Learn Photography

A whole new way to learn photography

I’ve spoken with thousands of people who – despite the beginner or even intermediate courses they’ve taken – are still confused about the basic elements of photography. It’s obvious that many traditional methods of teaching photography just don’t work!

I’ve developed my own style of teaching. It’s based on an artist’s natural instincts of curiosity and discovery which quickly produces dramatic results. Through my many free resources on this site and my photography tutorials, you’ll learn about photography in a whole new way. I will help you take your first few steps the path to creating your own kind of art.

Free Resources

  • Study the Free HDR Tutorial
  • Sign up for the Monthly Newsletter
  • Read Trey’s Camera & Software Reviews
  • Subscribe to Trey’s YouTube Channel
  • Review Trey’s Photography Tips and Tricks

Software you need

I’m constantly trying new things, but I only review stuff that I actually use. That should help keep the clutter down and keep you focused on the best stuff out there. I hope these reviews are of benefit to you in your lifelong adventure of photographic fortune and glory.

  • Aurora HDR 2018 – I developed this software along with Macphun for HDR and general processing. The latest release runs on both Mac and Windows. I also have a free tutorial and a special video tutorial just for Aurora!
  • Luminar Review – Luminar is an extremely powerful and fast photo editor that can do not only the most basic adjustments, but literally millions of “looks” for your photo. It’s extremely easy and fun to use and designed for all skill levels.
  • SmugMug Review – this how I share my photos online… I think SmugMug is the absolute best image portfolio and website tool
  • Plotagraph Review – A Plotagraph is a “looping” photograph. You begin with a SINGLE image (not a movie file), like a JPG, and then you use Plotagraph to “animate” it. The resulting image is a repeating movie file that loops so smoothly, you can’t see the seam. There’s also some crazy new tech on there, like morphing and more.
  • Screenflow Review – the easiest and best video editing and screen recording software for Mac. I also use Telestream’s other product called Wirecast for live streaming on Facebook and Youtube.

I have many more photo software reviews of packages I’ve used and recommend.

Software & Tools

Aurora HDR 2018 combines everything Trey knows about High Dynamic Range photography and takes it light years further. Additionally, Trey has created thousands of different presets for Adobe Lightroom and Aurora HDR. The presets will save you countless hours and give your photos a unique look.

Video Tutorials

Trey’s photography tutorials showcase his unique teaching style combined with amazing videography. He will guide you slowly through the basics or you can jump straight to see his advanced techniques. The video tutorials include in the field instruction and detailed, step-by-step, post-processing workflow.

Photo Adventures

You’re invited to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime photo adventure of epic proportions! You’ll end up with great photos and stories, no matter your skill level.

Helpful eBooks

Helpful eBooks

There is a growing collection of helpful eBooks in our online store that cover everything from Trey’s artistic influences to his more advanced techniques.


Cameras I Recommend

Below is a list of cameras I recommend that should work for any skill level or budget. In addition, I have a more complete list of my camera equipment that covers all the gear I use for my photography.
Google Pixel 2 XL

Good Camera: Google Pixel 2

The Google Pixel 2 mobile phone is AWESOME! It’s the best phone I’ve ever used. Read my review of the Pixel 2 XL. You can buy one unlocked direct from Google. There are two different models, they both have identical specs inside and out except for the size/screen and battery capacity. I recently did a Sony A7r Mark III Review where I sneaked in a Pixel 2 photo. Everyone had trouble finding it and seeing the difference between these two drastically different devices.

Also, I don’t follow scores from DxOMark but if that’s your sort of thing, you’ll see here that the Pixel 2 tops even the new iPhone X. But I can tell just by using it in a variety of conditions and comparing it to photos from friends using the latest iPhone or Samsung. They’re always blown away at the quality of the photos and you can see a bunch of examples in my review.

Better Camera: Sony a6300

Starting at below $999 for the body.

The A6300 is the latest evolution of the high end Sony APS-C models. It features, amongst other great features, enhanced autofocus speed and 4K movie recording. You can read my complete Sony a6000 review, it is the model the A6300 replaces and has many of the same specs. The a6000 series has a number of advantages over the lower-priced a5000 models. It has a built-in electronic viewfinder, more focal points, and faster continuous shooting (11 fps vs 6 fps).

