This post comes from our Sales Team Member and Creative Photo Academy Educator, Peter Khauo. We asked Peter to share about what's in his Video+Photo bag.
Feel free to ask questions or share thoughts in the comments.

What camera bag do you use?
Lowe Pro 170AW

What do you use it for?
Everything from video to stills.


Tell us about your set up and how you use it.
I have the LowPro Backpack and it has three compartments for lens. The top section is stuff with my H6, 580EXII Flash, ipad mini 3, lighting to sd dongle, continuous LED light, Gary Fong Light Sphere, 6 batteries, 2 chargers, 4 rechargeable AA batteries, scissors, multi-tool, receipt book, gorilla tape, metallic sharpies, and of course my watch.

The tools where added to my bag when I encounter issues that I needed to fix on the fly.

I use the ipad for reference when shooting video and also to display images for client after shoots are done.


What cameras, lenses and flashes do you bring?
Canon 6D
17-40mm F4L
70-200 F2.8L

Why is it awesome for what you do?
This setup is awesome because it covers most focal range. When I'm shooting video, I had a preplan set up of what I need when I plan to edit.

What's one piece of gear you think people should have?
First Aid Kit, I have one in my car.  But seriously, extra memory cards, extra pre-charged batteries.


What's one thing you carry with you that you wish you didn't have to bring?
Laptop/iPad since I like to review my work at home but many times clients what to see images/video right away.

Is there anything you would change for this to be your dream bag?
More prime lens. I would love to add Tamron 35mm F1.8, Tamron 85mm F1.8, Canon 24-70F2.8 Mark II, and Canon 70-200 F2.8 Mark II, and 5D Mark IV, and Rode Video Pro Mic/Rode Wireless Lav.

You can see more of his work facebook, instagram or youtube.
Questions or comments for Peter? Share them below...

Making great travel photographs is an art form. It requires attention to culture, landscape, history and your unique experience of the place. Travel photography works all of your photography muscles: landscape, documentary and portraiture. For this important subject we reached out one of the most seasoned travel photographers, Mark Comon.


Travel Photography:  The Secrets to a Great Adventure

When you travel you want to share your adventure with family and friends.   There is a formula to producing good travel photographs and great travel presentations.  Take the “National Geographic” approach to your next week-long adventure or weekend get-away.

Tell the Story
Travelers and photographers want to tell the story of the adventure and share our feeling for the location.  The secret is to remember these goals when snapping your photos and while organizing your photo book and slide show.

Find your Title Photograph
Begin with an informative title photos.  Let the audience know where you are with images of well-known landmarks (Golden Gate Bridge, Eiffel Tower) and photos of signs or descriptive images (Santa Fe 10 miles).  Make your titles interesting by including people wherever appropriate.


Show the Natural Beauty
You visit remote locations because of the natural beauty.  Bring back beautiful scenic photos to make your audience jealous!  What drew you to this place: mountains, oceans, rivers or architecture?  Show the beauty and scenic grandeur through your photography.

Include Local People
A visit to India would not be complete without photos of Indians. Photograph the local people to bring the audience in contact with the place. Nothing says more about a locale than the people that live there. Use wide-angle lenses in close for groups or crowds (the market place in Marrakech) and telephoto for faces and candid images.  Always learn the local customs and respect their rules, regulations and privacy.


Shoot the Details
Capture the local flavor by capturing pictures that are unique to your destination.  When in Italy great photographs have the taste, smell, and feel of Italy.  What photos makes you feel the location: the marketplace with street vendors, the town square with old men discussing politics or the beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral.  Search out the local images and bring them home.

Back home is the most difficult process…. EDITING!  Keep only the best, dispose of the rest.  Be ruthless to only show your best photos.

We hope this helps you snap and keep the right pictures on your amazing Vacation.


For more on travel photography check out our other articles...

Photographing Holiday Lights

*This an update to our article "How to Photograph Holiday Lights."
ISO 200, 4 second exposure, F16, 70-200mm lens, ZOOMED during exposure. AUTO White Balance

Christmas is family, friends, cheer and goodwill.  The lights on our Christmas tree and in the neighborhood share these well-wishes with the world around us.  I love to photograph the festive Holiday lighting displays, indoor and out!

