PhotoPills Mammoth Lakes 1-Day Bootcamp!

PhotoPills Mammoth Lakes 1-Day Bootcamp!


Get ready to learn how to plan, shoot, and edit any photo you imagine with the Sun, the Moon, and the Milky Way.

Joshua Cripps from Pro Photo Tips will give you all you need to nail your shots, from equipment to camera settings and editing. And Rafael (the bard) from the PhotoPills team will teach you how to use the PhotoPills app to plan your photo ideas. So you’re always at the right place at the right time, to capture the scene you want, to tell the story you want.

After the theory class, we’ll get to practice in the field till dawn.


10 – 11am: Milky Way and Star Trails Planning with PhotoPills

11 – 12:30am: Milky Way Photography and Post Processing

Break for Lunch

2 – 3:30pm: Sun and Moon Planning with PhotoPills

3:30 – 5pm: Long Exposure with Filters

5 – 6pm: Examples and Q&A

Break for Dinner

7:30 pm Photo escape near Mammoth lakes (Sunset and Milky Way)

AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens Sample Photos & First Look

Today Nikon announced the release of the brand new AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens. I’m excited to say that I had the honor and privilege of once again working with Nikon to create images for the launch of this lens.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills under a full moon, Nikon D810. ISO100, f/8, 8mm, 125 seconds.

This was an incredible shoot to be a part of as it took place in one of the most beautiful areas of the world: southern Patagonia. Thanks to the dramatic landscapes and topsy-turvy weather I experienced during the shoot I was able to create quite a few interesting images with this lens. However I also have to give a massive amount of credit for the success of the shoot to the creative director, Soichi Hayashi. It’s amazing to work with someone who has such respect for and faith in your work, to give you the freedom to create the photos you want while also providing excellent technical and creative feedback and ideas. Thank you very very much, Soichi.

Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Los Cuernos and Paine Grande at sunrise. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4, 11mm, 1/200 sec.

The shoot was very loose, and the goal was simple: push the lens to its limits and discover its potential for landscape photography.

Skottsberg Blue, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Laguna Skottsberg, Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 15mm, 2.5 sec.

First, let me talk a little about the technical qualities of the lens. Pixel peepers will be happy to know that the lens itself is incredibly sharp, with excellent depth of field, even wide-open. It handles chromatic aberration well and has great color and contrast rendition. And with the new nano-crystal coat, flares and ghosts are virtually eliminated.

Lago Huemul, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Glacier Huemul, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4, 11mm, 1/2500 sec.

But as technically sound as the lens is, I was personally more interested in the artistic applications. Because a fisheye lens is not typically thought of as landscape lens I wanted to take the opportunity to dig into the versatility and unique perspectives of this new tool. If you’ve never used a fisheye lens before the first thing that will strike you is of course the fisheye perspective. Straight lines become wildly curved, objects close to the lens are exaggerated, and objects in the background are diminished.

Las Torres, Torres Del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Las Torres. Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/8, 8mm, 1/250 sec.

Valley Frances, Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Valley Frances, Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/3.5, 8mm, 1/800 sec.


And while the new Nikkor lens demonstrates all these classical fisheye attributes, it’s not a gimmick or a novelty. I quickly discovered that the neck-stretching perspective and fisheye distortion could be used creatively to create compelling, and otherwise-impossible, landscape imagery.

For example, on a full-frame body, the lens has a field of view of 180°. At 8mm, that gives you a fully circular image. At 15mm, the image fills the frame, but you still have almost 180° from corner to corner. This translates to roughly 150° across the frame. 150 degrees!! That’s huge! That means you can shoot panoramic images in a single frame. No stitching required.

Perito Mereno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon D810 + Nikkor. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/5000 sec., Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Perito Mereno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon D810 + AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/5000 sec.

Here’s a shot of the exact same scene using my AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens at 18mm for comparison.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

The exact same scene shot at 18mm on the AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED. Notice the massive increase in scale in the fisheye shot.


Single shot panorama of the Salto Grande waterfall in Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/5.6, 15mm, 1/400 sec., Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Single shot panorama of the Salto Grande waterfall in Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/5.6, 15mm, 1/400 sec., Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

In addition to the single-shot panoramics, the massive perspective of the lens gives you an opportunity to shoot foreground elements from extremely close and still get them entirely within the frame. For this photo I estimate that I was approximately 18″ away from the base of the tree, and that the tree is 7-8 feet tall.

Twisted tree, Torres del Paine National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO100, f/11, 15mm, 1/30 sec.

The following photo was taken inside an ice tunnel in the Perito Moreno glacier. Even though the tunnel isn’t large the fisheye lens gives an immersive, wrap-around look.