Best Camera: Sony a7R III

Starting at just over $3198

A full-on Sony a7R III Review is here on the site that is full of a ton of sample photos. It’s a great camera and much more affordable than the Hasselblad. I absolutely love it. It has all the power of the giant DSLR systems with comparible specifications at a lower price and smaller size/weight. Its Full-Frame goodness combined with a small mirrorless form factor gives you everything you need. Plus, the camera smarts inside are absolutely insane. Check on the review there to see even more!

Best Drone: DJI Mavic

A few years ago I got a quadcopter and I LOVED it! You can get amazing photos and videos from previously unattainable perspectives.

Back then the tech was a bit complicated, flight times were not great and image quality was decent but still had a bit to go. After a bunch of updates DJI created two amazing products though. The Phantom 4 Pro which has the largest sensor on a consumer drone and the Mavic Pro quadacopter (that’s what my daughter Scarlett calls them!). Here is my Phantom 4 Pro review. It’s a great machine but I think I’m leaning towards the Mavic as my go-to machine due to how compact it is. Review coming soon!

Best 360 Camera: Insta360 One

I’ve tested a bunch of 360 cameras and the Insta360 One is definitely the best so far. I love the auto-stitching and removal of the selfie-stick. This is perhaps a very strange feature to mention, but I like how it makes all that nonsense disappear. The end result is that it has the equivalent feeling of a silent quadcopter floating a few feet away from your head all the time. They also have some cool software that lets you control what the viewer can see in post production. Check out my review for video examples.

My Lenses

I own a pretty good number of lenses. I will put these in the order that you should buy them if are primarily interested in landscape and secondarily interested in people/objects.  Of course, there is no “correct” order, but simply a suggestion.

Note that you do not need all these lenses!

Sony a7R – First Lenses

  • Sony FE 24-105 f/4 G Series (Amazon) – An excellent high end lens that covers a good range. Ideal as a single lens to travel with. See image examples on the Sony a7R III review.
  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great mid-range lens the covers wide to mid-range zooming. See more on the Sony 24-70mm review.
  • Sony FE 24-240 F/3.5-6.3 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is great. What a range! It’s not super-fast, but that’s not a problem for me.
  • Sony FE 16-35 f/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – I’m so excited about this lens! This is the first full-frame wide angle lens that fits the eMount on the Sony a7 line of cameras.

Sony a7R – Other Goodies!

  • Sony Alpha Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – So that you can attach the other Sony full-frame Alpha lenses to your Sony a7R
  • Novoflex Leica Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – Fantastic for attaching any lens that uses the Leica lens mount. WARNING: Do not get the cheaper adapters. I tried them, thinking it was just a piece of metal, but it was not and many of my photos, especially at infinity, were out of focus. Check out my Leica Lens Buying Guide for more info.
  • Nikon F Lens Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – To hook up your Nikon DSLR lenses
  • Canon EF Adaptor (Amazon | B&H Photo) – To hook up your Canon DSLR lenses

Sony A5100 / A6300 Camera – Two Great Lenses

If you are just getting started and want recommendations on your first three lenses, here they are. Often times a camera will come with a “kit lens” that is pretty versatile and can get you a long way. The Sony a6300 comes with a 16-50mm lens that produces great pictures. But there are many lenses that are better for more specialized situations.

  • Sony 55-210mm (Amazon | B&H Photo) – This lens is a little big but its versatility is perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, sports, etc.
  • Sony 10-18 F/4 (Amazon | B&H Photo) – A great lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture. To find out more, read my full Sony 10-18mm Lens Review. Note: This is also a great lens for the Sony A7r Mark 2, giving you the full range of 12-17mm. The edges get a bit ropy, but only hardcore camera nerds look at the edges.

Leica Lens Buying Guide

I’m really getting into using Leica lenses with the Sony a7R. You have to manually focus but you still get focus peaking and all of the other sweet features of the Sony mirrorless system. I’ve created a Leica Lens Buying Guide where I’ll chronicle what I learn and recommend.