Most beginning photographer worry about shooting at night, it’s just like daytime except dimmer!  You just have to choose hand-held photo or tripod shooting.  For hand held pictures with a digital pocket camera or SLR camera is easy.   Choose a high ISO setting (ISO 800,1600 or 3200) and use your lens at the brightest lens opening (2.8, 4.0 or 5.6).  With a compact camera (film or digital) zoom to the widest position where the lens is the brightest, turn off the flash and shoot!  For better color, more creativity and all around better photos tripod shooting is best.  Use 100 or 200 ISO setting sturdy tripod and remote release.  You may find your camera making exposure from 1 second to 30 seconds on the average scene.  Choose aperture priority with F-stop 8 to have the majority of the scene in focus and shoot!  The longer shutter speed will creatively blur moving items and equalize the “twinkling” lights.

ISO 200, 8 second exposure, F11, 24mm lens.   AUTO White Balance

Check the light for color and effect.  White balance is an important control.  Daylight, tungsten or fluorescent settings will affect the color of your end result. Experimentation with white balance is fun and effective on all cameras

To make your photos more “festive” choose to add a star filter.  A ProMaster Cross Screen filter adds the “extra spark” to your Christmas Lights photos by turning every pin-point of light into a star!

Photographing your Christmas tree and light display is a simple way to share the Joy of the Holidays with family and friends…as well as sharing our skill and love of photography.

ISO 200, 1/2 second exposure, F8, 50mm lens. AUTO White Balance


Here’s a check list to make it simpler!

  1. Use a tripod.  Our exposures will be upwards of 1 second!  Make sure the tripod is level and steady
  2. Turn off the flash, use the ambient light only
  3. Matrix light meter
  4. Program exposure mode for beginners, Aperture priority (f 8 or 11) if you are comfortable, Manual if you’ve got game!
  5. Beginners- JPG files.  Advanced or Intermediate- shoot RAW baby
  6. ISO 100 or 200
  7. Test Auto and Tungsten white balance on digital cameras… see what looks best!
  8. Fill the frame with your subject.  Avoid lots of “dark areas” with no lights in the picture
  9. Check your histogram to verify exposure
  10. Take the picture and enjoy!



This guest post is by Karen Schuenemann, Creative Photo Academy Instructor and  award winning nature photographer. We hope you enjoy...

Sometimes we know something's missing in life and other times we don't realize it until we meet that special someone. Well, my friend, today I would like to introduce you to that someone... Back Button Focus (BBF)

Normal folks go about their day focusing and taking pictures with the same button. Yes they seem happy enough but there's something missing. They may not realize it if they shoot landscape pictures or if they like having their subject in the center of the frame for every picture. But the second life hits with the thrill of action or the passion of child rearing, they're going to be left wanting.

The single button just won't cut it, you need a new BFF.


When you make friends with BBF something special happens. It will sound insignificant but it's not. Employing the BBF causes your shutter release button to only do that, release the shutter. And now you have a different dedicated button for focusing. The Back Button now tells the camera to focus and by continuing to press the Back Button, it will track the subject. If you stop pressing on the Back Button the focus is locked at that distance, you can recompose the image, and voila, hit the shutter and take the picture. No more refocusing every time you let go of the shutter button!

I get the shot because I have the focus separated from the shutter! It works in wildlife, bird, and bridal photography! BBF is not picking and choosing when locking focus will operate successfully. It works every time because you take control.

Schuenemann-03 creative academy-edit

So how do you find your new BFF? Almost all DSLRs have the option for BBF but they employ it differently. Come in to Paul's Photo and ask our staff or do a google search with your specific camera model to learn more.

If you'd like to learn from the pro herself join her on one of her "Birds in Flight" classes or come on the Bosque Del Apache Adventure in December to photograph with her at one of the best spots in the world for bird photography.

