On “Popular” Web Photography

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Jan 26 2015

Photograph Enveloped in Sandstone by Lisa Bettany on 500px

Enveloped in Sandstone by Lisa Bettany on 500px

A response to “Will the Real Landscape Photography Please Stand Up?” by Ugo Cei.

As one of the photographers of those “popular” photos that left the author of this post “cold as a stone“, I have to say that not all photography is aspiring to be high art. Sometimes a photo is just a memory, or a moment, or in the case of my photo of Antelope Canyon, an attempt at taking a sweet photo of a cool location. I took that photo 2 years ago when I was just learning to how take landscape photos. I actually thought I hadn’t gotten a shot of the canyon because I was such an amateur at the time and I was completely overwhelmed by the location and trying to shimmy through the canyon with my tripod in tow.

I recently revisited my photos and discovered this shot. I was pleased as punch after I worked on it for a while in post and discovered that my attempts to shoot an incredible location weren’t completely amiss.

I certainly aim to tell a story with my photos, or to emote something. I definitely feel something when I take them. But, I’m not a true artist yet. That takes years and a commitment that I have not been able to give because like most aspiring photographers, I have a a day job. One day, I might be good enough to emote something with a fish-eye shot of a canyon. For now, let me just say, “Whoa, this is super cool”.

For me, this photo was an early triumph in my landscape career and I wanted to share it with my followers to inspire them. With every post I feel like I’m saying, “Hey you can do this to — here are the settings I used, here’s how I did it, now go out there and get it for yourself!” The aim for me in posting an image is not to become more “popular”, but to inspire others. I receive hundreds of emails from people who are inspired to become photographers because they like a photo of mine, and to me that is the real benefit of reaching a huge audience on 500px.

I think what is really making the author rant, is the state of photography on the web. I’m not a fan of the fake photoshopped hot air balloons in neon coloured skies either, but hey, they look cool on my iPhone. And that is what the majority of people are doing. Scrolling through thousands upon thousands of images on their phones in between conversations and iced lattes. If you want to be viewed in such a sea of media, you have to go big, or go home.

You don’t have to play along with your own work. Just because the cool kids are doing it doesn’t mean you have to too. Many don’t. Even some of those popular 500px photographers remain true to their vision by posting moody, dark, deeply emotive work. But those are the professionals. These people are full-time, hard-core, bad-to-the-bone landscape photographers with several books and gallery showings under their belts. The rest of us are just landscape photographers-in-training.

Every few months, I too feel the pressure of conforming to the bright and shiny epic shots that are so popular these days that I hide away in my cave of disillusionment and stop posting online. I vow to only take artsy black and white photos that “mean something”. After a few months of this depressive behaviour which frankly results more in me watching every sad documentary on Netflix, than producing true art, I get over myself. I realize that trekking through a crazy slot canyon in Arizona to take a stunning, glittering, awe-inspiring is pretty freaking cool. Everyone with the means and ability should go to that exact spot and experience that incredible place and take their own amazing shot.

I say embrace it all: The good, the bad, & the ridiculous. A bunch of over-saturated sunsets aren’t going to ruin the art form of photography. It may hurt your eyes a little, but as a photographer you are constantly learning and growing. Everyone starts their journey into Lightroom and Photoshop by over-saturating their sunsets and cranking the clarity. But, sharing your work in it’s development stages is how we get better. These “popular” photos may not all be “art”, but everyone of those photographers is creating something. And to me, that deserves respect.
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In today’s world, everyone has a camera in their pocket. If I can help even one person get off their couch and go take a photo that they are so proud of that they share on 500px and it’s so good that it gets thousands of views and as a result, they feel encouraged to continue their journey as a photographer, well then I’ve done my job as one of the “popular” photographers on the web.

8 iPhone Comparison

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Sep 23 2014

Photograph 8 iPhone Cameras by Lisa Bettany on 500px

In the past seven years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The iPhone 6 is no different. Besides being faster to shoot and easier to focus, the images taken with the iPhone 6 camera show greater detail and are significantly better in low-light.

