Losar: Bhutanese New Year Celebration

This past February while on Assignment for MyBhutan, I was fortunate enough to be in the Bumthang district of Bhutan during their New Year’s festival known as Losar. It is a festival that reinforces communal ties, strengthens family values and celebrates the amazing cultural traditions of Bhutan. Everyone celebrates differently doing things such as feasting, attending family gatherings, dancing or playing traditional sports like archery and darts.

While out one morning during Losar, I ended up at a small monastery full of young monks. Shortly after I arrived, I saw them run and throw hand fulls of flour at each other. At first, I thought it was part of a prank but then learned that they were preparing to take part in a much larger traditional flour battle in celebration of Losar. With the majority of monks worshipping inside the temple, a small group of other monks gathered outside to ambush them as they exited.

As the monks finished their worship ceremonies and exited the temple, they were quickly bombarded with friendly hand fulls of flour. As strange of a festival as it may appear, the throwing of roasted barley flour on each other is a symbolic gesture, observed in many monasteries around the country, to usher in Losar.

Photographing the flour battle was some of the most fun I’ve ever had while shooting.

Photography of young Buddhist monks celebrating the Bhutanese New Year (Losar festival) by throwing powder and flour at each other at a monastery in Bumthang

Throughout the entire morning, the monks made me feel completely welcome and made it such an incredible experience. They even invited me into the battle and spent so much time kindly teaching me their traditional dances and songs before inviting me inside for lunch.

 

One monk was kind enough to record the video of me going through the lineup. I never got his name but I’m beyond thankful he was able to capture this memory for me. I can’t express how welcoming all the monks were to me. I felt so fortunate to spend Losar with them and hope to be back again next year.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read! If you’re interested in visiting Bhutan, I highly recommend getting in touch with MyBhutan to plan your trip!


Cinematic Wild Brown Bears Film

A short collection of footage that I shot while photographing wild brown bears in the forests of eastern Finland.

Music by Benjamin James, licensed on Music Bed.

 

4K Footage available for licensing.


Night photography of the Milkyway over Mount Rainier near Sunrise Visitors Center, Washington Photo by Andrew Studer

Mount Rainier Timelapse & Aerial Film

A timelapse & aerial film shot over the course of three short trips to Mount Rainier National Park during the Spring, Summer & Autumn. All aerial footage was shot legally, outside of the National Park. Enjoy!


Behind the scenes of photographer Andrew Studer

Avoiding 'Creative Ruts' as a Photographer

Whether you’ve been shooting in your spare time as a hobby or professionally, you’re bound to feel less motivated and inspired compared to back when you were first starting out. Dealing with a lack of inspiration is something that all artists face at some point and it’s never a fun thing to go through. I’ve been doing photography and video professionally for over the past four years and while I understand that’s not all that long, I’ve faced several periods where I’ve felt a lack of inspiration and fell into ‘a creative rut.’

Over the past couple years of doing something related to photo and video each and every day, I’ve begun to realize several things that I need to do to keep myself out of ‘creative ruts’ and inspired to create. They work really well for me and I hope that they work well for you too!


iPhone 11 Pro Max nature Photography ultra wide angle lens

Photographer Andrew Studer shooting on the new iPhone 11 Pro Max

Excited about the new cameras and potential for photography, I recently picked up the brand new iPhone 11 Pro. I spent two days cruising around Oregon and capturing a few photos and videos. In this review, I focus on the brand new night mode & Ultra Wide lens while also touching a little bit on the portrait modes.

Overall, I’m extremely impressed with the new capabilities! I think that the iPhone 11 Pro’s new night mode is a complete game changer! I was shooting handheld 3s exposures that came out perfectly sharp.

The ultrawide lens is also a great addition! I feel like it has a neat way of making a subject appear to be more fun and dynamic. I typically don’t use wide angle lenses in my photography but I had a ton of fun testing it out!

Big thanks to Ryan Braden & Blake Allen for helping out and filming the BTS footage! Also thanks to Ukaia Rogers for the tech help!


Autumn in Aspen

This past fall,  Toby Harrimanand I decided to hit the road and head to Aspen, Coloradoto see what we could do with the fall colors I knew would be popping up as the weather cooled down. I’m originally from the area and knew that fall is one of the most beautiful times to visit the area and would potentially make for really great imagery.