At Creative Photo Academy and Paul's Photo we think there's something special about Black and White photography. There's a romance to it. Non photographers often tell us that B&W looks more artistic. What I think they mean is that it helps them see the world a little differently. And it does. So whether you've just started dabbling in it or you were raised eating breakfast from a cereal box with Ansel Adam's pictures of Yosemite on it, we want to be a resource for you.
Mark Comon, the founder of Creative Photo Academy, has built a weekend long workshop aimed specifically at the Black and White photographer. He'll take you through the entire process from learning to think in black and white, heading out on a shoot together, editing your photographs in the classroom and making a final digital print. If you're the type of person that want's to benefit from his years of experience we think his Black and White Workshop on October 17 & 18, 2015 is going to change the way you think about making pictures. But for those of you that can't make it, I asked Mark to share some tips for getting started:


For nearly a century photography existed only in black and white. After the advent of color film most casual photographers left black and white photography to the fine art photographers. Today the enthusiast and family photographer has re-discovered the simple beauty of the monochrome* image. Black and white photographs offer the classic power and grace unavailable with color pictures.

To get started in Black & White switch your digital camera to the B&W mode, even in full AUTO.  You’ll find this in the picture style or special effects settings.  It’s that simple to start in Black & White.  Play with the interactions of textures and tones (as opposed to colors).  Look for the way soft shadows play with your subject, notice the creative effects of texture and patterns in the world.  You’ll capture life in 256 shades of gray.  Black and white photography is addicting.  Soon you’ll soon be learning to use your camera in Manual mode!

Black and white photography is a study of light, shadow and form.  To capture the best photos look for gentle light with infinite detail and shades of gray.  The beginner will always gravitate towards the strong shadows of light and dark subjects (like a zebra) but there's more!  John Sexton’s book The Quiet Light illustrates perfectly the beauty of soft, virtually shadow-less light for black & white pictures of simple subjects.  Look for soft shadows and overcast skies for both landscape and portrait shooting.

Simple subjects, soft light and your creative eye will make beautiful black & white pictures.  It’s fun to try new things and make some amazing pictures too.

What tips would you share with a photographer starting out with B&W?
*If you want some real street cred be sure to call your B&W photos "monochrome" it makes photographers weak in the knees.


Fall means back to school time and the rumblings of activity on the soccer and football fields.  It seems like every mom & dad, grandma & grandpa wants to shoot sports and action!  Here are my thoughts… because I love sports photography.

When shooting sports we find it's best to use a Digital SLR camera with tracking Auto Focus and fast motor-drive. Tracking auto focus allows the camera to follow a moving subject, focus continuously as the subject moves and produces crisp, clear photos even under the most extreme conditions. Fast motor drive means the camera will snap quickly from picture to picture.  Auto exposure and auto advance make the shooting instantly simple…and without thought…which is vital to capturing the action.

Lenses for sports photography can be your “off the shelf” variety or the “pro” quality optics.  If your sport is outdoors under bright sunshine a 70-300mm 4-5.6 may be all that is required.  To get closer you may opt for an 100-400mm lens with image stabilizing technology.  For better picture quality, indoor sports or “under the lights” you will need a pro lens with 2.8 aperture.  The 70-200mm 2.8 is most popular with moms & dads while pros choose a 300mm 2.8 or 400mm 2.8 lens.  Yes, these lenses run into some serious money. Remember that bright lenses allow you to shoot indoors without flash or outdoors under poor conditions. A bright (or fast) lens has an opening of 2.8.


For shooting football it’s best to stand on the side-lines 10-15 yards on either side of the scrimmage line with your 300 or 400mm lens.  If your focus is on the defensive players, position yourself on the offense side of the ball and if your focus is the offensive team set-up 15 yards into the defense.  This way the “action” always comes towards you!  When shooting football you must be careful not to get run over by an errant pass or player.

The best soccer photos come from the top of the 18 yard box and near the goal line with a 300mm or 400mm lens. Choose a portion of the field and cover it. Wait for the action to come to you. Be mindful to shoot with the sun over your shoulder if possible with a clean background. Football is similar to soccer in that you need a long lens and must wait for the action to come to you.

