need some tips about places to photograph in Hawaii. 

Here are our favorite popular Hawaii photography spots; we also may have snuck some local favorites in as well.

Yokohama Bay at Sunset

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 photo byNalunani_Photography via iStock

Sunset Beach is overrated and I’m the first person to say it. It’s gorgeous, but it’s constantly flooded with tourists, which makes photographing the natural landscape incredibly difficult. 

Yokohama Bay is an incredibly well-kept local secret. It lies all the way on the far northwestern tip of Oahu, which means it will take you about an hour long drive through tropical forests to reach. 

Yokohama Bay is quite a long beach, which means even on the most popular travel days, you should be able to find a huge spot to stakeout for yourself. Plus, Yokohama, or “yokes,” isn’t featured in any Hawaii photography guide yet, so you won’t be fighting crowds even on the weekends. 

As is the case with most of Hawaii’s best kept secrets, there are very few photographs available online of this secret paradise. Thanks to Papahui Hawaii for the video about Yokohama Bay.

While you can photograph this gorgeous beach any time of the day, the sunset here is the best on the island. 

As is the case with most of Hawaii’s best kept secrets, there are very few photographs available online of this secret paradise. Thanks to Papahui Hawaii for the video about Yokohama Bay.

While you can photograph this gorgeous beach any time of the day, the sunset here is the best on the island. 

Plus, you can make an entire day of Yokohama and photograph the wildlife in the area, like the endangered Hawaiian monk seal featured in this video by BlueWorldTV

Pro Tip: There’s a hiking trail at the very end of Yokohama Bay which takes you to Ka’ena Point. During the winter months, you can find the world’s largest population of nesting albatross at Ka’ena Point, and during the summer months (if you’re lucky) you can photograph endangered Hawaiian monk seals resting along the shores.

Ko’olau Mountain Range

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photo by Teri Wertman via iStock 

The Ko’olau mountains are one of my favorite places to photograph in Hawaii because they are huge, which means there are hundreds of hikes you can take on them to snap a photo nobody else ever has before. 

The Ko’olaus are located on the westward side of the island, opposite from Honolulu. They also wrap around a small Hawaiian town, “Waimanalo,” which the locals refer to as “God’s Country.”  

While you’re out photographing the Ko’olaus, you can stop by any one of the farms located in Waimanalo.

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photo by Joshua McDonough via iStock 

A favorite spot for the locals is Waimanalo Country Farms, which hosts pumpkin patches and sunflower fields year round. 

As much as I love all of the flora and fauna that is local to Oahu, it’s always fun to read about travel tips for Hawaii that remind you of home, but with a twist. 

It’s definitely an odd feeling to visit a pumpkin patch in the middle of the Pacific, but an experience that is not to be missed. 

Editor's Tip: When I head out for a long photography journey, I want a camera bag that's bulletproof and can accommodate a lot of gear. For that, I've got the Nomatic Check-In. This bag has a lightweight polycarbonate shell that'll stand up well to the rigors of airline travel. It has TSA locking zippers, low-profile handles that won't get caught in luggage systems, and it holds up to 78 liters of gear!

Byodo-In Temple

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photo by Kirkikis via iStock 

The Byodo-In Temple was created to commemorate the first time Japanese immigrants came to the island of Oahu. It is a smaller replica of a nearly 1,000 year old temple located in Uji, Japan. 

After you’re done photographing all of the other places to photograph in Hawaii on this list, you may need a bit of relaxation, which is what the Byodo-In Temple is all about. 

The temple itself houses a 9-foot-tall Buddha, which is thought to be the largest Buddha sculpture outside of Japan. Despite the fact that this is not a practicing temple, you must remove your footwear before entering to show respect for the religion. 

The temple grounds are almost more beautiful, though. The temple is surrounded by a huge koi pond. You can purchase coconuts and trinkets from the tea house. Finally, the temple is located in a place called the “Valley of the Temples,” which also houses beautiful graveyards with intricately designed mausoleums and granite headstones for many wealthy Japanese families.

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photo by kcastagnola  via iStock 

Pro tip: I’m not usually a fan of using a Hawaii travel guide, but they do have one good tip: don’t forget your bug spray. While the temple itself shouldn’t have many bugs, the less populated gardens surrounding the temple (which are an absolute must see) will. Don’t let a fear of mosquitos keep you from banging the three-ton gong (which is said to bring happiness and a long life) or meditate in the pavilion which is open to people of all faiths. 

Any One of the Hundreds of Waterfalls

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photo by Marcel Fuentes  via iStock 

I could create an entire list of places to photograph in Hawaii of just different waterfalls.  

Some waterfalls are easy to reach, like Manoa Falls which requires a .8 mile hike along a well-maintained trail. 

Some other waterfalls are a little more difficult, like Maunawili Falls which requires a 4-mile round trip hike through a well-marked, but less well-maintained trail. Maunawili is for the adventurers among you because once you scramble through the slippery tree root paved path, and wade through a river, you can actually cliff dive off of the waterfall into a pool at the bottom.  

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photo by Don White via iStock 

Some waterfalls, on the other hand, are only for the serious adventurers. One of my favorite places to photograph in Hawaii is a series of 3 waterfalls along Ka’au Crater

But, Ka’au Crater will take you at least 6 hours to hike, and climb, and fall. There are multiple points on this trail where it is only a single rope tied lovingly by another hiker between you and certain death.  

Do you trust your hiking capabilities as much as your photography skills?  

Learn More:

Diamond Head Crater

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photo by Noah Sauve via iStock 

Skip the crowds at Waikiki in favor of this spot overlooking it. Diamond Headis a .8 mile trail along the rim of an old volcano that helped to form Oahu.

Of all my Hawaii photography tips, my number one tip is to get as far out of Waikiki to photograph as possible. And there’s not much farther you can get than nearly one mile into the air over it.

And if Waikiki is still on your places to photograph in Hawaii bucket list, then you can catch beautiful aerial photos of it like the one above from the top of Diamond Head. 

Shark’s Cove

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photo by BackyardProduction via iStock 

Shark’s Cove is not known for its sharks (although you may find some reef sharks if you know where to look) but it is known for its beauty. 

If you don’t know what to photograph in Hawaii, other than sea turtles, then this is definitely the place for you because it is one of the most likely places for a turtle sighting, but it has so much more to offer as well.  

Shark’s Cove has the best snorkeling on the island, which means underwater photography enthusiasts will have the time of their lives.

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photo by LFPuntel via iStock 

There are plenty of underwater caves, fluorescent schools of fish, and impeccably clear bodies of water here.

Editor's Tip: Traveling to Hawaii requires a multiple-day stay. After all, you can't appreciate it beauty on a quick trip! The Nomatic Check-In is the ideal bag for a multi-day adventure. It has a customizable folding compression panel to maximize interior space. It also has a full perimeter expansion zipper that gets you 12 liters of additional space. This bag is well-made, perfectly designed, and ultra functional. Just what you want in a travel bag!

Kualoa Ranch

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photo by maximkabb via iStock 

If you’re lucky enough to get invited to Kualoa Ranch, take the opportunity. Technically, the entirety of Kualoa Ranch is private property (although they do host a variety of tours through the more well-traveled portion of the land). 