My past experience proved fruitful once again, as we got some really great stuff. From fly fishing to driving my parent’s dog up the insanely beautiful Independence pass, we definitely got what we came for. Seriously, right around when the leaves are turning is the perfect time to visit.


Shooting Waterfalls

The following is a collection of some of my favorite photos and videos of waterfalls that I have captured over the years.

Landscape photography of autumn leaves in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Landscape photography of autumn leaves in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

This is a photo I captured of South Falls in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon during Fall. The many deciduous trees in the area make it the perfect spot to capture fall color. The beautiful orange leaves that surround the waterfalls combined with the warmth of the early morning light beams made this one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken from the park.

Underwater photography of Punchbowl waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Underwater photography of Punchbowl waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Here is a photo of Punchbowl Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. I shot this image using my underwater housing. As of now, the landscape around this waterfall is unfortunately very damaged closed off due to a massive wildfire that occurred in the summer of 2017.

A person in a white sweater stands next to Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland
A person in a white sweater stands next to Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland
Night photography of the northern lights over Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland
Night photography of the northern lights over Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland
My all time favorite image was also captured at Proxy Falls. I'm especially proud of this image because it captures a really special, un-staged moment. Before I even had my camera out, I saw this man walking with his dog across the log and knew I had to capture it. I quickly rushed into the flow and setup my camera and tripod with just enough time to ask him if he'd be willing to hold still for the photo.
Landscape photography of a boy and his dog on a log at Proxy Falls, Oregon

Below is Havasau Falls in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. It’s such an incredible waterfall because of how remote it is. After a ten mile hike down into the canyon, it was so rewarding to be able to swim and relax next to this beautiful waterfall.

Night photography of the stars over Havasu Falls in Arizona

Havasupai Falls is famous for it’s vibrant turquoise blue water that is enhanced in the afternoon light. While I loved photographing the unique color of this waterfall during the day time, I especially enjoyed shooting it under the starlight. Because you’re so far away from any towns and light pollution, the stars in the Grand Canyon are so bright and plentiful making it the perfect place to do night photography.

These two images were both taken at Oneonta Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon during different seasons. Oneonta Falls is also one of my favorite waterfalls in Oregon. After a brief, quarter mile trek up a gorge through the river you’re greeted by Oneonta Falls. It’s a wonderful spot to spend a hot summer afternoon – or cold, winter day. Unfortunately, this spot is also currently closed off because of the wildfire. The forest above was completely burned causing frequent landslides to fall into the gorge.

Sometimes, excessive rain or snow can allow for some beautifully unique conditions at waterfalls. The image on the left is of Elowah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. The two smaller side falls are not usually there but I was lucky enough to capture them during a very rainy winter.

 

The image on the right is of Wahclella falls during the winter. I captured this image from inside a large frozen snow cave that had formed after a snow storm.

Here is an underwater image I captured at Wachella Falls Oregon during the summer time. I had so much fun swimming around the waterfall photographing the tiny waves and light beams that formed. I really enjoy using my underwater housing to photograph waterfalls in a non traditional fashion.

Underwater photography of Abiqua Falls in Oregon
Underwater photography of Andrew Studer at Abiqua Falls in Oregon

I also enjoyed shooting some underwater photography at Abiqua Falls near Silverton, Oregon. While at Abiqua Falls, I focused on capturing fast exposure images of the underwater bubbles and spray that came off the waterfall. Although it slightly made me look like a chipmunk, I really appreciated having my XCEL Wetsuitand dive gloves to keep me warm as I spent hours swimming in the cold water.

Finally, here is an image of Panther Creek Falls on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.

I captured these two videos of Panther Creek Falls on two separate visits after a lot of rainfall.


Underwater photography of Punchbowl waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

My Favorite Moments from 2017

2017 was an amazing year full of some very fun trips and photoshoots. I explored new styles and forms of photography including underwater and portraiture photography that I hope to do more of in 2018. Last month, I shared a video highlighting my year. Now, I’m excited to share a short collection of just a couple of my favorite images taken during 2017.

Thanks for taking a look!

Photography of double Rainbows at a lava spout in Hawaii volcanoes national park
Photography of double Rainbows at a lava spout in Hawaii volcanoes national park

I’ve been fortunate enough to make a couple trips out to Iceland over the years but this was the first time I was able to photograph the beautiful landscapes from the air.

