Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This Revolutionary Curved Sensor Skyrockets Image Quality Compared to Expensive DSLRs

7:04:00 PM

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Getting clear and sharp images in poor conditions has been an obsession of camera companies since photography was invented and yet another leap forward seems to have been made very recently.

This newly developed method for curving image sensors is delivering results well beyond its flat-censored cousins with Microsoft reporting that they have developed a prototype camera that allowed for higher resolution images than today's expensive DSRLs across the entire field of view.

photo by mario calvo

Now, the idea of a curved sensor is not new (Canon and Sony have worked on this in the past too), but the breakthrough here was that Microsoft's work has allowed it to have up to 3 times the spherical curvature of previous sensors. In previous work, the process to make those curved sensors… curvier… were not as successful.

What's So Good About That?

Well, with today's equipment, there is a lot of work put into the optical engineering of a camera to allow it to display something that can be interpreted by a flat sensor. Getting that image to a state that looks ok on a flat surface is quite a challenge and required the optical elements to be designed in quite a sophisticated manner.

This new method would basically greatly diminish the optical engineering gymnastics required for that and potentially greatly simplify lens and camera design. It could also possibly result in much much smaller cameras.

“We showed that you can take an off-the-shelf sensor, curve it and dramatically improve the performance of the optical system. This can be done with relatively low costs and effectively no downside,” said Brian Guenter, one of the researchers who published their findings in the journal, Optics Express.

The Bad News

Now, while this is a great advancement, it also comes at a cost for current photographers.

The bad news is that such a curved sensor is very unlikely to work with your current lenses which are designed to project images onto a flat plane rather than a curved one. There is also the potential issue that each lens would require a sensor with a differing degree of curvature ideally which throws up its own set of problems. So for many of us, who own tens of thousands of dollars worth of lenses, there might be mixed feelings.



How Will This Pan Out

Let's be honest here. Companies like Microsoft are playing for bigger fish than the DSLR market, so we would be likely to see technology like this in camera phones well before it makes its way to the DSLR or advanced camera market. Cameras with fixed lenses would also be easier to fit with such technology. That is not to say deals between companies can't be done, and while this is obviously a wonderful breakthrough, we still have some hoops to jump through before we see this widespread in the advanced amateur or professional camera markets.

Further Reading:

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5 Ways to Infuse Inspiration and New Life into Your Photography

5:08:00 AM

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Have you ever been frustrated with your photography? Have you felt like you're photographing the same subjects and your images are starting to look alike? Or, have you felt frustrated because you haven't been able to challenge your own style or find new inspiration? Trust me, we all have those moments. If it's for a few days, it's ok. If it's for a couple of weeks, panic can start to set in! How do we break the cycle?

We'll share some ideas on how you can ignite some creativity and find some new inspiration. Some ideas you've probably read about already and maybe even tried. If it worked, try it again. If it didn't, try something different. Let's give a few a whirl!

Go Crazy or Conservative with A Plug-In

Sometimes you don't have to step to far away from your laptop, workstation or smartphone to infuse creativity. If you have a go-to plug-in, are you using the same technique or are you trying new techniques (or recipes) each time? Plug-ins for Photoshop and Lightroom or Creative Apps for your smartphone have the potential convert ‘just another nice image' into creative artistry that's outside of your comfort zone.

Topaz, Google's Nik Software, Perfectum, Prisma and many others have different techniques that can be applied and modified. Subtile, simple, dramatic or intense – with plugins you're in control.

The two images below show the spring camellia with traditional post processing followed by applying techniques with my added modifications using a plug in.

Study the Masters – The Artists of Today & Yesterday

The painters, sculptors, photographers of yesterday and today had their own eye, their unique perspective, a special touch. You, as a photographer are an evolving artist as well.

Studying other artists is more than looking at their work. It's considering their use of color, patterns, composition and light. How did your favorite artists use texture in sculptures and carvings? How did the sketchers work with one color to create art rich with detail? How did architects use lines? How did the painters and photographers pull viewers into the eyes of their subject? There's a lot to observe and learn.