All Lens Reviews

I only write reviews for lenses that I used and I recommend.   Below is the full list.

  • Sony FE 24-70mm Review – A very versatile full-frame lens with excellent quality. I keep this lens on my camera 90% of the time now.
  • Sony FE 70-200mm Review – An awesome full-frame zoom lens that I used throughout my trip to Africa.
  • Sony 10-18mm Lens Review – A great lens that gives you maximum wide-angle flexibility for landscapes and architecture.
  • Nikon 14-24 Review – A great wide-angle lens for landscapes and architecture that I use for about 60% of my landscapes
  • Nikon 16mm Fisheye Review – A fun lens that seems to work best when there is just A LOT to capture in a scene and traditional wide angle just can’t cut it.
  • Nikon 28-300 Review – An incredible lens. I currently use it for most of my landscape shots, unless things get really wide. In that case, I use the 14-24 lens.
  • Nikon 24-70 Review – Perfect for mid-range stuff like landscapes, birthdays, families, close-up sports, events, holiday cheer, swinger parties
  • Nikon 50mm Review – Ideal for cute children, close-up objects where you like a blurry background, friends, interventions
  • Nikon 70-200 Review – A great lens for things that are kinda far away, like animals or sports or that girl you are stalking
  • Nikon 85mm Review – Incredible for people shots. Just. Incredible.
  • Nikon 200-400 Review – A super-zoom lens, perfect for wildlife and other shots from a distance.
  • Nikon 18-200 Review – A great all-around lens for wide-angle and zoom.  Just getting started?  This is what you need!

Want to try out a lens?  See my Lens Rental review of BorrowLenses.com – Netflix for lenses!


I only review and recommend software and hardware that I actually use. Because I am viewed as a trusted expert in their software, I end up sending the manufacturers of these applications massive traffic. Often, some of these companies will also be financial sponsors. Whether or not they are sponsors, I only use the best of breed and I recommend them accordingly.

  • Hello Trey, would you be posting a tutorial from the ground up?, including lucisart and noiseware?—>Thanks a lot!


  • I will be making a Lucisart tutorial soon — I did not think about doing a Noiseware one because it seems pretty easy to use… and there are so many sliders, I can’t imagine how I would write a good tutorial! Other than just to say, “move around the sliders until it looks good”!

  • amazing tutorial my friend 🙂

    but I would like to know ,,
    I use HDR for afternoon photography because I think its really difficult to do it in the night for example

    but for u it seems pretty east ,, so how can I do HDR for night shot and how many exposure do I need ?

    the sam question goes for “sunset & sunrise” photography?

    question 2 . how di capture differnt expouesrs ? is it with Auto bracket ,, or by changing the speed shutter by urself ?

    and thanks a lot 🙂

  • hey there – night shots still depend on the lights around the area… if the middle exposure is at about 15 or 10 secs (with your ISO as low as possible, of course), then you probably only need 3 exposures.

    I autobracket most everything… except if there are extraordinary situations.

  • Hi Trey,

    It is always a pleasure to look at your daily post with my first my coffee of the day (I am in Montreal).

    I already have a Pixel Post blog and I am planning to re-write it using WordPress.

    I don’t want to ask you to write a tutorial on WordPress, but I am curious to know how you managed to publish a new Post and make so that the same post appeared automatically under the proper category.

    Thanks for your great pictures.

    Jean Pierre Dagenais

  • Jean – thanks! 🙂 I have on my “to do” list to make a post about how to make a blog…! I hope to get to it someday soon..

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  • Maxine

    Hi Trey, new to photography here. I have a question, when you show and talk about Light room, what program are you using, or what should I buy that has this light room? second question should I be using a hood for my camera as a beginner? do you recommend a certain type of hood? Thank you so Much, Maxine

  • Hi Maxine,

    Lightroom is its own program:


    I can’t answer the hood question very well for you, I’m afraid! My advice would be to read up on what a hood does:



    Then shoot without it, and if you run into the problems that the hood is designed to fix, start using it!