Witnessing totality during the solar eclipse was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

Underwater photography of Punchbowl waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Underwater photography of Punchbowl waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Getting into underwater photography was a big part of my year and I plan on doing more in 2018!

Ice made for some really interesting compositional opportunities this past winter.

Photography of two Bhutanese children in Laya, Bhutan
Photography of two Bhutanese children in Laya, Bhutan

Before my trip to Bhutan, I had never done any portraiture or street photography. On my first day in the country, I was hooked! I hope to do more in 2018.

Aerial landscape photography of a lake in Bhutan
Aerial landscape photography of a lake in Bhutan

Aerial photography from a helicopter of mount chephren in Banff National Park during sunrise above the fog Photo by Andrew Studer

Tips for Aerial Photography

Aerial photography is an extremely fun and relatively easy way to create new and unique images. Over the past couple years I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken several flights over Iceland, Hawaii, NYC, the Canadian Rockies, and other stunning landscapes.

Through quite a lot of trial & error on these flights, I have learned a lot about aerial photography so I decided to share a short tips & tricks guide. I hope you find it helpful!

Aerial landscape photography of a lake in Bhutan
Aerial landscape photography of a lake in Bhutan

Typically, most flights range from $750 – $2,000/ hr. To reduce cost, bring friends!

Usually, helicopters & other aircraft allow for at least 2-3 people on board. Splitting a flight three ways can help to make aerial photography more affordable.

Aerial photography of svínafellsjökull glacier in Iceland
Aerial photography of svínafellsjökull glacier in Iceland
Blue aerial Photography of braided river glacial streams in Iceland Photo by Andrew Studer Photo by Andrew Studer

Use a fast shutter speed!Vibration from an aircraft and windy conditions can make it difficult to create sharp images. In most situations I’ve found that 1/250 of a second just won’t quite cut it. Depending on my focal length, I try to keep my shutter speed at around 1/500 or even higher if the light allows for it.

Just remember to bump your ISO or open up your aperture to compensate.

Aerial photography of Landmannalaugar iceland Photo by Andrew Studer

If you’re chartering a flight, you’re the boss! If there is a specific peak or valley you want to focus on shooting, communicate with your pilot over the radio or better yet, talk to them beforehand so you can maximize your time shooting.

If you find yourself wanting to reshoot a location or see what something looks like at a new altitude or positioning, communicate with your pilotand they’ll do what you need to get the shot. You’ll always walk away with more if you communicate!

Aerial photography of mount chephren in Banff National Park during sunrise above the fog Photo by Andrew Studer
Aerial photography of a mountain at Banff National Park during a foggy Sunrise
Aerial photography from a helicopter of mount chephren in Banff National Park during sunrise above the fog Photo by Andrew Studer
Aerial photography from a helicopter of mount chephren in Banff National Park during sunrise above the fog Photo by Andrew Studer

Shooting through the glass window of a helicopter can be a nightmare. To avoid glare in your aerial photography, request that the doors be removed ahead of time. Trust me, it’s super funflying without doors.

While your overall flight experience and content will be drastically improved, you’ll also be quite a bit colder so come prepared with a warm jacket and glovesdepending on the season/ locations you’ll be at. Remember that it’s always colder the higher you are so even if it’s summer, be prepared with a jacket if not gloves!

Aerial photography from a helicopter of mount chephren in Banff National Park during sunrise above the fog Photo by Andrew Studer
Aerial photography from a helicopter of mount chephren in Banff National Park during sunrise above the fog Photo by Andrew Studer

Remember to use a polarizing filter! If you happen to be on a flight with the doors on, a polarizing filter will help you avoid glares.

Even if you’re flying doors off, a polarizer will help you reduce glare on lakes and rivers and help you maintain an overall cleaner image. I really enjoy using Benro Filters.

Helicopter Flight over Banff National Park, Canada
Helicopter Flight over Banff National Park, Canada
Michael Shainblum in a Helicopter Flight over Banff National Park, Canada
Michael Shainblum in a Helicopter flight over Banff National Park, Canada

If you’re on a doors-off helicopter flight, It can be hard to safely switch between lenses.
I’ve found that the lens I use most on flights is a 24-70 f/2.8.