Most of Jurassic Park was shot on Kualoa land, which speaks for the otherworldly beauty of it. 

You can see some of this beauty in this video by Devinsupertramp

Some places to photograph in Hawaii are a little more difficult to get into. This is one of them. Although, Kualoa Ranch hosts a half marathon every November where runners can trek through the backcountry of the ranch. So, if you’re really hoping to shoot here, you may want to start training. 

Lanikai Beach (and “The Mokes”)

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 photo by ShaneMyersPhoto via iStock 

Lanikai Beach is another well-hidden treasure on the westward side of the island. A little less than one mile from Lanikai Beach are a set of twin islands, called “the mokes” by the locals that you can kayak to.  

There’s a natural turtle feeding ground between the beach and the islands, so don’t forget to look down during your journey out.  

Plus, these islands provide an incredible spot for landscape photography shots that you would otherwise need to lease a boat to get.  

Pro Tip: After a long day photographing Lanikai Beach, head over to Lanikai Brewing for an authentic, island inspired brew.  

The Haiku Stairs

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 photo by SvetlanaSF via iStock 

This hike is technically very illegal. But, nobody said popular Hawaii photography spots were easy to get to. 

The Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven, hike is illegal because it’s incredibly dangerous. The stairs were created during World War II to allow military members to build a naval radio station on the summit of Puu Keahiakahoe. And, its nearly 4,000 stairs haven’t had many repairs since that time. 

Unless you’re planning on outrunning the 24-hour security guards at the bottom of this hike, or paying the $1,000 fine, you can do the legal hike on the other side of the mountain which brings you to the summit where you can then hike down some of the stairs to get those quintessential shots.  

Learn More:

Mermaid Caves

mermaid caves

Photo by Pono Lopez on Unsplash

One of the more popular places to photograph in Hawaii are the mermaid caves off the Nanakuli Beach coast. 

These caves, which were created by the steady erosion of lava tunnels, provide a photographer’s paradise. 

However, don’t get in if you’re not comfortable swimming in strong tides and make sure to check the wave report before you go out. People have been stuck in the caves during high tide and drowned.  

Planning Your Hawaii Photography Trip

  • Where to stay: Hilton Hawaiian Village offers 4-star accommodations in Waikiki, and depending on the time of year, rooms can be found for around $250. 
  • Where to eat: For fish straight out of the ocean as soon as your plane lands, head to Nico’s Pier for a delicious poke bowl. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the island's north shore is a must with nearly 30 years of happy customers more than willing to vouch for eating out of the back of a truck.
  • Where to fly into: Daniel K. Inouye Airport is the largest airport in Hawaii.
  • Where to rent a car: Enterprise, Hertz, and Budget all operate out of the airport.
  • Best luggage: For a trip of this length, the Nomatic Check-In roller bag is the ideal choice. It offers polycarbonate construction that stands up to the rigors of travel, silent wheels, low-profile handles, and a three-stage aluminum handle to fit your height. With space for 78 liters of gear, this bag has plenty of room for a 5-day trip or longer.
  • Best camera: The GoPro Hero 8 Black can go from the top of Kilauea to below the surface of the ocean and everywhere in between. Shoot beautiful still photos, crisp 4K video, and take advantage of tons of features like HyperSmooth to get stabilized footage.
  • Check the weather in Hawaii right now.

 



We Recommend


Best Camera Bags of 2019

best camera bags of 2019

Photo by freemixer via iStock

I'm fortunate to own many different camera bags. I test many, many more each year.

And this year, I think I've had more awesome camera bags in my hands than any year before.

On top of that, the bags that make my best camera bags of 2019 list are more varied in their design than any year before, too.

From slings to backpacks, leather camera bags to duffels, this list has something for everyone.

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Hazard 4® Pillbox™

best camera bags hazard 4 pillbox 1

The Hazard 4® Pillbox™ Modular Shell pack certainly falls into the impressive category…

To first address the different aesthetic; it’s due to Hazard 4’s legacy users. From special forces recon teams to expedition reporters, these are first designed to endure the world’s harshest jobs and environments. Cameras, accessories and survival gear are protected while patented modularity allows broad mission customization. Thoughtful sizing, organization, ergonomics, and unique functions, with 1000 D Cordura® fabric, YKK zips, and patented hardware result in the tough, futuristic design that now many enthusiasts also choose.

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From a comfort standpoint, the molded back-pad with removable belt is one of the bag’s best features. It’s abrasion resistant without chafing, aerated to ventilate sweat, and conforms to your spine for daylong comfort while padding a <16” MacBook Pro in it’s zip-compartment, that can hang hydration bladders too while the laptop moves to the shell’s other laptop holder!

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In terms of ruggedness, it doesn’t get much better than the lightweight, yet durable molded foam shell and internal 360° moveable gear padding. The shell’s six mounting detents host their patented Hardpoint® system which can be used to attach optional loops, panels, rails, bungees, lights, and other hardware to hold tripods, holsters, helmets, etc. And with military modular webbing (molle) and velcro panels throughout, the pack allows expansion of its functionality by adding i.d. patches and pouches/holsters as needed.

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This bag is also supremely versatile. Carry a laptop, tablet, camera system, and drone in the bottom, with clothes, food and first aid in the shell. Even weapons are retained for those who serve. A large admin organizer keeps your pens, SD cards, and tools neatly organized.

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The professional mil-spec looks make this an eye-catching and unique bag with all the functionality you need to get the hardest field job done in style; like a James Cameron future loadout but in 2019! In three colors from urban to desert, if you want a bag to accommodate lots of gear with carry comfort and patented modularity/security features while looking like a tough, tech trend-setter, this is the one for you.

Learn more about the Hazard4 Pillbox

Best Camera Bags of 2019: The Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

nomatic camera pack 1

Another camera bag that really, really impressed me in 2019 is the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon.

This pack was specifically designed for people that need to travel with their camera. It's ingenious design helps you organize your personal gear and your photography gear into a single bag.

As you can see below, there's a clothing side and a camera gear side that are separated by an interior panel.

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This beautifully designed "ecosystem" means you can travel with a ton of gear without having to rifle through a disorganized bag to find it.

Except...it isn't a single bag. There's a removable day pack inside (called a Cube Pack), that way you can run and gun when you need to. 

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This backpack can hold up to 42 liters of gear when expanded (35 liters otherwise), so there's no lack of space. And with a full clamshell opening, you can see all the gear you’ve stowed away with ease. 

The moveable interior dividers allow you to customize the space to your specific needs. There’s even a sleeve for your tablet, pockets for your camera accessories, and quick side access for easy retrieval of gear, too.

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For your personal belongings, you can use compression cubes for your clothes, compression straps to keep everything where it should be, and pockets for smaller items to keep things organized.

The Kickstarter goal for this pack was $100,000. It raised nearly $2.3 million. If that doesn't speak to the innovative features and quality of this bag, I don't know what does!

Learn more about the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Wandrd HEXAD Access Duffle

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This bag by Wandrd is the only duffel-type bag on this list.

And while I'm not usually a duffel bag kind of guy, Wandrd certainly makes the duffel something to consider.

After all, it's beautifully designed, extremely comfortable to carry, and incredibly functional, too.

