Join Me at the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit, October 26-30, 2016

This fall, I’ll be one of the featured instructors at the 2nd Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit, which will take place during the week of October 26-30, 2016 at the Tremont Lodge and Resort in Townsend Tennessee.

Set during the peak of fall colors, the GSMPS offers a unique and intimate opportunity to surround yourself with outdoor and nature photography and learn from a number of accomplished pros.

With both guided and un-guided field sessions, panel discussions, classes, critique sessions, keynote presentations, small “break-out sessions,” a mini trade show and evening “Fireside Fellowships,” you’ll have unprecedented access to interact on a personal level with the team of instructors, as well as with other participants. This year, the roster also includes Bill Fortney, Jack Graham, Matt Kloskowski, Deborah Sandidge, Richard Bernabe and more. See the full list below.

In addition, there will be reps on hand from a number of companies, including FujifilmSigmaManfrotto and Macgroup, so you’ll be able to check out and demo a wide selection of cameras, lenses, tripods, filters, etc…

Used Photo Pro will also be there offering cash for your used camera equipment, in case you’re looking to upload and/or upgrade.

I’m honored to be one of the instructors for this year’s summit, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with other photographers, meeting some of these very accomplished pros myself, and of course, making new friends.

Also, I know that Tennessee is a lot closer than Alaska for many people, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to meet some of my followers and teach other photographers who aren’t able to make it all the way up here.

The 2016 GSMPS is limited to only 200 participants, and I’m told that it WILL sell out quickly. (As of right now, there are only about 50 spots left.If you’re interested in being a part of this immersive photography week, be sure and visit their website to see more info and register for the event.

I hope to see you there!


Lensbaby Now Has Mounts for Mirrorless Camera Systems

_DSF2159ARecently, Lensbaby released a lineup of their creative tilt lenses with mounts for mirrorless camera systems. This means that Fuji shooters can now get in on the fun!

Lensbaby currently has mounts for Fujifilm X Series cameras, Sony A, Sony E, Olympus and Panasonic M 4/3, Pentax K and Samsung NX, in addition to their original Nikon and Canon mounts.

I’ve used a few of the Lensbabies and they’re lots of fun. They offer some great creative options, and while you wouldn’t want to use them all the time, they can be really cool tools to have in your kit. I absolutely LOVE this merged Lensbaby panorama shot by pro travel photographer Nevada Wier. She’s long been one of my favorites; I’ve been following her work for a long time, ever since I started shooting back in the early 90s.

Keep in mind, all Lensbaby optics are manual focus and they do not have electronic contacts so they don’t communicate with your camera. With use on Fuji cameras, you must go into the menu and select the “Shoot Without Lens” option. Other cameras may function differently, so you’ll need to check the manual when you get the Lensbaby in hand.

Also, if you already have Lensbaby optics from another system, say you bought them for Nikon and switched to Fuji, you can special order an “empty” Composer Pro in your new mount that you can use with your optics. Any Lensbaby optic can be used with any camera, no matter if they’re DSLR or mirrorless. Contact contact Lensbaby directly at 877-536-7222 or email them at

Here are the Lensbaby models that are currently available for Fuji and other camera systems:

Composer Pro with Sweet 35 Optic

The Composer Pro is the main mount that allows you to swap out different optics. The Sweet 35 Optics is the widest of of the Lensbaby optics, and it allows you to get a very dreamy look a “sweet spot” of focus that’s surrounded by a creamy wash of blur. By adjusting the tilt of the lens, you can control the amount of blur and the location of your in-focus sweet spot. Here’s an example of what you can do with the Sweet 35 optic.

Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Optic

Same design as the above model, but a slightly more narrow angle of view. It also has an aperture range from f/2.5 to f/22, so you have a wide variety of creative options.

Composer Pro with Edge 50 Optic

The Lensbaby Edge Optic system is quite different from the “Sweet” optic system. Essentially a short telephoto lens, the Edge 50 allows you to achieve a totally flat field of focus, just like a standard lens. However, by tilting the lens, you can create a slice of focus that can be manipulated with regards to the amount of focus and blur, and the position of your in-focus subject matter within the frame.

The Edge Optics are my favorite Lensbaby lenses and I’ve used them for a variety of compositions. Here are a few examples. They also have the Edge 80 Optic, which is designed for DSLR cameras.

_DSF2176A _DSF2177A


Lensbaby Velvet 56 f/1.6

Built like a classic portrait lens, the Velvet 56 is a unique design that offers a short telephoto viewpoint, a very fast aperture and 1:12 macro capabilities.

With a manual focus ring, it delivers a rich, sharp imagery with subtle undertones when you stop down, and a soft, glowing, ethereal effect when you open up the aperture. This gives you some very organic and original creative options to your imagery.

The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a pretty versatile lens, and it goes from dreamy to crisp with a simple twist of the aperture ring.

5.8mm Circular Fisheye Lens

With a 185 degree angle of view, the Lensbaby Circular Fisheye offers an extreme perspective and the ability to focus at one quarter of an inch in front of the lens. It also has a polished interior barrel that produces a unique flare effect when pointed directly at a light source.

How Different Photographers Interpret the Same Scene

Learn Photography Online with the Pros

_DSF1863This past Saturday, I spent the entire day exploring the Matanuska Glacier with 3 other photographer friends. Arriving before sunrise, we hiked out to the ice in the dim hours of twilight and shot for 7 hours, capturing the broken, blue and white landscape with a diverse variety of compositions and light.

I really enjoyed the camaraderie of our icy photo trek. While it was a lot of fun to get lost in the seemingly endless carnival of picture taking opportunities, I also enjoyed bouncing around and seeing what each of the other shooters was focused on at any given time.

Also, we had another added benefit since that everyone is a photographer, there was noone to get bored of waiting for us to be done.

With four distinct personalities, each of which has a different assortment of equipment, creative ideas and photographs styles, it’s always interesting to see the variations with which different photographers can capture the exact same scene, often times with mere minutes or seconds of each other.

_DSF2131The funny thing is that, even if I’ve made images that I’m really excited about, when I see the work of the other shooter, I often look at a particular photo and think, “wow, awesome- how come I didn’t see/notice that?!” 

That’s exactly what I’m talking about- each of us has our own ideas about the subject, and we all respond to different shapes, colors, and relationships in our own personal way. That’s the great thing about photography, and when you shoot with other people, you get to see this in real time.

In my usual type of photography adventures, I’m often the only one with a camera, at least one that’s not a phone or a point and shoot. That’s why I find this kind of exercise so valuable, and so enjoyable. Sometimes I go out with one other shooter, but to spend a whole day with three other photographers in a setting that’s not a workshop type dynamic? I rarely do that, and I had a blast!_DSF1889 _DSF2143

To help illustrate what I’m talking about, I’d like to share some of the images the other three people captured out there during our glacier day. Between these three other shooters, one is a full time pro, one is a part time pro and one is a non-pro.

I won’t tell you which one is which, I’ll just show you a brief selection of their work from that day, all of which I really like. I encourage you to check out more of their work, all of them are outstanding photographers.

To David, Jody and Tim, I’d like to say thanks for a great day and for all the inspiration and photography goodness. Can’t wait to do it agains soon!

If you’re interested in attending my upcoming Matanuska Glacier Photography Workshop, April 1-3, 2016, my deadline for signing up is February 1. Click here for more info.


Jody Overstreet

David Ryan Taylor

Tim Escher

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