Sports photography can be very rewarding capturing the action on the field and off!  Coaches and players, coaches and officials, cheerleaders, fans and the color of the event are rich candy for our lens.  Use your creative eye and have fun making fun sports photos this fall.

-Mark Comon

Ok, you’ve heard this so many times before.  Your most important images should be preserved both on paper and electronically in case anything should happen.

2013-10-18 KB kid 2 of 3


I recently called my sister and asked her how she was.  “Crappy,” she said.  (This from someone who once answered, “Fine, but snap, crackle, pop I broke my ankle.”)  It seemed a pipe collapsed in her front yard and her basement was flooded 6 inches.  Her share of the family photographs were now on the deck trying to dry out.  “Even that photo album you made as a kid of everyone in the back yard?” “Yeah, but I think it will be ok.”

Technology changes.  Ektachrome color shifts and fades. Disk storage changes (why do we still have a floppy disk as a save icon?). Hard drives crash. Just as our brains need to occasionally call up memories to always remember them, so it is for our images.  Right now pictures of your family and friends may not seem worth worrying about, since everyone is around, maybe even too much.  However there will be a day when that little girl you love is now a teenager and you’ll never get that toddler back again for a photo.

Don’t make this a huge project so you never want to start. This is not scaling Mt. Everest. You don’t have to go through every photo or image you own (especially from those bad old days of free double prints!) Pick out a dozen.  They don’t even have to be the best ones, because remember you are not making this a big project.  You just want to have a little memory insurance. Print, scan, convert, or do whatever you need to preserve your memories.  Ok, you heard it again from us – now do it before something happens and you’re asking Jeff about restoration services!

By Kathleen Bullard

Lightroom. Lr. You’ve heard about it because everyone talks about how great it is to organize and edit their photos.  The real heavyweight photographers, of course use Ps, but later for that.

So you get Lr, load it up, and immediately experience frustration, because you of course, are tech-savvy and can get new software programs intuitively without any help. Lr is a great program, but it’s got a few little idiosyncrasies that if you don’t know them, will make you nuts. Here’s a few tips just to get you started.

First, I never ever directly load my images into Lr.  I open Finder (or Explorer) and either add to or create a new folder and then copy my images from the card into there.  Then, I open Lr and go to File>Import Photos and Video, indicate the drive and folder I’m pulling from, and click Import at the bottom right-hand side.  It’s fast, and it’s exactly in the folders I want them to be because I put them there.

Bright aphids


Next, have fun by selecting one photo by double-clicking on it, and choose the Develop tab on top.  Take the sliders on the right back and forth all the way and see what they do. Woo-woo! 60’s psychedelic album covers appear. Compare the aphids shot on hairy balls with the very enhanced version. Try B&W too.  Don’t worry, because Lr is a “non-destructive editor” and your original is always intact.

Last tip. You actually got the image the way you like it, but can’t find the “Save” or “Save As” command.  No floppy disk icon either.  The command is Export.  Once again, I have a file where I want to put these images as .jpgs for use later.  Just follow the screens and you’ll get there.

If this was all there was to Lr, we wouldn’t have classes for you to explore all that this program can do.  So if you want to know more, check out our newly-revamped classes for both Lr and Ps. Happy editing!

This week's tips and techniques are how to photograph fireworks!
For this you need a camera with MANUAL shutter speed, f-stop and focus control along with a tripod and remote release.  Choose 100 or 200 iso (digital or film). Pre-select your location before the festivities begin.  Look for a location free from obstruction by trees, power lines or other distractions.  It is also best to avoid street-lamps or other lights in the photo.  Preset your camera and lens on the tripod to capture approximately the area of the sky where you envision the bursts to occur.  Generally a medium telephoto lens (100-200mm) works best.  Try it and see if you like it!