Ice cave, Perito Moreno Glacier, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 15mm, 1/320 sec.

And speaking of close, the minimum focus distance for this fisheye lens is 16 cm. Which means it can function as an incredibly unique macro lens as well.

Bumblebee and flower macro, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/800 sec.

One other cool thing about this fisheye lens is because of the way it renders real-world geometry, circular objects in the real world look like circles through the lens. Unlikely rectilinear ultra-wide lenses which turn circles into oblong ovals near the corners, this lens does a much better job of reproducing circles as circles. Here you can see a halo from the setting sun is almost perfectly circular despite being close to the edge of the frame.

Solar halo, Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO64, f/8, 15mm, 1/125 sec.

Finally, let’s look at the heart of the fisheye distortion for this lens: straight lines in real life bend away from the center of the image frame. Because of that I found it very easy to create natural frames within a photo as shown below. In this case the trees in the upper right and lower left are actually parallel to each other, growing straight up out of the ground. But by laying down on the ground and shooting up I could easily wrap both of them around the interesting tree and clouds in the center of the frame.

Forest, Torres del Paine, NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D500. ISO100, f/8, 11mm, 1/160 sec.

Even within the confines of a dense forest I found this distortion to create a very pleasing effect, almost like the lines are wrapping around the central subject and giving it a visual hug. For example with this striking tree. The subtle curving of the branches and rocks around it do a great job of framing the main subject:

Forest, Torres del Paine National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4, 11mm, 1/80 sec.

I also spent a few days creating lots of timelapse video using the lens.

And to cap things off here are a few more of my favorite images shot using the new AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED. It’s a really fun lens to use, and surprisingly cool and versatile for landscape photography. And I personally can’t wait to buy a copy for myself. Hope you enjoyed seeing some of these first shots. If you have any questions about the lens let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Mt Fitz Roy, Argentina. Nikon D500 . ISO100, f/4.5, 13mm, 1/3200 sec, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Mt Fitz Roy, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4.5, 13mm, 1/3200 sec.

Lago Grey, Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Lago Grey, Torres del Paine NP. D500. ISO100, f/4.5, 11mm, 1/2000 sec.

Sunburst, Torres del Paine National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Sunburst, Torres del Paine National Park. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/8, 15mm, 1/4000 sec.

Crevasses, Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Crevasses, Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO11, f/4, 11mm, 1/1600 sec.

Misty morning at Laguna Torre, Los Glaciares National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Misty morning at Laguna Torre, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4.5, 14mm, 1/8 sec.

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine NP, Chile, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/8, 15mm, 1/2000 sec.

Trees, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 8mm, 1/100 sec, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Trees, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 8mm, 1/100 sec.

Forest sunburst, Torres del Paine NP, Chile, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO125, f/11, 15mm, 1/80 sec.

Lago de Los Tres, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/1250 sec. Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Lago de Los Tres, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/1250 sec.

My Best of 2016

Holy crap, what a year! This was my most accomplished year so far as a photographer, in terms of travel, photography, and new projects. It seems like I rarely had a moment’s rest, and indeed, I spent about half of the year on the road. Exhausting and frantic, but incredible fun, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. So if you’ll indulge me I’d like to share with you the highlights of my 2016.

January 2016

Having moved to the ski town of Mammoth Lakes in late 2015 I decided I was going to learn to love the winter. As part of that effort I took a winter mountaineering skills course in January in order to feel more comfortable in the backcountry in the snow. And while the course itself had nothing to do with photography, it opened up doors to journeys and adventures in the mountains in the future. Can’t wait to see where those skills will take me and my photography.


February 2016

Here’s where the traveling began. My buddy, Scott, is a white water rafting guide and for a few years he spent the North American winters down in Chile, guiding on the Futaleufu River. He had extended an open invitation to me so in February I decided to take the opportunity to visit him and do some rafting, but also to explore the northern reaches of Chilean Patagonia. My sister also came along, which was exciting as it was her first international trip.


Futaleufu River

Patagonia is truly as spectacular as everyone says, and though my limited time meant I couldn’t get to the popular and dramatic south, I was able to spend quality time in the very northern part of Patagonia. My time there was highlighted by a demanding but lovely 4-day trek through the forests and mountains of Cerro Castillo National Reserve. Think glaciers, jagged peaks, azure rivers, and lenticular clouds and you’ll get the idea.