The artist Jan used composites of multiple images to create art that pays tribute to the late Georgia O'Keefe. Color, texture and contrasting subjects were joined to create colorful imagery.

Go Somewhere Different – Explore Photographers' Works Taken There

As a nature photographer, I long to be outdoors as much as possible. The idea of going inside to do photography work doesn't motivate me. To expand my perspectives, sometimes I join with other photographers to explore subjects outside of my comfort zone.

Before going out to photograph different venues, I set aside time to look at images created by others. The intention is not to copy other photographers or alter my own creative spin. It is to study what I'll be seeing in advance to maximize my creative time while there.

The images above and below were taken at the Detroit Opera House. Since we only had a two hour window, I searched Flickr and Google to get a feel for the inside. Once there, the fun began and continued through post-processing. Close ups, black and white, unique lines all combined to inspire a different eye and add something different to my portfolio (and Etsy site).

Turn Around or Change Your Angle of View

There are many times that by simply turning around, you may find something special and unexpected. This doesn't take a lot of work and planning. You're photographing a sunset? Turn and look to see what the sun is illuminating. Photographing a pier? Turn and view the city lights behind you.

Rent, Buy or Borrow a Different Type of Lens

I recently wrote a review on the Lensbaby Velvet 56. I had always purchased lenses with the intention of getting sharp images. This new addition was to force me to look at subjects and my approach in photography a little bit differently.

You don't have to buy, rent or borrow a lens. You may find inspiration by working with the f/stops that are outside of your standard range. If you have telephotos, try a prime lens or just sticking with one focal length for a period of time. This will encourage you to use your feet and further study your subject.


What do you do to infuse creativity and inspiration into your photography? A favorite trick? A post processing tool? We'd love to hear from you!

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Sheen Watkins is a bird, nature, wildlife photographer and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website. A long term birder and nature enthusiast she is Vice President of Saving Birds Thru Habitat, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating others about the importance of protecting our natural habitat for migrating birds. She also has a travel and photography blog.
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - May 30, 2017 at 09:17PM

9:18:00 PM


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Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - May 30, 2017 at 07:11PM

7:12:00 PM


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Google is About to Kill Support for the Nik Collection

6:18:00 PM

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Oh boy, this one is going to upset a few photographers. Google have slyly “announced” that they are about to cease updating the Nik Collection of software. Actually, it wasn't so much an announcement as the simple adding of a banner on the Nik Collection site that added, “We have no plans to update the Collection or add new features over time.”

Ouch.

If you're not already familiar with the software, the Nik Collection is a collection of software available as plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom etc that adds the ability to use some very slick effects such as better sharpening, HDR, some monochrome effects etc. It's actually quite handy and is a big part of the work flow for a lot of photographers.

The Nik Collection was started by a company that was acquired by Google in 2012. The product then went from being almost a $500 product to being a $149 product and then to being totally free in 2016 and its popularity exploded. Of course, the very popular app, Snapseed, was also acquired in that 2012 deal and it goes from strength to strength and was obviously a big part of Google's decision to purchase the company. “Mobile first” and all that.

At the time of the change from paid to free, Google even gave us a taste of the future with it's announcement – “As we continue to focus our long-term investments in building incredible photo editing tools for mobile, including Google Photos and Snapseed, we've decided to make the Nik Collection desktop suite available for free, so that now anyone can use it.”

This latest (non?) announcement regarding the ending of support for Nik software is going to leave a lot of very disappointed photographers, but highlights on ongoing issue for folks who adopt and rely on third party software as part of their post-production workflow. The sad fact is that a lot of third party plugins get discontinued for one reason or another leading to photographers having to make alternative plans with different plugins, remain on older versions of the parent software (in this case Photoshop and Lightroom), or simply abandon the plugins. Not really a good set of choices.


On the bright side, Google hasn't said it is retiring the Nik collection, so hopefully it will still be available for download indefinitely.