Downtown Disney with the Night Hawks on June 30

Manually focus to infinity, manually set the shutter speed to "bulb" or "B" and use your remote release.  Set the camera so you may hold the shutter open for as long as you like (we will be shooting 10-30 second exposures).  Set the aperture manually to f-8 or f-11.  You may "bracket" between 8, 11 or 16 if you choose.  Watch the fireworks and determine the exact location in the sky.  Fine-tune your positioning.  Get ready.... SHOOT!  Hold the shutter open for one complete burst.... 8 to 12 seconds (press the remote release and hold...let go when your exposure is finished).  Now hold the shutter open for two complete bursts.  Hold the shutter open for 3 or 4 bursts.  Experiment, have fun and enjoy shooting on the FOURTH of JULY!  Be sure to let me know how your fireworks photos develop... and post them on the Paul's Photo and the Creative Photo Academy Facebook page!


Planning which photos you are going to take on a vacation can take almost as much time as planning your itinerary, but if you do it right, you will make things so much easier on yourself once you arrive -- and you'll be sure the pictures you take won't end up in a shoebox in the closet or unopened files on your computer.

From our 2010 Germany Photo Adventure
From our Germany Photo Adventure

One month before you go...

Check your equipment: Make sure you have new batteries (don't only bring one!), check your memory card supply, make sure your sensor has been cleaned, and determine which specific lenses, tripod, filters, etc you will need for the types of photos you plan to take.

Develop a Photo Game Plan: What will you be doing with your photos after the trip ends? Hanging them on the wall? Uploading to a website? Designing a photo album? For example, if you plan to create an album, you will want the photos to tell a story. If you're using the photos for a blog post or in conjunction with writing, you'll need to know a general outline of what you plan to write about and how you want the photos to correlate.

Create a Photo Itinerary: This will probably correspond a great deal with your regular sightseeing itinerary, but it helps to prioritize your list into necessity (I gotta see it), maybe (If there’s time), and back up.

Hearst Castle from a previous San Simeon Photo Adventure
Hearst Castle from a previous San Simeon Photo Adventure

During the Trip....

Back Up As You Go: If you plan on taking hundreds 0r thousands of photos while you're traveling, you should have a back-up strategy on hand to ensure you won't lose any photos, but also to start processing the photos as you go along so that you won't have so much work to do when you get back home. Alternatively, if you don't want to bring a computer along, at least bring several different memory cards so that if something happens to one of the cards, only part of your photo collection will be affected.

Stay Aware: Camera equipment is expensive, which makes it an excellent target for theft. Keep camera equipment near you at all times, and consider using a camera bag that doesn't necessarily look like a camera bag. Try to carry the smallest possible camera bag during the day with only the equipment you will need for that day.

Battery Charging: A good rule of thumb is to bring the amount of batteries you would normally bring on a daytime excursion PLUS one more. Also, if you bring enough  batteries, you can leave one or two behind during the day charging in your hotel room. Make sure you are prepared with the proper adapter and converter for whichever country you're visiting.

Group shot from our Eastern Sierras Photo Adventure
Group shot from our Eastern Sierras Photo Adventure

After the trip....

Storing photos: Organizing photos on your computer in a way that you can easily find and access them five or ten years into the future (this includes backing them up efficiently). This is also when you can finally delete any photos you don't want to keep (don't delete them on your camera during the trip!) Mark teaches an excellent class about organizing photos that covers everything from importing them into your computer to printing and sharing them with friends and family.

Editing photos: You have several choices for editing software: Picasa, Lightroom, Photoshop... whichever software you choose, make sure you are familiar enough with the program so that you don't get halfway through editing 500 photos and realize you've been doing something incorrectly the whole time. (Lightroom and Photoshop classes starting up again in the summer, just saying!)

Printing/Sharing Photos: Now your photos are ready to show off! Decide if you want to have them printed professionally, or if you want to invest in a professional-grade printer like the Canon M100 to do it yourself at home. If you want to print everything in an album altogether, it's easiest to bring your photos on a thumb drive into a print lab (like Paul's Photo) and use the in-store kiosk to design the layout of your album.

If you are posting photos online, make sure the image size and output sharpening are correct -- if the file size is too large and you are posting to a personal blog or website, the photos could slow down the loading time of the entire site.


Check out Creative Photo Academy for classes & workshops to help you prepare for your next big trip... or call us at 310-375-7014: