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Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

A few years ago I had the great pleasure to visit Iceland. I almost did not go when I missed my plane and the flight company could only offer me a latter flight at a more expensive price and I lost my money on the flight I missed. I bit my tongue and thought hell I’m at the airport now so lets just go.

Im glad I did as Iceland is an absolute travel photographers dream everywhere you go is something stunning in beauty and whilst in Jokulsarlon I caught a gem of a sunrise.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

How to earn a living as a landscape travel photographer

I’ve been working as as travel photographer for coming up to 5 years. In that time I’ve travelled extensively to photography and experience the world. Highlight’s included spending 4 months in Australia traveling in a camper van all across Australia, two long road trips across America visiting most of the States, all over the UK Scotland, Wales, England and many countries including Iceland, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Ukraine, Spain, Greece, Italy, Norway, Saudi Arabia and numerous others.

It’s been a wonderful experience, I’ve made many friends along the way and more memories then I can remember. The only reason I decided not to be a location independent free (i.e. just on the road full time travelling without a home) was our cats. We have 4 cats and I have my one ‘Snowball’ whom is the spitting image of the cat from James Bonds Dr No. Anyway I could not leave her for a full time life on the road.

But, anyway I keep busy and have friends look after the cats when we are away and still manage to visit another country or two each month. TBH travelling does not need to be expensive these days, I use the Sky Scanner app on my phone to find the best deals on flights and because I have very few ties I can pick and choose my flight dates very flexible to get the best deals. Then you can always go camping or use hostels for super cheap accommodation, although it has to be said I do appreciate a nice hotel. But then even that does not need to be expensive i.e. we stayed in a fantastic hotel in Thailand for nearly a month that was costing us £8 per day.

It would actually be a lot cheaper for me if I had of gone location independent as I still have a house to pay for, gas, electric, taxes, cars (I have 7 cars) and cat sitters etc etc but I still make a comfortable living from my photography that enables me to also carry on traveling frequently.. so how do I do that?

SMUG MUG

I sell my photos on Smug Mug and I also use them for storing all my photos. Smug Mug offer a channel for selling your photos, just upload to Smug Mug and visitors can order a framed print to there desire and Smug Mug handles it all to the point of sale and shipping then pays you your commission.

With Smug Mug you set your own prices and you get to keep 85% of the profits. Often I post my photos on social Networks like Facebook and get people asking to purchase a print. Smug Mug is an easy solution for giving people a link to your page where they can order your print.

500PX

I also use 500PX for displaying my best work and they also offer a marketplace where people can purchase a full resolution download of your work. 500PX don’t offer prints but is more aimed at people whom need a digital download i.e. for websites, editorial work, stock photography etc so fills the hole that Smug Mug does not offer. Commissions are good I tend to see $100 per image sold and when you get a sale it’s a simple job of having the money paid into your Paypal account or a cheque in the post if you prefer.

ADVERTISING – AFFILIATE WINDOW

I have my photography blog and other photography related web sites that I run and manage that I run advertising on for other companies that pay me a commission on sales or clicks produced to them. This is known as affiliate marketing. It’s a good idea to have your own web site to promote your photography if you don’t already and then I would suggest you join one of the affiliate networks. An affiliate network is basically a single web site that offers you lots of different offerings from lots of companies that is all managed on the one web site. For a good starting point I would recommend Affiliate Window, Over a thousand advertisers, ranging from blue-chip brands, such as Dixons, Boots and Vodafone, to niche retailers looking to grow their online presence.

Social Media is a great way to drive traffic to your web site or your 500PX and Smug Mug pages so it’s a good idea to build on your Facebook accounts, I have some 40,000 Facebook followers and near 4,000 friends on Facebook which is relatively easy to do so yourself and YouTube is great as they also pay you for showing advertising on your videos.

Good luck and I wish you the best of success!

Arizona rising

Death at the Opera Marta Beckets Amargosa Opera House

When we was driving through Death Valley in California we got to Death Valley Junction and saw a little hotel. So we popped in for a cup of tea and got talking to the lady working there. Now Death Valley Junction is a very strange ghost town and she gave us a wee tour about the hotel and started telling us all the ghost stories and the very interesting story of the ballerina Marta Becket and how she came to start her opera house Amargosa. Story was she was passing through Death Valley back in the day when it was a thriving town, took a liking to the town and hey presto started up her opera house.

Of course now Death Valley has become a ghost town since the mining came to an end and rail road stopped running. We got a wee tour of the old opera house and this is a photo taken with my Nikon D800. A 5 bracket shot with editing in Photoshop.

Death at the Opera - Marta Beckets Amargosa Opera House
Death at the Opera – Marta Beckets Amargosa Opera House

Sony A7R Cheapest Full Frame pro camera ?

The Sony A7R is a lot of camera for an extremely low price. When my Nikon D800 died for the third time I decided to make the switch to mirrorless. I had been tempted by the small form factor for some time and on paper the Sony A7R is actually a slightly better camera then my old D800 but minus the weight. Having done a lot of travel photography over the years with my D800 I was finding it cumbersome and I knew that I was no longer enjoying the experience of lugging so much weight around across country, the thought of having everything I needed in a much smaller, compact size was becoming much more appealing to me.

I was able to pickup one of the last A7R’s at my local Jessops store in Glasgow for £795. Which was an absolute steal of a price, and even against the newer A7Rmk11 I preferred the smaller A7R. I liked the fact the A7R had the electronic view finder which meant I had no worries of light coming in when doing long exposures and I did not need the extra megapixels of the newer model nor that extra price tag.

Ive always been a manual focus shooter and I loved how easy the peaking focus was on the Sony A7R and of course that meant I could use all the old and wonderfully cheap film lenses like the Minoltas.

Having now been shooting with the Sony A7R for a few months now my only regret is not making the change sooner, I know my last big road trip across South East Asia would have been so much more fun and productive if I had the little Sony instead!

For less then a £100 I picked up a few older lenses all of which I find a real pleasure to use and have produced some tremendous photos.. really can’t fault them at all.

Sony A7R Camera
Sony A7R Camera

How to get really sharp photos?

When a few years back I started shooting film again one of the first things that surprised me when using Photoshop to tidy up my film scanned photos was that I noticed there was very little to be had through sharpening. Unlike digital photos film is as sharp as a pin to begin with if you have good lenses.

Even with my Nikon D800 and the Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 (one of the sharpest lenses) you can still gain a huge amount through sharpening. Or also take a cheaper lens like the Samyang 14mm Ultra-Wide, apply some basic sharpening through Photoshop and your images can easily look just as sharp as the Nikkor 14-24mm.

If like me you put your work on social media like Facebook you will find that Facebook compresses your photos a lot. So with Facebook I will sharpen my images a little more when uploading to there and I find that works best.

So whats the best way to sharpen photos?

Theres actually a number of ways you can sharpen photos and as with pretty much everything you do within Photoshop theres always many ways to do that within Photoshop.

But the one which I tend to use the most and find produces the best results is Freaky Amazing Details. FAD, is one of the more complex ways but it’s well worth learning as does yield some great results. Check the video below to see how it’s done.

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