It’s tough to beat a great camera bag as a gift for the photographer on your list.

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One of the best features is the enormous clamshell opening on the top of the bag. With an unobstructed view, you can see exactly what gear is where, that way you can grab what you need and get the shots you want.

The three organizational compartments help you keep things tidy, which is supremely important when the bag has a carrying capacity of 45 liters of gear!

Fortunately, despite its massive interior space, this bag is lightweight at 4.9 pounds and has a relatively small form factor at 9"H X 14"W X 22"L.

On the outside of the bag, you'll appreciate the weather-resistant materials, the high-quality zippers, the side camera access, and the removable backpack straps and camera protection.

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The exterior also features waterproof Tarpaulin and 1680D Ballistic Nylon with a WR army coating.

In other words, this bag has tons of capacity, huge functionality, and durability for the long-haul.

Learn more about the Wandrd HEXAD Access Duffle

Best Camera Bags of 2019: f-stop Sukha

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One of the first bags to impress me in 2019 was this bad boy, the f-stop Sukha.

This bag holds an astonishing 70 liters of gear, so needless to say this would be an ideal pack for a very long travel photography outing.

The Sukha is waterproof, so even if you encounter some inclement weather, you can rest assured all your gear and other belongings will stay dry.

And even though this is a monstrous bag, you can still easily find what you need.

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That's because f-stop utilizes Internal Camera Units (ICUs) that enable easy organization of a lot of gear.

As you can see above, even though I have the bag full, it's still perfectly tidy and easy to see what's inside.

In addition to that, this pack has a huge amount of padding that keeps your gear safe.

I also appreciate the fact that this bag has expandable zipper pockets on the side in case I need a little more room for gear.

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On the exterior of the bag are reinforced carry straps that let you add even more gear - like your tripod - to the bag.

And even when fully loaded, this bag is surprisingly comfortable to carry. The internal aluminum frame makes the pack nice and rigid while the EVA-padded Jersey laminate shoulder straps and hip belt help soften the load you're carrying.

The f-stop Sukha is just a well-designed and rugged bag that holds an incredible amount of gear.

Learn more about the f-stop Sukha

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2

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No best camera bags list would be complete without an entry from Peak Design, which seems to find ways to improve on their already incredible lineup of camera bags year in and year out.

Their Everyday Backpack V2 is certainly one of the best bags I've gotten my hands on this year, with new and improved features that make it more usable than ever.

Peak Design incorporated MagLatch hardware on the top of the bag so you can open it up and access your gear in a flash.

peak design 2

To expand access further, this pack has two side access panels that are secured by weatherproof UltraZips.

The shell of the bag is comprised of 100-percent recycled 400D weatherproofing so your gear stays nice and dry. There's also a handy tuck-away strap system that enables you to lash gear to the exterior of the bag to expand its carrying capacity.

As impressive as the outside is, the inside of the bag offers lots of goodies.

best camera bags of 2019 peak design

There's dedicated sleeves for up to a 15-inch laptop, numerous internal slip pockets for smaller items, and three configurable FlexFold dividers to help keep your gear organized.

Of course, the FlexFold dividers also help protect your gear by keeping it neatly organized and separated from one another.

The Everyday Bag V2 is available in 20 liter and 30 liter sizes so you can select the right fit for your needs.

Either way, you'll end up with one of the best bags of 2019!

Learn more about the Everyday Backpack V2 20 Liter or 30 Liter versions

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling-Pack

hazard 4 freelance

Rarely do you encounter camera bags described as “tactical,” but in this case, the rank definitely fits the Hazard 4® Freelance™ Photo Sling-Pack.

Hazard 4® designs exceed military specs, so these are trusted by demanding users in the harshest environments - special forces to expedition reporters. Thoughtful sizes, organization, and ergonomics, with 1000 D Cordura® fabric, YKK zips, and patented hardware protect cameras, accessories and survival gear in a futuristic aesthetic that deflects harsh use.

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You can cleverly rotate Freelance™ from back to chest for quick gear access without taking it off. Sized for most mirrorless systems with movable padded dividers to organize lenses and accessories, it’s also made in a Drone Edition with special dividers and “Drone Pilot” patch on its velcro I.D. panel.

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Three exterior pockets fit extra gear. A sweat managing thermo-molded zip back panel cradles 10.5” iPads®. An admin panel organizes pens and SD cards, among other small items. A molded shell fits two Mavic® Pro batteries and has a patented Hard Point® bus for attaching Hazard 4® systems loops and tie-downs or GoPros® via a ¼-20 screw.

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Modular webbing (molle) throughout allows exterior gear expansion. A patented roto-lock buckle prevents drops. Add grab-handles, tripod/compression straps, and more for the makings of one killer camera bag for active photographers!

Learn more about the Hazard 4® Freelance

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Peak Design Travel Backpack

What I like most about the Peak Design Travel Line Backpack 45L is that it has a modular design that allows you to customize the bag to fit your specific needs.

There's a zippered panel that divides the bag into two compartments - one for camera gear and one for personal items.

But if you're in need of tons of gear (or tons of personal items), you can unzip the divider and have one large space for storage.

Don't think that having all that storage space means your stuff will be all jumbled up...

peak design travel backpack

Peak Design has a wide range of optional packing tools that extend the functionality of this bag.

You can get packing cubes for your clothes, a was cube for toiletry items, shoe cubes to keep the dirty bottoms of your shoes contained, and, of course, cubes for your camera gear as well.

Furthermore, there's four mesh zippered pockets on the front of the bag and a host of internal pockets to further your organizational abilities.

Another neat feature is that this bag has rigid sidewalls. Not only does that aid in protecting your gear but it also helps the bag retain its shape, even if it's empty.

When it's full of gear (or when you need to load up), you can do so from the access panel on the back of the bag, the top, or from the side access panels.

I love the weatherproof construction (even the zippers are weatherproof), the abundance of exterior handles for easy grabbing, and the ability to expand from 30 liters to 45 liters. With all that, you have the makings of one of the best camera bags of 2019!

Learn more about the Peak Design Travel Line Backpack

Best Camera Bags of 2019: HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

I don't often use sling bags, but I can tell you that this bad boy has made me a sling bag fan.

One look at the specs on this thing, and you'll understand why I think so highly of it...

What strikes you immediately is the small form factor of the bag.

It weighs only 1.3 pounds and is 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H. Though it's rated at 8 liters, I could fit everything from my 10L Peak Design bag into the HEX bag, no problem. There is no wasted space in this thing, so the manner in which it was designed gives you the utmost efficiency of space.

Additionally, this bag hugs your body, so it's a carrying experience unlike any other I've ever had with a sling bag - it stays in place and doesn't bounce around or knock into things as some lesser sling bags tend to do.

The outside of the bag features adjustable load straps and adjustable bottom carry straps, so I can easily add my Peak Design tripod to the bottom of the bag when need be.

There's a front access organizer for small things like batteries or memory cards and a faux fur lined pocket on the front where you can keep your phone. There are multiple stash pockets too.

Inside, one of the best features is the collapsible interior dividers.

The dividers can be folded up or even removed so you can truly customize the bag to suit your needs.