  • Maxine

    Thank you Luke, appreciate it!

  • Ajay Jain

    Very informative site for traveler and photography lovers…

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  • GulfCoastCharlie

    Your site and photos are great. I was curious where you get your printing done, or if you have various vendors for that?

  • MLobaugh

    Can you direct me to specific info you offer about image sharpening? I’ve been working on my HDR technique for about a year. I believe I have the exposures and processing down, but I’ve been really dissatisfied with the overall sharpness and clarity.

  • Photography Studies

    Ive added a free tutorial to my photography site. I teach how to light a portrait using natural lighting and then how to use one side of the face to create a new portrait. It shows how symmetrical our faces are. A fun tutorial my students have had fun exploring it.


    Cheers David Ewing Photography.

  • Jeremy Elderfield

    Hi Trey, and the rest of the crew. I have a Sony NEX-6 which I’m really happy with but currently only have the stock lens which i find limiting in respect of the depth of field and sharpness. could you suggest a good lens to try, my budget is £300.

  • stan

    what is the best lens to first buy for Sony A&R?

  • stan

    Sorry Best lens to first buy for SONYA7R. –thanks

  • stan

    I use IPHOTO right now. Should I upgrade to Lighthouse? I don’t know much about it but heard that its a lot better than IPHOTO. I have all MACs (no PCs) I heard that Apple is doing away with IPHOTO and Aperture App?? Appreciate any advice.

  • There are so many options for printing now days! You can always find a decent discount at http://www.printdealsguy.com never pay the “regular” price. Can even get stuff free on a regular basis. My preference though is MPIX.

  • summersetretrievers

    Wondering what you would recommend to bring to process the photos on. I’ve always been hesitant to attend workshops because I don’t have a laptop do all my processing on my home computer.

  • Well, I think any laptop will be great… I prefer to edit at home too, but sometimes on the road it is very fun to process a few photos in the evenings and whatnot! 🙂

  • You mean Lightroom, yes? Then yes, you should upgrade for sure! And yes, Aperture has been discontinued.

  • Joe

    I bought your tutorials and love them, very impressive. I’d really like to know how you did the Christmas scene with your kids. I’d appreciate any tips…thanks Joe

  • Jeremie Dupont

    any thoughts or experience with the Fujifilm XT-1, I know @elia Locardi is a big fan. Any thoughts would be great. Keep up the good work!

  • I don’t know much about it, sadly

  • Bruce McGrath

    G’day Trey, watched your video on file organisation. Picked up a copy of Perfect Browse… Awesome purchase, now I feel like I’m getting some kind of order to my files ( a drop in the ocean at 25k file, but finding many duplicates ). Thanks.
    Comment on your presentation… Your glasses and the reflection back from the screen ! I reckon there must be glasses made the are none reflective !!! The blue off the iMac can make you look a bit spooky. ha ha. It won’t stop be watching, but I do find it distracting.
    Keep ’em coming
    Thank cobba

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  • Very useful for photography

    1-Click Styled Develop Presets + Bonus “Easy Adjust” Presets Collection

  • Ratchaya Chayangsu

    Hello Mr. Ratcliff. I’m interesting in sony a7R and a7ii. However, 270 shot per battery is quite lesser than Nikon or Canon FF which is about 800. What is your solution when you have a trip? Carry more battery? Thank you in advance.

  • yes- A7r and more batteries ! 🙂

  • Ratchaya Chayangsu

    Thank for you rep @treyratcliff and one more question please.
    What will you choose if your shooting are hobby like me? A7r over A7ii? Thank you.

  • keith shuley

    Ray: I am new to Photoshop. Purchased your textures and don’t see how I “import” the textures into Photoshop. Do you have instructions somewhere?

  • molly ebner

    I’ve been debating the same thing! @treyratcliff:disqus

  • Rajendra Kumar

    I bought Sony A7r,from your inspiration about 1 year back but their sensors are more prone to dust & smudges,specially in Mumbai humid atmosphere.So,how to clean the Sony a7r sensor& what products we should use to clean them.

  • Bruce Christianson

    @treyratcliff What camera do you recommend for RC Aerial Photography?