Read More About Google's Plans to Abandon the Nik Collection

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Time Trap Portrait Instagram Photo - May 30, 2017 at 05:17PM

5:17:00 PM


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Is The US About to Ban Camera Gear on Carry-On Luggage for Planes?

7:03:00 AM

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If you’re anything like most photographers, you probably keep a pretty close eye on your camera gear when you’re travelling. Keeping it close and in your carry on luggage for flights, in many instances, is the preferred way to do that for a lot of photographers. That might all be coming to an end in the US.

photo by The PixelMan

Following on from the US ban on electronic devices larger than a smart phone in plane cabins from 8 Muslim countries, news has recently come out that the secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, is considering expanding the ban to all countries and all flights into or out of the US.

For many photographers who don’t want to check their camera gear in the notoriously roughly treated an insecure check in luggage systems of most airlines, this could pose quite a problem. So too, at least one airline group has raised concerns regarding putting a lot of lithium-ion batteries in the hold of an aircraft (where presumably fire without the ability to fight it could be an increased problem).

Now, most of the rhetoric seems to have more to do with banning laptops from the cabin of such flights, but the specific language regarding any electronic device larger than a cell phone also encompasses a lot of camera gear among other things such as iPads and MS Surfaces.

The initial ban was said, by the Whitehouse, to do with intelligence that suggested terrorist were attempting to develop explosives, the size of a laptop battery, that were capable of bringing down a plane.

For photographers, it seems a lot of discussions about small cameras and Pelikan cases might be happening in the near future if this goes through. Either solution would seem the obvious way to get around the inability to take larger camera gear into carry-on luggage with you.

You can read the full transcript of the interview with Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kelly at Fox News where we would note that Secretary Kelly used enough weasel words to back out of this, so it isn’t yet a given.


Original story from Gizmodo and a heads up to our friends at Ugly Hedgehog for bringing it our attention.

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Capturing Intimate Waterfall Photos

6:03:00 AM

I love Maui and I shot it extensively in my previous visits. Locations like the Road to Hana are mesmerizing and full of photographic opportunities, mainly including water… a favorite subject of mine.

For my last visit a few weeks ago, I wanted a different take on the popular subject of tropical waterfalls. I was looking for something more unique, personal, and intimate; something outside of my comfort zone of wide colorful landscapes and seascapes. I  wanted something that could improve my photography by learning new forms of expression.

Planning

Even before setting foot on the plane, I decided what (and how) I wanted to shoot. I did this by forcing a clear and unambiguous theme: Endless Falls. I decided to depict the endless and timeless falling of water, in an almost abstract quality, as a metaphor to which people could relate. Based on this, three rules quickly followed:

  • Black and White – Monochromatic images evoke a timeless look that fits the theme perfectly.
  • Reasonably long shutter speed – To abstract the flow, I would need a shutter speed long enough to blur the water.
  • Long focal length – Longer focal lengths help isolate the subject within the waterfalls to avoid showing either the beginning or the end, hence evoking an “endless” motion

Once the idea of what I wanted to achieve was clear in my mind, I researched how other photographers have implemented some of the aspects on which I was focusing.

For example, I noticed that a shutter speed from 1/20s to 1/2s is usually enough to show motion while preserving some of the structure of the falling water. Structure and shapes are extremely important in black and white photography to produce a captivating image. Any shutter speed over 0.5 seconds would produce featureless streaks of water that, I noticed, were falling a bit out of fashion. I also noticed that I was more captivated by the more ‘contrasty’ black and white renditions, with large black areas to form the backdrops for white bright streaks.

I was ready to leave for Maui.

Execution

Armed with my “three rules” and a car big enough to carry my equipment (yet small enough for the narrow Road to Hana), I stopped at two very popular waterfalls in Maui: Waikani and Wailua.

When shooting black and white photos, it’s key to set the camera on the black and white picture settings; although the final RAW file contain all color information, the review images are in black and white. Even more importantly, on cameras with EVF, the preview image is in black and white while composing the shot. This helps enormously.

For all my Endless Falls images, I used a 70-400mm zoom, mainly at 400m, to isolate small portions of the waterfalls. I also took my time at each spot to work the locations and roam around, looking for the strongest compositions that would implement my vision.