Patagonia Lenticular Clouds

March 2016

In March I found myself back in California, albeit briefly. However, during the few weeks I was home Death Valley’s incredible superbloom occurred. October 2015’s insane rain and flooding set the stage and provided the perfect kind of moisture for millions of wildflowers to bloom once spring rolled around. I was fortunate to visit for a weekend during the peak of the bloom when both the flowers on the ground and the clouds in the sky put on a spectacular show.

April 2016

As spring continued to develop in the north hemisphere it was time for me to travel to the southern to visit one of my favorite places on Earth: New Zealand. Jim Patterson and I were there to lead a 12-day South Island Photography Workshop, and I used the opportunity to create a 6-week photo safari for myself. The workshop kicked things off in gobsmacking style, with some of the best conditions I’ve ever experienced in NZ. Rainbows, reflections, electric sunrises, god rays…you name it, we shot it!

After the workshop ended I was fortunate to meet a wonderful traveling partner in the form of a French ultra runner named Jessica. We spent the next 3.5 weeks traveling the South Island together getting into all kinds of adventures, the highlights being a cruise through Doubtful Sound, and an ill-timed trip to the Mueller Hut in Mt Cook National Park, where we got stuck for three days during a blizzard and ultimately had to be rescued by helicopter. Those three days held some frightful moments, but also some breathtakingly gorgeous ones.

May 2016

In late May I returned from New Zealand and was able to spend a few quiet days at home enjoying the Eastern Sierra, some late spring snowboarding, and a few local photo outings.


June 2016

My summer kicked off with a whirlwind of domestic trips. First was a visit to the Palouse region of Eastern Washington for another workshop. It was my first time in the area and I was completely floored. I typically don’t photograph man-made landscapes but the rolling ag fields of the Palouse are utterly mesmerizing.


After our workshop in the Palouse I headed east and made my first visit to Glacier National Park in Montana. This place is stunning, and that is an understatement. I was invited to the park by Fusion Network to help them produce a short video about climate change and the national parks. Once the shoot was wrapped I met up with my friend Elisabeth and we trekked out on a couple of fun backpacking trips through Glacier’s jaw-dropping scenery. It’s safe to say it’s a park I’ll be visiting again.

July 2016

In early July I was back home for a few weeks and I took advantage of the downtime to head out on a few pack trips into my beloved Sierra backcountry. The first was up Big Pine Creek, to the Sierra’s largest glacier, the Palisade Glacier. It’s one of the few places in the Sierra where the lakes contain glacial milt, and as a consequence their green color has to be seen to be believed.

Temple Crag

A week later my sister and I made the leg- and lung-burning ascent to Sailor Lake in the Sabrina Basin, high above Bishop, California. The mosquitoes were as numerous as I’ve ever experienced in the Sierra, but so were the stars, so everything balanced out.

In the second half of the month I flew to Europe to explore one of my long-time travel dream destinations, the Dolomites in Italy. This section of the Alps is a magnificent array of mountain spires and the scenery is remarkable everywhere you look. In addition, access is incredibly easy in the Dolomites, meaning with a few short walks it was possible to be in breathtaking mountain cathedrals.

August 2016

In August I continued my trip in Europe, but shifted the focus away from photography and towards being social. I was able to meet up with friends in Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Germany, and the Netherlands. And finally I made my way to France to reconnect with Jessica, my traveling partner from New Zealand. Together we journeyed into the Pyrenees and climbed Vignemale, the highest peak in that range.

September 2016

I spent the entire month of September at home in Mammoth Lakes enjoying some down time, working on some projects behind the scenes, and going on local excursions. I was honored to be asked to speak at an Instameet at the beginning of the month, and at the end of month I completed a climbing objective of mine and stood atop Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park.

October 2016

We kicked off October with another workshop, this time in the Eastern Sierra, chasing fall color.

Then immediately after the workshop wrapped, I packed my bags and headed for Utah. My friend Julia had planned a SW trip (all the way from Hungary!) and had invited me to go along. It was my first time back to Utah in over five years and I was excited to see all that red rock again. We both wanted to visit areas we hadn’t been to before and consequently ended up doing some technical canyoneering in Zion (replete with freezing cold water), some backpacking in Escalante, and some back road driving in Capitol Reef. The trip was varied, incredibly fun, and sensationally beautiful.

At the end of October I visited Photo Plus Expo for the third time to see old friends and make lots of new ones.

In October I also launched my newest passion project, the Nature Photography Academy. It’s a place where photographers can access the absolute best photography and post processing video courses in order to really gain a deep understanding of what it takes to produce beautiful landscape imagery.

November 2016

In early November I led a small workshop in that most beautiful of parks, Yosemite. Despite the chronically sunny skies we found an incredible abundance of things to photograph, and were treated to at least one nice light show.