My setup includes a Nikon Z7 with a lens attached, an additional lens, and filters, and there's plenty of room for all of it inside the bag.

The HEX Ranger is just a great looking bag that's well-thought-out and beautifully crafted. If you're in the market for a new sling bag, give this one strong consideration!

Learn more about the HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Holdfast Roamographer

One of the best leather bags on the market today is without a doubt the Holdfast Roamographer.

There's a lot of reasons for that, too.

First of all, the Roamographer truly does fit the bill for form and for function.

This bag is stunning to look at, with its handcrafted details and beautiful American Bison leather jumping out at you.

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Even the buckles, straps, handles, and shoulder strap show impeccable design and attention to detail.

Speaking of the straps, you can carry a tripod by lashing them to the bag via the straps, and carrying the bag is a joy considering the strap has a shearling-lined shoulder pad to keep your neck and shoulder as comfortable as possible.

You can even carry a small camera on the Roamographer's shoulder strap so that you don't miss any split-second shots.

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But since I like a utilitarian bag, what impresses me the most about the Roamographer is that it isn't just a pretty face.

Inside, it surprises you with a removable camera insert that's soft and thickly padded to provide your gear the protection it needs. It keeps all your gear nicely organized as well with various sleeves, pockets, and dividers.

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And since the insert is removable, you can use the bag as a weekender full of clothes and personal items when you don't need it to carry your camera gear.

With two large exterior pockets and two interior sleeve pockets, the Roamographer has no lack of storage space. There's even a large and small version for DSLR and mirrorless gear, respectively.

You can carry the Roamographer using Holdfast's excellent Moneymaker Camera Strap for the ultimate in utilitarian function (while looking good too!).

Learn more about the Holdfast Roamographer Bag

Best Camera Bags of 2019: f-stop Dalston Bag

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If you're in need of a smaller bag that doesn't skimp on high-quality materials and versatility, then look no further than the f-stop Dalston. 

This bag was designed with meeting the demands of the urban jungle in mind.

As a capable everyday bag, it not only offers excellent storage space but also has a sleek silhouette that makes it less bulky, which is ideal for photographing in tight spaces.

The bag is easy to access, too, with side-access pockets for quick grab and go.

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But don’t think that the Dalston is just for quick daytime adventures…

At nearly 19 inches tall and 11.4 inches wide, this bag can hold up to 21 liters of gear. That’s plenty of space for extended photoshoots in which a photographer needs lots of space packed into a sleek bag.

Add in weather-sealed zippers, a removable internal organizer for keeping your gear tidy, a Jersey laminate EVA-padded back panel, and Thermoformed EVA shoulder straps for comfort, and you have the makings of a spectacular bag for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about the f-stop Dalston

 



We Recommend


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


Peter McKinnon & Nomatic Camera Bag 3-Month Review

Peter McKinnon Nomatic Camera Bag 3 Month Review

If you're a photography gear head like me, you've probably heard about the Camera Pack from Peter McKinnon and Nomatic.

Spoiler alert...this thing is absolutely incredible from top to bottom, inside and out!

I've had my pack for about three months now, and wanted to give an update on how its held up, what I like about the bag, and what I'm not quite sold on yet.

In the video above, I give my complete review. Check it out to see this bag in action!

Below, I've hit the highlights of what I discuss in the video...it's just a quick summary of what I think are the most important things this bag has to offer.

It's Two Bags in One

nomatic camera pack 3

The Camera Pack is really two bags in one.

That's because there's a day pack built into the larger pack, which is about as ingenious as it gets.

You can pack a small kit in the day pack and head out for an adventure with everything you need while leaving the larger pack at home or in the hotel room.

It's a system that's perfectly designed for photographers that are traveling, that way you can customize your bag to your needs for each specific day or location. Nice!

Recommended Photography Books

It's Incredibly Comfortable

nomatic comfort

As I explain in my video, you won't believe how comfortable this bag is.

I crammed it full of gear - way more than I needed - and hiked up a mountain to see if the Nomatic folks were right when they said it was a supremely comfortable bag.

I have to say...they were right!

I had three camera bodies with extra batteries for each, multiple lenses, two large tripods, a drone with four batteries, filters...you get the point.

The measure of a bag's comfort is found when you load it for bear with gear, and the Nomatic Camera Pack definitely passes the test!

Organization Has Never Been So Easy

 

I've been accused on more than one occasion of not being all that organized.

But the way this bag is designed makes it impossible for me to not have my gear neat and tidy.

There are tons of compartments to store gear and there are movable dividers so you can adjust how the gear compartment is arranged based on your specific needs. In that regard, it's a modular system that can adapt...just what you want when you have different gear needs for different occasions.

There's large side access pockets and a huge clam-shell opening to access all your gear inside, so not only is your stuff well-organized, but it's also easy to access.

Learn More:

Build Quality is Second-to-None 

I'm a bit of a gear snob, so when I pick up a new camera bag, I look very closely at the construction. After all, I want something that will stand up to use and abuse for years to come.

So far, the Nomatic pack is firing on all cylinders...

It's got a water-resistant exterior that performed beautifully on my winter trip to Lake Tahoe.

Not only that, but the exterior held up nicely to being set down on rocks and in mud. My gear was safe and sound and perfectly dry despite the adverse conditions, and the exterior shell came away unscathed.

nomatic camera pack comfort

The EVA foam panels on the back of the bag help keep you dry too - they wick away moisture so you aren't a sweaty hog when you arrive to your destination.

I also appreciate all the handles all over the bag. Sometimes you need to grab and go, so having handles that are easy to access makes it much easier to get out the door.

The one caveat with the construction is this - it's so pretty that you feel bad getting it dirty!

Nomatic Camera Pack Review

nomatic pack

In my review video, I dive into the interior compartment of the camera in depth. Be sure to check that out to see just how functional this bag has been for me.

I've really enjoyed using this bag the last three months, and I can't help but give it as close to a 100 percent as it gets!

Sure, it weighs a ton (six pounds), but despite all that weight, it's incredibly comfortable.

Other than its weight, the only other nitpicky thing I can even think of is that the included filter holder only accommodates circular filters. Since I use square filters, the filter holder doesn't help me out.

But, that's a very minor detail, especially when you consider all the excellent features this bag has to offer.

I'll have another long-term review in a few months, but at this point, I have to say that this is one of the best camera bags I've ever tested!

 



We Recommend


Top 10 Things to Photograph in Iceland

Top 10 Things to Photograph in Iceland

Photo by HRAUN via iStock

To be fair, there's thousands of things to photograph in Iceland. Perhaps even more!

It is a country whose size is not indicative of the breadth of its beauty. There seems to be something spectacular and otherworldly in every corner of this tiny island nation.

But, as these types of lists often require, I'm limited to just ten things to photograph in Iceland. See my picks below, in no particular order.

Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara Beach Iceland

Photo by demerzel21 via iStock

Reynisfjara Beach has a couple of claims to fame...

First, it's a black sand beach, and perhaps the most famous beach in all of Iceland. The beach is located near the quaint village of Vik, which is worthy of a visit too.

Second, the beach is home to spectacular basalt columns. The columns look like huge stones that giants from a long-ago civilization placed along the shore.

Just be careful when you're visiting the beach to photograph the columns. This area is famous for big waves that sneak up on you, and at high tide, the columns might not even be accessible. Plan ahead, make sure you're there at low tide, and always have someone with you to keep watch for big waves coming ashore.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

seljalandfoss waterfall iceland

Photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock

Chances are if you Google "what to photograph in Iceland," Seljalandsfoss waterfall will be at the top of the list.

To say that this waterfall - which is located about 75 miles southeast of Reykjavik - is breathtaking is a major understatement. It is one of the best-known Iceland waterfalls.

This waterfall offers loads of opportunities for photos from many different vantage points. But the best one is likely from behind the waterfall, because you can look west toward the setting sun. The combination of the waterfall, the rugged landscape beyond, and the setting sun beyond that is stunning.

The mist coming from the waterfall is robust, to say the least, so if you fancy a photo from behind the falls, be sure you have your rain gear on (and protection for your camera too).

Learn More:

Kirkjufell

kirkjufell and kirkjufellfoss with northern lights

Photo by martinhosmart via iStock

As one of the top locations to photograph in Iceland, Kirkjufell is a major tourist spot. It's about two hours north of Reykjavik on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

This location has it all - a soaring mountain peak, the gorgeous Kirkjufellfoss waterfall, and the weathered Iceland landscape in between.

The mountain itself offers a strong, symmetrical subject to anchor the shot, and depending on when you visit, you might be able to capture the setting sun alongside the mountain. Sunrise is a nice time to visit as well, as the morning rays softly light the scene.

It's also a perfect place to photograph the northern lights!

Editor's Tip: When I head out for a long photography journey, I want a camera bag that's bulletproof and can accommodate a lot of gear. For that, I've got the Nomatic Check-In. This bag has a lightweight polycarbonate shell that'll stand up well to the rigors of airline travel. It has TSA locking zippers, low-profile handles that won't get caught in luggage systems, and it holds up to 78 liters of gear!

Vestrahorn

vestrahorn iceland

Photo by tunart via iStock

One of the most interesting mountain peaks in Iceland is Vesturhorn. It's also one of the most complicated Iceland photography hot-spots to find.

Located about 5 miles from the town of Höfn, the mountain is accessible via an unmarked gravel road. It's easy to miss, so pay attention! The struggle to get there is worth it, as you can see in the image above.

The combination of the pointed mountain peaks and the black sand beach below is quite fetching. Visiting in winter when the peaks are covered with snow that contrasts with the black sand beach is especially beautiful.

Adding to the visual appeal of this place is the tufts of green grass that arise out of the black sand. It truly looks like something from the set of a Star Wars movie!

The Blue Lagoon

blue lagoon iceland

Photo by Damlow via iStock

Located near Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is another popular area for tourists.

The geothermal hot spring isn't just for soaking, though. The intense blue waters of the lagoon make it a great photo location in Iceland.

As many folks do, you can enter the lagoon and take a selfie as you bask in its warm waters. But, if you don't have time (or don't want to pay to get in), you can also photograph the lagoon from vantage points outside the facility.

The blue water and black lava rock make for a nice color contrast in your photos.

Learn More:

Svartifoss Waterfall

svartifoss waterfall

Photo by alexeys via iStock

Though Svartifoss might not be the best-known waterfall in Iceland, it is certainly worth a trip to see it.

Located in the massive Vatnajökull National Park on the island's eastern side, Svartifoss is surrounded by beautiful dark lava columns. In fact, these columns gave the falls its name - Svartifoss means "black falls."

The falls is an easy 30-minute hike from the park's visitor center. The walk there is beautiful and the scenery at the falls is worth the time and effort to hike up there.

Try to plan your visit in the early morning. You'll miss the big crowds of later in the day and the golden hour lighting is tough to beat!

Editor's Tip: Traveling to Iceland requires that you bring enough clothing and other personal items for a multiple-day stay. After all, you can't appreciate Iceland's beauty on a quick trip! The Nomatic Check-In is the ideal bag for a multi-day adventure. It has a customizable folding compression panel to maximize interior space. It also has a full perimeter expansion zipper that gets you 12 liters of additional space. This bag is well-made, perfectly designed, and ultra functional. Just what you want in a travel bag!

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

FJAÐRÁRGLJÚFUR CANYON

Photo by Uwe Moser via iStock

While the name of this canyon might be hard for native English speakers to pronounce, what is not difficult to understand is the stunning beauty of this place.

Like many of the other must-photograph locations on our list, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon offers a gorgeous mix of rugged, rocky terrain and breathtaking water features.

Located right next to the highway about an hour east of Vik, you can easily get to the canyon, set up your gear, and start taking photos.

You can photograph the canyon from the base, or you can opt to head up along the edge of the canyon for a view down into it. Either way, you'll be greeted with spectacular scenery that looks like something right out of Game of Thrones!

Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

solheimasandur plane crash

Photo by Kesu01 via iStock

I'm an aviation guy (I went to pilot school), so a list of things to photograph in Iceland wouldn't be complete if it didn't include the famous Sólheimasandur plane crash site.

Located just off the Ring Road on the far southern edge of the island, the site is home to a crashed U.S. Navy Douglas Super DC-3.

The plane crash landed in November 1973 after experiencing problems in flight. The entire crew survived. The plane survived too - to an extent - and is now one of the top tourist destinations in Iceland.

The combination of the black sand beach against the bright metal of the plane's fuselage makes for a compelling photo. A visit at night during the northern lights will only enhance the beauty of the scene!

Gatklettur Arches

ARNARSTAPI ARCHES

Photo by Devilkae via iStock

The Gatklettur Arches are nearby the town of Arnarstapi on the western coast of Iceland.

The arches present you with many options for excellent photos year-round. This is particularly true when the northern lights are in full force.

As you can see above, one of the arches forms a nearly perfect circle. The other arches over the sea below, creating a symmetrical frame in which to feature the blurry movement of the water.

The arches aren't that far from Kirkjufell, so combine a visit to both locations to save time.

Háifoss Waterfall

HÁIFOSS WATERFALL

Photo by Belbaiz via iStock

When looking for things to photograph in Iceland, Háifoss Waterfall has to be on the list.

This huge waterfall is in the south of Iceland, just outside the village of Selfoss. And while the falls are certainly impressive, the gorge into which the falls empty is equally breathtaking.

This is not a photography location in Iceland for the faint of heart, given the massive drop into the gorge. If you have a fear of heights, you might skip this one!

The waterfall is 400 feet tall and is part of the Fossá River, which literally means Waterfall River. The water plunges past two-million-year-old cliffs as it descends into the gorge, which is surrounded by bright green plant life in the summer.

It's a certain must-see, along with the other locations listed above!

Planning Your Iceland Photography Trip

  • Where to stay: Hilton Reykjavik Nordica offers 4-star accommodations in Reykjavik, and depending on the time of year, rooms can be found for around $100. 
  • Where to eat: 101 Reykjavik Street Food has a a 4.9-star rating and offers authentic Icelandic cuisine. Klausturkaffi on the island's east coast is a must with a 5-star rating for its fine dining.
  • Where to fly into: Keflavik Airport is the largest airport in Reykjavik.
  • Where to rent a car: Lava Car Rental has excellent reviews.
  • Best luggage: For a trip of this length, the Nomatic Check-In roller bag is the ideal choice. It offers polycarbonate construction that stands up to the rigors of travel, silent wheels, low-profile handles, and a three-stage aluminum handle to fit your height. With space for 78 liters of gear, this bag has plenty of room for a 5-day trip or longer.
  • Check the weather in Icelandright now

 



We Recommend


Top Software and Gear Updates That Rocked 2019

Top Software and Gear Updates That Rocked 2019

photo byzeljkosantrac via iStock

It was a great year for photography, particularly on the software and gear fronts.

From camera accessories to post-processing software, camera bags to lighting gear, we saw tons of new, updated, and innovative products and services come to market in 2019.

It would be impossible to review everything that rocked the photography world this year, so we’ve done the next best thing and outlined more than a dozen of our favorite updates below. 

Luminar 4

skylum top software ai sky replacement 

I’ve been a big fan of Luminar going back to when it was called Luminar 2018. And when Luminar 3 came out, I got my copy and began enjoying it immediately.

Now Luminar 4 is here, and with a host of improvements and expanded capabilities, it is the best Luminar yet. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Luminar, let me give you a quick overview… 

It’s chock-full of revolutionary tools that help you create better photos, faster.

That’s thanks in large part to artificial intelligence that drives easy-to-use tools that streamline your workflow yet still give you pinpoint control over how your images look.

Joining tools like the Accent AI Filter and the AI Sky Enhancer from Luminar 3 is a suite of new AI-powered tools that take image editing to a whole new level.

skylum top software ai skin enhancer

For portrait enthusiasts, the AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer tools will revolutionize the way photo editing is done.

Using human-aware technology, the AI Skin Enhancer detects all the skin in a photo, smooths it out, removes blemishes, and does so while preserving the texture of the skin, pores, and hair.

It takes just one click to apply the Skin Enhancers edits, and then with a single slider you can adjust its strength for a picture-perfect result.

The AI Portrait Enhancer gives you a host of tools to quickly and easily make detailed changes to portraits, like whitening teeth and eyes, removing dark circles under eyes, and removing red eye, just to name a few. 

In all, the Portrait Enhancer includes twelve revolutionary tools that turn editing portraits into a process that takes a minute or less!

Luminar 4 has some goodies for landscape photographers as well. 

Primary among them is the AI Sky Replacement tool. 

As its name suggests, this tool replaces the sky in your photos automatically - there’s no masking or selections to be made on your part. 

The selection algorithms work so well, in fact, that it knows to exclude leaves, grass, and animals from the sky selection.

skylum top software sky replacement

Not only that, but this tool relights the entire image, that way the foreground matches the brightness of the new sky.

It’s advancements like this that make Luminar 4 one of the most powerful, easy-to-use editing programs on the planet today.

Need more convincing? Get Luminar 4 today and see for yourself!

Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

Gone are the days when you have to lug around huge lights to get the key light or fill light you need for awesome portraits.

Instead, companies like Hakutatz have developed powerful pocket-sized LED lights that give you the power to customize the type of lighting to your specific needs.

This particular light has RGB, amber, and white LEDs, so you can add accent colors to your photos and videos or dial in the ideal white balance by using the amber or white lights.

This light is completely adjustable, with controls for saturation, brightness, and color temperature. Better still, you can adjust the light’s settings via a well-designed and user-friendly smartphone app.

That means that with a simple touch or a swipe of your finger, you can fine-tune everything from the RGB color to special effects. You can even control multiple lights at the same time right from the app. No wonder their Kickstarter campaign was such a huge success!

hakutatz 3

Hakutatz literally puts the power to dial in complex lighting schemes in the palm of your hand, and does so in a way that’s clean, simple, and super functional. That’s by this little light rocked the photography world in 2019!

Be on the lookout for Hakutatz’ online store to have these lights in stock in December!

Learn more about the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

Hazard 4® Cyclone™

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Framing shots with your action cam in direct sun can be frustrating; glare in your eyes and the camera’s tiny, reflective screen are really fatiguing. Blowing sand, water or snow don’t help. But the best action is shot outside - Cyclone™ is the first real solution.

2

This patent-pending optic blocks the sun, but it’s lens also magnifies the screen and protects it. You effectively add mirrorless camera style composition and review to your tiny affordable GoPro or DJI action cam that survive where real mirrorless can’t. Better still, the viewfinder mounts to your action cam’s bottom screw in seconds, so there is no fumbling. But you’ll probably choose to keep it on since this little guy doubles as a tiltable handle - keeping fingers out of frame and for extension. With cheap additional hardware you can even head mount it for hands-free composition while biking, paragliding etc, and it tilts out of the way at will. 

hazard 4 3

hazard 4 4

hazard 4 5

The simple, waterproof, tough, design accordions flat for easy portability and flattened can be a selfie mini tripod. It has diopter focus - even helping out ageing eyes. The high-vis cap self closes to protect the lens. And you get a tether loop action cams don’t include.

hazard 4 6

Hazard 4® has a reputation for innovating outdoor photo accessories; the Cyclone™ is no exception. As usual they have gone above and beyond to design a multi-functional, easy to use bombproof solution to a common video shooter problem. Perhaps this may push GoPro® or DJI® to finally up the resolution on their LCD’s under magnification and drive the mirrorless wars into the action cam space. Either way, you don’t have to rely on the wide angle lens for your framing anymore- you can actually compose like a pro.

This device is currently on Kickstarter, with a fund date of January 7, 2020. Head over to Kickstarter now to learn more about this device.

The Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

nomatic camera pack 1

Billed as a “functional camera pack for all types of travelers,” the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon is certainly worthy of inclusion on this list. 

The Kickstarter campaign to fund this pack had a goal of $100,000. It raised nearly $2.3 million. That speaks to the reputation of Nomatic and Peter McKinnon! 

This bag is ridiculously well designed and has a functionality level that’s off the charts.

It’s designed to cure the woes of travel photographers who have to have one bag for their gear and another bag for their personal items.

nomatic camera pack 2

The Camera Pack solves this problem by having a clothing side and a gear side which are separated by an interior panel. This keeps everything neat and tidy so you aren’t rifling through the entire back when you need something. 

Better still, the bag has a “Cube Pack” inside, which serves as the ideal organizational module within the interior ecosystem. However, as the gif below shows, the Cube Pack converts to a daypack, so if you need to run and gun a little, you don’t have to take the larger Camera Pack with you. Ingenious!

nomatic camera pack 3

Overall, the Camera Pack can hold 35 liters of gear, but can be expanded to accommodate up to 42 liters of gear. That’s a lot of stuff! And with a full clamshell opening, you can see all the gear you’ve stowed away with ease. 

And everything is neatly organized thanks to a main camera compartment with moveable interior dividers. There’s a sleeve for your tablet, pockets for your camera accessories, and quick side access for easy retrieval of gear, too.

nomatic camera pack 4 

On the clothing side, there’s compression cubes for your clothes, compression straps to keep everything where it should be, and more pockets for smaller items.

This is just a really well designed and impeccably built backpack. And with the input of a photography expert like Peter McKinnon, you know that it’s been designed with photography needs in mind. 

Learn more about the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

GearFocus.com

gearfocus top software and gear updates 1 

If you buy and sell your used photography gear on places like Craigslist, you’re doing it all wrong. 

That’s because there are much better alternatives that take the hassle out of buying and selling used gear. GearFocus.com is certainly one of the best.

One of the top reasons GearFocus makes our list of the Top Software and Gear Updates is because they focused on building a community where people like you and I can buy quality used gear and get fair market value for stuff we sell.

Unlike other used gear sites, GearFocus doesn’t take a giant chunk of your profits when you sell your gear. Instead, they offer the lowest seller fees among B2C and C2C marketplaces, which means more money in your pocket when your item sells.

Additionally, GearFocus ensures each transaction is safe and secure by screening and monitoring every single post and transaction. Gear Focus was made by creatives, for creatives and they’ve been in this business long enough to be able to spot suspicious listings and red flags from a mile away. Without scammers creating fake listings, the buying and selling experience is enhanced so you can get the best deal on used gear and the most money for the items you sell.

Heck, they’ll even intervene on your behalf if something goes wrong! Having that kind of peace of mind alone is enough to land these guys on this list!

It’s not often that you find companies like this that prioritize community building and supporting one another over making a buck. That focus on customer service is just the icing on the cake for patrons of GearFocus. They are here to help FEED YOUR PASSION! 

Learn more about GearFocus.com

Litra Studio 

To say that the Litra Studio is powerful is an understatement. 

Weighing in at just 33.5 ounces and measuring 5.5" x 3.9" x 2.9", the Litra Studio is certainly easily transported without taking up a ton of space in your camera bag.

But don’t let its small size fool you - this light can produce over one million unique colors that will help you light up your portraits and videos.

litra studio 2

The Litra Studio can produce up to 3,000 lumens of continuous light and up to 6,00 lumens of flash. In CCT mode, you get 2,000-10,00K adjustable bi-color lighting with green and magenta color shift controls to allow for tunable blue and green screen optimization.

On top of that, this light is fully tunable and dimmable, and offers CCT, HSI, RGBWW, gel presets, flash modes, and effects, too.

The light it produces is clean and flicker-free at all shutter angles. The CRI and TLCI of 97 speak to its impeccable color accuracy.

Litra even made sure this light is rugged and durable. It’s waterproof, has highly efficient passive thermal management, and offers up to 20 hours of battery life on the low setting.

That makes this a go-anywhere, do-anything light that made huge waves in the photography world this year.

Learn more about the Litra Studio

GoPro HERO 8

While the GoPro HERO 8 doesn’t boast any major updates, it does represent a culmination of a wide range of smaller updates that, taken together, make it the best GoPro thus far.

In fact, I’d say this is the most innovative and user-friendly GoPro yet. 

It has built-in mounting pins so you can directly mount the camera to accessories rather than needing a frame to do so.

There are built-in digital lenses for multiple field of view settings from Narrow and Wide to Linear and Superview. The camera’s physical lens cover is not not removable and it twice as strong as those found in older models.

Also on the ease-of-use front are numerous capture presets that allow you to create and save popular types of videos. SuperPhoto, which is GoPro’s version of HDR, gets a refresh that results in improved image quality as well. 

The GoPro HERO 7 debuted incredible image stabilization with HyperSmooth, and the HERO 8 builds on that with even better results with HyperSmooth 2.0.

The HERO 8 also gets upgraded TimeWarp features, including an auto mode that uses sensor to detect motion and adjust the recording speed accordingly.

The camera also has improved photo-taking capabilities with face detection, smile detection, and blink detection functions, as well as LiveBurst mode for taking 1.5-second-long images before and after the shutter button is depressed. 

Add in built-in GPS, motion sensors, live streaming capabilities at 1080p, 4K video at 60fps, and a host of mod accessories to expand the camera’s capabilities, and it’s no wonder that this rig set the photography world on fire in 2019! 

Learn more about the GoPro HERO 8

Aputure 120D II

As far as studio lights go, it’s tough to beat the quality lights that Aputure puts out. 

And at the top of their lineup is the 120d II, a light I reviewed earlier this year and was very impressed with.

This light is 1000-watt tungsten equivalent, so you get plenty of brightness for your studio work. It’s fully dimmable, too, and has a CRI and TLCI of 97+. That kind of quality light is a must-have for discerning photographers. 

Aputure also included a variety of built-in lighting effects so you can dial in custom looks for your images. With this light, there’s nothing stopping your creativity!

But what’s really impressive about the 120d II is what’s “behind the scenes.”

It has an integrated power and control box, which keeps clutter to a minimum in the studio. Any studio photographer will appreciate that!

What’s more, it has an 18dB quiet fan, which keeps that annoying “whooshing” sound to a minimum so you can concentrate more thoroughly on getting killer shots.

Add in the fact that this light is 25 percent brighter than its predecessor and that it has DMX controls, a wireless remote, and excellent portability, and you have the makings of a top light for your photography studio. 

Learn more about the Aputure 120d II

Exposure X5

Exposure X5 is yet another software update that sent shockwaves through the photography world in 2019.

Its predecessor, Exposure X4, was highly functional, user-friendly, and super powerful, so it was hard to imagine how the folks at Exposure could make X5 better. But they did.

For starters, Exposure X5 has custom camera profiles that allow you to control how the software interprets color from RAW files. These profiles (created by X-Rite, among others) can be applied automatically by matching the serial number of your camera or by using the camera model. Furthermore, these profiles can be matched to a specific lens or ISO range.

You get advanced chromatic aberration correction in X5 too. This allows you to remove unwanted artifacts using lens profiles, or you can remove them by making manual adjustments if you prefer. 

There’s also a new fringe removal tool, so X5 makes getting rid of chromatic aberrations easier than ever before.

There are a host of other new features too.

Exposure X5 includes new complementary color presets, new season-inspired looks, and new light and airy presets that give you expanded creative potential when editing your photos.

There are more black and white film options than ever before, support for grayscale TIFF and JPEG images, and new image flip options too. Exposure X5 also has multiple language options, including English, German, and French. 

But for me, the best new feature in Exposure X5 is 3D color masking.

Basically, you can use this tool to make incredibly precise selections for applying adjustments to your photos. You can see it at work in the video above. 

This fine level of control is made possible by using specific color characteristics (hue, saturation, and luminance) to define the adjustment areas.

What this means is that you can quickly and easily target specific areas for color masking, like the sky in a landscape photo or skin tones in a portrait. This is all done with just a few clicks.

Exposure X5 is powerful, easy to use, and incorporates tons of new features that make it the best Exposure software to date. If you’ve never tried exposure, give it a test-drive for free

Learn more about Exposure X5

Holdfast Tanker Belt

I’ve been a Holdfast customer for a long time, and what initially drew me to them was the absolutely outstanding build quality of their products.

They use only the finest materials - things like full-grain leather and stainless steel - so when you buy a camera strap or harness or bag, you get something that is durable and will last you for years. 

But as the years have gone by, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the sheer innovation that these guys display when developing new products. That being the case, I had to include Holdfast on this list of the best gear updates of the year.

One of Holdfast’s latest products is the Tanker Belt, which changes the way you carry your gear.

It’s actually two belts in one, the first of which cinches around your waist like a normal belt and the second, outer belt, which forms loops for attaching your gear.

This ingenious design means the belt stays put (as do your pants) while maximizing the amount of gear you can carry around your waist.

There are three D-rings on the belt for attaching things like your keys or a wallet, and the D-rings are moveable, so you can customize precisely where your items hang on your waist. 

And, as you’d expect with Holdfast, this belt looks and feels like a million bucks - it's gorgeous handmade leather is something to behold! 

Better still, the Tanker Belt was designed with functionality in mind, so it’s compatible with a wide range of Holdfast products.

You can attach the Ranger Leash to the belt and take Fido for a hands-free walk, or you can add a cell phone pouch and keep your smartphone safe and secure and out of the elements.

Add a lens pouch or two (small, medium, or large) so you have extra glass for your next shoot too!

With sizes from 28-inches up to 44-inches and multiple colors (black, tan, chestnut, and burgandy), you can customize the Tanker Belt to your specific needs and tastes. 

Learn more about the Holdfast Tanker Belt

Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 Lens

I picked up a Panasonic GH5 earlier this year, and it quickly won me over with its astonishing video capabilities.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that I got to test out the Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 lens, and I have to say, I wish I would’ve gotten my hands on it a lot sooner! This is a fantastic lens, to say the least.

You can get some of my thoughts on this lens in the video above, but I want to expound on its features a little bit more. 

Make no mistake - this is a gigantic lens, especially for a micro four-thirds camera. Fortunately, it’s not hard to handle at all, and despite its footprint, it’s actually not all that heavy.

panasonic 10 25mm 1

But it’s massive size means that Panasonic was able to cram lots of goodies inside to help you get superb images.

This lens is supremely sharp, beautifully responsive, and gets you clean, crisp images each and every time. Its bokeh is buttery smooth and there’s wonderful brightness throughout its aperture range.

It has 17 elements in 12 groups, including three aspherical lenses and four extra-low dispersion elements which work to all but eliminate spherical aberration, distortion, and chromatic aberration. The result is images with impressive quality. 

But where this lens was a game-changer in 2019 was in its video capabilities…

panasonic 10 25mm 2

It’s compatible with up to 240fps high-speed sensor drives and offers silent operation thanks to the inner focus drive system and the de-clicked aperture ring.

The focus clutch is a nice touch as well, as it enables instant switching between autofocus and manual focus as well as improved accuracy when manually focusing.

With next to zero focus breathing, a micro-step drive system that accommodates brightness changes when panning and zooming, and Leica build quality, this lens certainly doesn’t disappoint! 

Learn more about the Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 lens

Sony a7R IV

When the Sony a7R IV was announced earlier this year, it set the internet on fire with news of its massive 61-megapixel sensor. And while the sensor is impressive, it’s just the beginning of the impressive specs of this camera.

Paired with a BIONZ X image processor, the a7R IV’s back-illuminated sensor is capable of rendering images that are beautifully crisp.

You get an eyeful of all that beauty with the brand-new UXGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder, which has a whopping 5.76-million dots of resolution for a clean, bright, detailed look at what you’ve framed up in the shot.

This camera has a native ISO range of 100-32000 for low-light shooting, and with 15-stops of dynamic range rendering, you’ll have no problem getting tons of details in the shadows and the highlights. 

Of course, the a7R IV carries on the Sony tradition of excellent autofocusing, with an ultra-fast hybrid AF system that has 567 phase-detect AF points to give you quick and accurate autofocus tracking. 

Throw in UHD 4K video at 30p, Real-Time Eye AF tracking, 10fps shooting, and a bevy of other features, and you can see why the Sony a7R IV was one of the best gear updates of 2019.

Learn more about the Sony a7R IV

Haida M10 Filter System

The Haida M10 filter system is something I’ve been testing as of late, and I have to say that I’m impressed with this system.

Like the other products and services on this list, I’ve found numerous innovative and unique features that compelled me to include this product on this list.

Haida is a great value for the money with well-built components that show an attention to quality and detail that many filter companies just can’t match.

I have multiple components in my kit - the M10 filter holder, a circular polarizer, a couple of solid ND filters, and a soft-edge grad (shown above) - but you can also buy complete kits of varying sizes, including their Master Filter Kit, their Professional Kit, and their Enthusiast Kit, if you’d rather go that route. 

Either way, I think you’ll find, as I have, that the Haida system is one that enhances your ability to get quality shots.

The aluminum alloy filter holder can accommodate two 100mm filters, but it can expand to include a third slot if needed. The Haida filters are made of shock-resistant optical glass and features 10 layers of anti-reflective nano coating and 10 layers of scratch and water resistant coatings.

The holder rotates a full 360-degrees, which is enormously helpful for getting just the right positioning when using graduated ND filters.

I also like the fact that Haida incorporated gaskets in the filter slots to help prevent light leaks. They even include a “dummy” filter housing that can be dropped into the filter if you’re shooting without the circular polarizer in place. Again, this helps prevent light leaks so you get a cleaner exposure. 

The pinch and pull system for adding and removing filters make using this system super easy, as do the rounded edges of the rectangular filters - they’re much easier to slide into the filter holder without sharp edges.

This is just a well thought out system for beginners and enthusiasts alike!

Learn more about the Haida M10 filter system

Sony a6600

Though the Sony a7R IV probably got more attention, the Sony a6600 is certainly not something to forget about…

With a much smaller price tag than the a7R IV and more applicability for more photographers, the a6600 rocked our world this year by bringing many flagship features to a mid-range camera.

Its 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor is ideal for capturing beautifully resolute images while the native ISO range of 100-32000 gives you excellent low-light shooting capabilities with reduced noise.

As I get more into video creation, I appreciate the fact that this camera sports UHD 4K video capabilities that can be internally recorded in XAVC S format.

The five-axis image stabilization is a dream, giving you five full stops of stabilization, while the weather-sealed construction means you can head out in adverse weather with less worry about what will happen to your camera.

With additional features like a beautiful XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder, a tiltable LCD monitor, 11 fps continuous shooting, and much more, this camera is certainly worthy of the title of gear that rocked 2019!

Learn more about the Sony a6600

RODE Wireless GO 

rode wireless go

A final product I wanted to mention on this list of the top software and gear updates is this handy little guy, the RODE Wireless GO.

This wireless system automatically pairs in just three seconds and transmits via RODE’s new Series III digital transmission system. It’s a 2.4GHz system that’s optimized for short-range operation, particularly in environments in which there is a lot of RF and Wi-Fi interference. It also offers line-of-sight range of up to 70 meters.

You also get broadcast-grade audio thanks to the built-in condenser mic’s superb isolation and transparency. Alternatively, you can use it with a lavalier mic using the 3.5mm TRS input.

Additionally, the Wireless GO system operates up to seven hours on a full charge, and since the unit is so small and compact, it’s super lightweight and portable. 

You can even use up to eight systems in one location if you have the need!

If you’ve ever used a ROD mic before, you know they’re some of the best in the business. The RODE Wireless GO is certainly no exception!

Learn more about the RODE Wireless GO

 



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