Wailua Falls, Maui

Endless Falls #1 – Wailua Falls

I shot Endless Falls #1 at 210mm, f/5, 1/20s. Wailua is a tall, powerful, and very fast waterfall. A even faster shutter speed was necessary to keep the structure in the falls. I chose this composition to use the long streaks of water at the top as a frame for the smaller streaks formed by the rocks that were converging to the center bottom of the frame; this gives the eye a nice place to rest. The square composition evokes stability and symmetry.

Wailua Falls, Maui

Endless Falls #2 – Wailua Falls

I shot Endless Falls #2 again at 210m. This time, I chose a longer shutter speed of 0.4 seconds. This created the long streak on the left third to juxtapose to the shorter streaks on the right. The key to this image was making sure there was enough headroom on the highlights to keep structure and interest in the left side of the frame. To balance the image, the brighter portion is smaller (one third of the frame) than the darker portion (a generally good rule to follow).

Waikani Falls, Maui

Endless Falls #3 – Waikani Falls

Endless Falls #3 follows a similar theme to Endless Falls #2. It has a brighter, longer streak on the left against smaller streaks on the right. I loved the look of the right streaks (the third of the three bears). To zoom in tight, I shot this frame at 400mm with a shutter speed of 1/2s. This gave me the shapes I was after. The extensive black portions of the frame are broken up by the subtle rocks peaking in with small splashes of white. Again, the key is to preserve the structure of the left bigger streak with careful exposure.

Here are few images on Visual Wilderness that uses similar concepts to capture unique images of waterfalls around the world.

Gljufrafoss, Iceland

  • Dettifoss, Iceland

    Long Lens but with Fast Shutter Speed, Dettifoss, Iceland

  • Long Lens but with Fast Shutter Speed, Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

  • Long Lens but with Slow Shutter Speed, Panther Creek Falls, Washington (WA), USA

Conclusion

Forming a clear idea of what to shoot and planning the details (down to the details) even before leaving home helps produce a more coherent body of work. It also takes away most of the stress often associated to a reactive shooting style. Finally, it helps to push your photography boundaries in a more comfortable and pleasurable way by limiting the unknown variables; this keeps the excitement of exploring new fields and new techniques that can be later applied to different subjects and themes.

About Author Francesco Carucci

I'm a landscape photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Outside of my (pretty cool) daily desk job, I'm spending most of my spare time chasing the Light and printing it; the rare glimpses of it I manage to capture are in my gallery.

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30 Photography Links That Will Make You Happy

5:04:00 AM

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As another week passes by under our wheels, we look back at the best this week has to offer in the world of photography in this hand curated list of links from Toad Hollow Photography.  This weeks compendium includes links to tutorials, special features and great photography, with something here for photography enthusiasts of almost every genre.  We really hope you enjoy checking these links out as much as the Toad did himself in bringing this week's list to you.

TUTORIALS

5 Challenging Problems I Have Encountered Trying Macro in My Garden – macro photography, particularly shots that are found outdoors, is a tricky type of photography to get into while yielding the results you are hoping for. This great primer, posted here on Light Stalking, gives you some great insights and tips on how to find your own style and create stunning shots you will be happy to create for years to come.

SpiderMonkeyDerp

SpiderMonkeyDerp

How to Master the Content Aware and Patch Tool in Photoshop – a brief article that covers a very powerful feature inside of Photoshop that allows you to make natural looking adjustments with the content aware tools is shared here. Screenshots and a sample photo are included to give you a great idea of how to apply this to your work.

Improving your night photography with foreground lighting – great images are almost always about the light that was naturally or artificially found in a scene, and applying this concept to night photography takes the premise to another level. This great article covers this topic with some fabulous photographs that show you how applying these techniques can really make your images stand out.

You Don’t Need a Great Studio Space to Shoot Great Portraits – finding the right location for a portrait session can be as easy as finding an available area in a building near a staircase, as proven by the stunning photographs showcased in this article. If you appreciate great portraits you will not want to miss this article just for the incredible photographs posted here.

Andrea Schiavon

Andrea Schiavon

How to Get Started in The Business of Headshot Photography – starting a new photography practice from scratch can be a daunting undertaking. This brief video tutorial covers some of the basics that can help you build a portfolio that will support a professional practice in the field.

This Video Shows You How to Shoot 35mm, 120, and Large Format Film – shooting on different media formats presents different challenges and benefits, as shown in this video presentation that takes just over 14 minutes to watch. This video shows you all key aspects of using these cameras, giving you an instant idea of how to go about this on your own.

Make Your Portrait Subject Face the Light Source For More Flattering Light – sometimes the best tips are the simplest in nature, as shown here in this short article that shows the subtle, but noticeable, differences in getting your subject to face the light during a portrait session. The wrap-around lighting effect by doing so creates a less dramatic look with reduced shadows on the face, creating a striking look that is highly contemporary.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Watch Annie Leibovitz shooting Sony mirrorless – get a sneak peek behind the scenes as world-famous photographer Annie Leibovitz shoots still for a commercial session for a car company. These behind-the-scenes looks at how industry leaders work in the field can really reveal techniques and methods that can be brought into your own work.

Susanne Nilsson

Susanne Nilsson

This Photo Project Showcases The Beauty Of Nature At Its Best, Untouched State – nature can be a stunning photography subject, leaving you either clamoring for your luggage and the phone number to a great travel agent, or leaving you with a distinctive sense of artistic tension found in a stark landscape without signs of mankind. This feature falls into the second category, showcasing an incredible series of highly contrasted photographs that reveal the beauty and drama that can only be found in nature.

How Nikkor optical glass is made – as a photographer, we are always taking for granted our lenses without any real consideration into how they are designed and manufactured. This great video presentation takes you behind the scenes to see all the incredible steps and details that are followed in the design and creation of optical lenses.

GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY

Magical – join Michael Criswell and his wife, the Empress, as they explore a place that is truly magical for young and old alike; Disneyland. Michael’s series of shots he posted here from his whirlwind day really does the place justice, leaving the viewer with a yearning to experience the rides and get a set of Mickey Mouse ears as a souvenir.

Pedro Szekely

Pedro Szekely

Cryogenic City VII – Daniel Cheong takes us aloft to the 73rd floor of a skyscraper in Dubai to reveal this stunning look at the city below as a thick fog encircles the bases of the buildings, only leaving the tops to peer above the ambience back at the viewer. The details in the dramatic architecture here are spectacular, as is the light encountered during this particular time of day.

Harvest – Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington – incredible shadows play off the undulating hills and ridges that are found in this photographer’s paradise, Steptoe Butte State Park in the western part of the United States. Len Saltiel shares a great shot that takes on a highly abstract feel with a strong sense of depth in the natural color palette shared here by nature itself.

Misty evening … – a wonderful castle presents itself in the lush green landscape that surrounds it, creating a distinctly fairy tale looking shot that whisks us back into a time long ago. Krzysztof Browko uses the stone walkway as a leading line to guide you into the frame, taking advantage of an existing feature in the scene as a key compositional element.

Davide D'Amico

Davide D'Amico

Do You Ever Wonder? – Lisa Gordon helps us to ponder why it is that certain things catch our eyes and what we see in them in this great post. She includes a set of terrific photos with some of her accompanying thoughts, answering the question that the title of the post proposes with more introspective questions.

Waning Gibbous – the moon has been a favorite subject of photographers over the years, with close-ups of the surface revealing details and textures that are wonderful to view and enjoy. Christopher Wray shares a terrific composition of the moon, with all it’s glorious craters and details in full relief in the half that is lit from the sun.

Sportz Fotos

Sportz Fotos

The Value Of Turning Around – as photographers we hear it often, “turn around when shooting to see if there is anything interesting behind you”. Scott Wood shows us exactly why this is important in this wonderful snowy scene that features a bright red barn in the heart of the frame for a splash of brilliant color.