Half Dome Olmsted Point

Then in the middle of the month I was able to head back to Utah for a commercial shoot. As a landscape photographer I rarely am hired specifically to shoot, so this was an incredibly exciting opportunity. I can’t share any of the project details yet, but hopefully within the next month or two I’ll be putting up photos and stories about the shoot.

December 2016

And that brings us all the way to the end of the year! Jim and I had one last, fun-filled workshop in Death Valley, a park I grow to love more every time I visit it. And that’s pretty much all she wrote, aside from a few local shoots here and there.


I’m exhausted now just writing about and remembering this year. I can’t believe I actually got to live it as well. I’m endlessly grateful for the wonderful experiences I had this year, for the people I met, the friends and family I spent time with, and for everyone out there who’s supported me as a photographer. I hope your 2016 was amazing, and that your 2017 will be even better.

Until next time, be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!



Adventure4Life Epic Experience Challenge

Josh Cripps' Support for Epic Experience

Those who know me know that I love a good adventure. But I also love encouraging others to explore and have adventures of their own. And I don’t think that anyone should be prevented from enjoying the experience of being in nature, pushing their limits. In fact, I think it’s one of the greatest gifts we have in life to explore the amazing world in which we live, and push ourselves in the process.

Recently I was asked to join a team of 25 inspiring young adventurers, explorers, and athletes who are banding together to raise money for something called Epic Experience. It’s a hugely inspiring group of climbers, runners, paddlers, and artists and I was humbled to join their ranks for Epic Experience. The aim of Epic Experience is to put on all-expenses-paid outdoor adventure camps for cancer fighters and survivors. At the camps, the participants get to kayak, hike, do yoga, horseback ride, build snow caves, and do lots of cool adventurey stuff. I see it as a chance for folks who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be outdoors and reaffirm the beauty of life.

My team, Adventure4Life, has given itself the goal of raising $25,000, which covers the costs of putting on one complete camp, including travel, lodging, and adventures for 12-13 cancer fighters and caregivers. As part of the team of 25, my individual goal is to raise at least $1,000 for the cause. To that end I’ll be hiking 60+ miles through Yosemite for this Epic Experience project, driven on by your support, in order to help cancer fighters experience the incredible wonder, fulfillment, and joy that having outdoor adventures brings.

Here’s how it works: for every $20 donated I’ll hike one mile in the park during the week of July 22nd. In other words, the more donations, the farther I go. Want me to hike a mile in your name? Donate $20. Want me to hoof it five miles for you? Throw down a hundred. Since I’m aiming for $1000 for the Epic Experience camp, if you do the math that means I’ll be doing 50 miles of hiking in the park. But as an extra incentive, if I make it all the way to $1000, I’ll add a bonus 10 miles to my total, bringing it up to 60 miles of hiking in Yosemite.

But am I going to stop there? Nope! If we keep going past $1000, I’ll keep hiking. Can you get me to hike 100 miles in Yosemite? Let’s find out! I’m also going to be asking you all for suggestions of which trails to take during my hiking adventure. And I’ll be taking tons of pictures and videos along the way so if you want to see me on your favorite trail make your voice heard!

Personally I think this will be an awesome challenge and goal, and I’d love for you to help me get there. To donate please visit my fundraising page:

Josh Cripps' Support for Epic Experience

Hole in the Wall Beach Blowhole

Normally you’re unlikely to catch me photographing the coast on a sunny day. But on Saturday, March 23rd, I had two reasons for going out: 1) There was a Bay Area photowalk at Hole in the Wall beach and I wanted to go fraternize with some fellow photographers, and 2) I had a new filter to test out (more on that later). Arriving at the beach I set off for the south end, which is by far my favorite section of the beach due to its dramatic rocky stacks, shelves, and fingers. I set up on one of said fingers and started doing some test shots. While I was thus engaged I started hearing a large Ba-Woosh! sound from behind me and feeling little droplets of water strike the back of my neck. My curiosity got the better of me and I walked over to the far side of the rocky finger to investigate. And what should I find but a tiny slit in the rocks, perfectly poised to catch the crashing waves and redirect their energy into a waterspout that often reached 20 feet high. I’ve been to Hole in Wall countless times but it was the first time I ever saw that water spout. Which just goes to show you why seascape photography is so much fun: the coast is always changing and there’s always something new to shoot. If you want to see the spout, I recommend going when the tide is around +3 feet. As to the location, head to the second set of rocky shelves south of the big seastack (aka Panther Rock) and wait for the big Ba-woosh!

Hole in the Wall Beach Blowhole, Santa Cruz, California