You can always bring multiple cameras with different lens setups, just make sure they all have straps! All pilots will require that you have your camera bodies properly secured during the flight.

For aerial flights, I’ve enjoyed using a wrist strap by Osiris & Co.

Aerial photography of Landmannalaugar iceland Photo by Andrew Studer
Aerial photography of Landmannalaugar iceland Photo by Andrew Studer
Aerial photography of two waterfalls on Kauai, Hawaii

Remember to pull some cash before your flight for your pilot once you land. They work hard to keep you safe while you enjoy your flight and deserve a tip.

Aerial Photography of the Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Aerial Photography of the Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Photography of Kalalau Valley, Kauai

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this short tips & Tricks guide.

If you’d like to purchase a print of any of these photos, click on the print shop in the navigation. All profits directly support my aerial photography addiction.

Thanks!


Night photography of the stars over Lone Pine Peak in the Eastern Sierra from Lone Pine, California

Tips for photographing with moonlight

With the recent advancement in cameras’ low light capabilities, photographing the night sky has become increasingly popular. In the summer months on nights with no moon, popular viewpoints become packed with photographers hoping to capture the Milky way Galaxy. And it’s hard to blame them.. the milky way is absolutely stunning and is an excellent subject to photograph. When photographing the milkyway, you usually want little to no moon. That leaves photographers around 5 days per month to capture it throughout the night.

 

 

It can be easy to overlook the potential for a great photo when the moon phase is more than a sliver and the stars and Milkyway are less vivid. While I understand the appeal of photographing the milkyway, I feel like a lot of us can feel held back and limited when it comes to shooting the night sky on nights with a moon. For me, I love how moonlight can subtly enhance the details of a foreground in such a natural and surreal way as well as provide a simple, clean sky with fewer stars.

 

 

Night photography of Mount Hood, Oregon taken from Tom Dick Harry Mountain by Andrew Studer

Tips:

  1. Pay attention to the moon phase. Choose a night with less than a 50% moon. If the moon is closer to being full, try and photograph it as it’s rising or setting. If the moon is closer to being full, I find that it washes out too many of the stars. I use an app called “The Moon” to tell me the moon’s brightness on any given day as wells as set/rise times.
  2. Shoot with your back to the moon!

If you shoot facing away from the moon, you will be able to see more stars and avoid a crazy blown out glow of light. Of course there are exceptions to this but keep in mind that if you want to see the moon, you’ll often need to do extensive exposure blending to avoid intense, blown out highlights.

3. Watch out for shadows!

If you're shooting in a flat landscape and facing away from the moon, your image could have your shadow in it. To combat this, I use my CLT 204 tripod and extend the legs out so that the camera is much lower to the foreground. Then, I’ll set a 10 second delay and walk out of frame so that my shadow isn’t in it at all and the amount of time I spend photoshopping unwanted shadows out is minimal.  If it happens to be a windy night and you worry about stepping away from your camera to do this, remember that you can always add a weight such as a bag to the hook found at the bottom of your center column tog make your tripod even more stable!

  1. Slightly Underexpose your image 

I think that one of the most common mistakes in photographing moonscapes is that photographers expose for the foreground trying to make it as bright as possible.

In turn, the photos they take end up looking like a bright, day time scene. When you're out shooting, keep in mind that you should slightly underexpose your image to maintain that night time look and make the light that is there, even more powerful and surreal.

 

 

  1. A Cooler White Balance is Key!

White Balance, just like exposure can really affect whether or not your photo looks like it was taken mid day or at night. To maintain that night time look, I recommend going with a cooler, more blue toned white balance. Make sure your camera is set to shoot RAW so that you are able to adjust the white balance once you’re back on the computer editing!

 

 

  1. The moon moves! The moon, just like the sun is always moving so keep in mind that your scene could look completely different in just an hours time. To predict the moon’s path and how that can impact your composition, use an app called PhotoPills.

 

 

  1. Composition matters…even more!  Remember that a compelling composition is important for a great image! Use the moonlight to illuminate an interesting foreground to bring your image to a new level! Sometimes including the human element can turn a good photo great!

I hope these tips help you when you’re photographing a moonlit scene and that you consider going out to shoot on nights with a moon! Thanks so much for reading!