In this follow-up post to my iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 comparisons, I present an 8 iPhone comparison from all iPhone versions taken with Camera+ including, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 in a variety of situations to test the camera’s capabilities.

Click the link to head over to my post on snap snap snap!

8 iPhones comparison behind the scenes

Introducing my new photo app, MagiCam

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Jun 18 2014


Link to the iTunes store

We just marked our 4 year anniversary for Camera+ (12 million sold!) by launching a new, simply awesome, camera app called MagiCam. This app was a pure joy to create with the other members of the tap tap tap super team. All the details of the app and a few precious moments involving a hotdog with too much mustard & a goat selfie are in the video above.

MagiCam is our response to users who wanted a simple, clean, one-touch camera app with the power of Camera+, but without all the sliders and buttons. All the complex editing happens background, so that users have a seamless experience from snapping their photos to sharing them. MagiCam isn’t replacing Camera+, in fact we have big things planned for both apps in the future.

As for me, I am enjoying being back in my home town of Victoria, BC, living with my fiancé amongst the trees, ocean, and wildlife that knocks on my door every night for a midnight snack. I’m talking about you, Crumsby the Raccoon!

Special thanks to the awesome Dave Wallace of Innonvate Imageworks who filmed and edited this video with lightning speed!

Lake Minnewanka Stars

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Jan 25 2014


Lake Minnewanka Stars by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com


View large on 500px

I saw stars! I was in the Canadian Rockies this past week and I completely fell in love with the landscapes around Banff and Lake Louise. I ran myself ragged photographing from sunrise to sunset and sometime after to capture the stars. I was fortunate to have some of the best weather they have seen in months.

This was my very last shot just hours before my flight from Calgary. I couldn’t help grabbing a few last star shots above Mount Inglismaldie on a chilly -10C evening on a semi-melted slushy lake. It was bubbling and cracking under my feet as I took this shot. In hindsight, I was very fortunate to not fall in… Mountain photography is not for the faint of heart.

Mystic Beach Cave

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Jan 8 2014


Mystic Beach Cave by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com

A view of yesterday’s shoot at Mystic Beach on the Juan de Fuca Trail, Vancouver Island from inside an epic cave. It was an incredible location for landscape and star photography.

I rarely use my 15mm fisheye lens because most of the time, it’s, well, too fishy , but for things like this, it’s the coolest lens in my bag!

Tantalus Mountain Range

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Jan 1 2014


Tantalus Mountain Range by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com

Happy 2014!

Here’s to a new year of adventure, inspiration & laughter! The possibilities are endless.

Festive Ornaments

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Dec 21 2013


Festive Ornaments by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com

Canon 5DMK3+100mm f/2.8L, 3.2s at f/14, ISO 200.

It’s decorating time! I think I spend more time photographing my ornaments than actually decorating! Little tip: To get really sharp images of your decorations in low light, you need to use a tripod. I have tried and failed so many times without one.

Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii

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Dec 21 2013


Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com

Canon 5DMK3+16-35mm, 30seconds at f/5.0, ISO 200.

Kīlauea Volcano bubbles and smokes into the night sky. This was actually a challenging photo to take. It was pitch black and I ended up hiking into the bush to get some trees as foreground elements. Without them the photo was dull and lifeless. I’m glad I packed my headlamp!!

Sunset waves, Hanakao’o Beach, Maui

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Dec 20 2013

Sunset at Hanakao'o Beach, Maui by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com

Canon 5DMK3+16-35mm+ND filter +2, 0.4s at f/9.0, ISO 100. Tripod: MeFoto DayTrip.

Waves at shoreline, Hanakao’o Beach, Maui with Lanai in the background. I got very wet taking this photo big waves are sneaky!

Catch me if you can…

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Dec 20 2013


Catch me if you can... by Lisa Bettany on 500px.com

Canon 5DMK3 + 16-35mm, 1/250 at f/8.0, ISO 200.

I was just about to give up on this shot when a young girl ran in front of my lens making an average sunset shot in Maui much more magical.