  • Emre Kilic

    Hi Tray. I hear that the downside of Sony camera is the fact that there arent enough lenses and you lose all auto focus functions if you use other brand lenses with mount. Is this a legitimate concern? I was going for a Nikon D610, a FF camera, but offered a Fuji Xt-1, a mirrorless crop sensor camera. apparently it is one of the best when it comes to shooting in low light. I already have a crop sensor camera and was looking forward to get a FF but this camera is smaller, cheaper and supposedly perform better at night. What would you choose between a crop sensor or FF? Thank you in advance man. Your photos on ChromeCast backdrop is the reason I started shooting. Tnx again.

  • Tosi-Photography

    HI TRAY,
    I was an happy photographer in Switzerland who just purchased the Aurora HDR Pro for Mac,but only once I downloaded the new software it told me that I needed a Os 10.9 or higher to be able to use it ( I use Os10.8.5 on my portable).

    This is a pice of important infos that it wasn’t avelable on your advertising of the up coming Aurora HDR Pro . . . .wthat I am supposed to do now?. . . . am I forced to do an upgrade on my mac (only for Aurora) or there is a version/solution that works with Os 10.8.5 . . . .?
    Please let me know.
    P. Tosi

  • Hi there –
    So sorry about this and for the delay in responding. Please drop me a line at [email protected] and we can talk about it.

  • Matt Kaipuke

    Great Post, very informative

  • kathy wampner

    i’m curious if i purchase the aurora HDR bundle will that only work on one iMac? Reason I ask is I have the older iMac and I may down the road upgrade to the newest desktop iMac.

  • Hi Kathy – you get up to five of your own machines on the same license.

  • kathy wampner

    Thanks that helps A LOT. Also how long will this be on sale?

  • Hi Kathy,

    Should be about another week-and-a-half on the current promotion.

  • Wow ! how much informative post about learn photography. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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  • Pixelgreat

    Lots to absorb! Will read through, many thanks!

  • Keith Thirgood

    For a variety of reasons, Rosetta for a start, I have stuck with OS X 10.6.8. I downloaded the free trial and it says I cannot use this with my version of OS X. No workaround?

  • Hi Keith – are you referring to Aurora? Unfortunately it needs 10.9.5 or later. Sorry about that!

  • Mememom

    I purchased the Creative Kit 2016 a few months ago. I have not had a whole lot of success with it. I am now trying the Aurora HDR Pro free trial to see if this is better. Can I switch over to this or must I pay again?

  • Stu – SIC

    Hi, the best thing to do would be contact MacPhun. We don’t have any control over their Creative Kit and are only involved in Aurora.

    If you have any questions about Aurora, or need any tips. Just give us a shout!

  • Mememom

    Thank you, Stu. I will do that.

  • Royi

    Hi Terry,
    I wonder, have you ever tried “Wow Frequency Equalizer Pro” Plug In?
    How is it compared to the built in tools of Nik’s Software?
    I’m searching for a review on that.

    It seems to have great features for Landscape Photography.

    Amazing Blog and Photos!

  • Stu – SIC

    Hey, Trey is on the move at the moment but I don’t ever remember him mentioning this plugin… so I don’t think he has tried it. Either way, you can never have too many options for post processing an image. 😀

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  • Thanks for the detailed post. You have provide almost everything that a beginner need to know before start learning photography. I am also a newbies in photography and learn a lot from your post.

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  • Jestaplo Photography

    Hi Trey,
    I am photographer at http://www.jestaplophotography.com/
    Most of us use Canon Lenses and Cameras, But now we are looking to upgrade to Sony since in last few years Canon hasn’t come up with any innovations, on the other hand Sony has given some amazing cameras(Alpha series). The only concern we have is if we upgrade to Sony Cameras, Will we be able to use our good old Canon lenses on them?
    I have heard that its not a problem Canon Lenses work fine on Sony bodies with adapters.
    Whats your say?

  • Stu – SIC

    Hey, yes. Canon lenses will work fine. You’ll want to use something like the A7 series. 🙂

  • Jestaplo Photography

    thanks 🙂

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