Bled Lake – this location sits high atop my personal bucket list, revealing different faces of the beautiful lake and the medieval-era monastery that sits on a tiny island in the middle depending on the time of year and day it is visited. This great shot comes to us from Adnan Bubalo and features a terrific look at this magical place, including the ancient castle that sits on the bluff in the backdrop overlooking that landscape.

Vivian Morales

Vivian Morales

The most photographed staircase in the world – this extraordinary trio of shots comes to us from Jim Nix who happily found himself exploring the Vatican on a tour with an eye towards photographing this incredible staircase. Jim’s composition takes advantage of the repeating patterns and geometry to deliver an almost abstract study of this incredible bit of majestic architecture.

Hamnoy – a frozen vista greets us in this beautiful landscape piece by wim denijs captured in the heart of winter in Norway. The wonderful red homes that dot the shores of the body of water add a great anchor into the shot, showing a bit of the scale of the dramatic setting along with the surrounding beauty the locals experience on a daily basis.

Replacing the windows – Andy Hooker (LensScaper) does a terrific job with this composition, using the reflections in a set of floor to ceiling windows as a mirror to create an optical effect that is both abstract and captivating at the same time. The contrast of glass and slightly weathered wood work in great harmony together in this piece to add the perfect finishing touch.

kees torning

kees torning

I love Istanbul – this vertigo inducing shot features strong elements of dynamic motion against a clear subject of a fast moving train in a tunnel, captured in Istanbul, Turkey by Gürkan Gündoğdu. The perfect blending of the fast-moving train caught perfectly still in the blink of an eye with the blurry lines from the tunnel are totally remarkable here.

the windy sunset – Frank King captures a stunning shot, capturing beautiful colors in the sky as the sun begins to set over a frozen landscape. The natural color palette created by the fading light of day is quite extraordinary in this scene, perfectly captured and frozen in time in this photograph.

Barry Dale Gilfry

Barry Dale Gilfry

sunset in waves – a beautiful dash of color on the horizon offsets the deep and dark contrasts that form the silhouettes of natural features that fill the foreground of this shot taken on the shore. Agnès Perrodon uses a long exposure during this late time of day to create a sense of motion in the ocean, with great details filling in the rest of the frame.

Le tournis – a forlorn and long forgotten villa creates the perfect photographic opportunity for Yannick M. to capture this terrific urbex themed image. A spiral staircase, unused for many years, forms a terrific series of lines and geometry that naturally draw the eye upwards where details and textures are revealed from years of natural decay.

yosemite falls. yosemite. California – Tanner Wendell Stewart captures a moody landscape shot that focuses on a breathtaking waterfall in this world-famous national park. Low hanging clouds add a veil of fog to the upper area of the falls, adding a perfect bit of drama to a compelling image.

dziambel

dziambel

Todd Creek – local Vancouver Island based photographer Jason McKenzie captures a beautiful scene that speaks of our rainforests and fast running creeks that are found everywhere here on the island. The old trees in this composition are covered in a thick, luscious moss, adding color and texture, all creations by nature that reflect our landscapes and forests.

Singularity – this stunning shot was captured high atop a crane as a vibrant sunset painted the sky in wonderful color in this incredible photograph from Bryson Gibbons. The lines from the arm of the crane create a perfect leading line, culminating in a vanishing point that draws the eye into the very heart of the frame.

Andrew

Andrew

Benches and a Sunset – incredible oranges and reds dance across the screen in this wide panoramic shot from Barry Turner. Barry anchors this shot with a bench looking out over the still bay as clouds linger in the distance to add texture to the vibrant skies.


The Giant King – Marco Carotenuto’s shot features spectacular green hues in the dark skies above Iceland created by the very active aurora borealis. A rock formation adds a great anchor in this composition, accented by the muted reflection of the scene in the semi-still waters that sit in the foreground.

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About Us

Time Trap Photography is dedicated to freezing those special moments in life that can be revisited and admired for generations to come. - Shannon Bourque

The lens in focus

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.” — Unknown

TIME TRAP PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT 2016