Tom Bol

Tom Bol

Creative, outgoing, detailed, funny. This is how clients describe Tom and his crew. His career began with a journalism degree and wanderlust. It continues with portraits, edgy light, and restless creative energy. He often logs over 20,000 road trip miles a year creating travel and adventure images. Not to mention airplanes. He loves espresso, grunge bands, desert sunsets, and exploring light.

Light Transformations

with Tom Bol

All photographers are students of light. Without light, there is no image. Landscape photographers get up at the crack of dawn to capture crimson sun rays as they scroll down jagged peaks. Sports photographers dial up their ISO to 6400 to freeze a slam dunk while working in low-light arenas. And wedding photographers fire speedlights to backlight the first dance between bride and groom. The quality and style of lighting directly affects what these photographers capture. In some situations, we can control the light, while in other scenarios, we are at nature’s discretion for interesting ligh...

Light Transformations close

All photographers are students of light. Without light, there is no image. Landscape photographers get up at the crack of dawn to capture crimson sun rays as they scroll down jagged peaks. Sports photographers dial up their ISO to 6400 to freeze a slam dunk while working in low-light arenas. And wedding photographers fire speedlights to backlight the first dance between bride and groom. The quality and style of lighting directly affects what these photographers capture. In some situations, we can control the light, while in other scenarios, we are at nature’s discretion for interesting ligh...

“Okay, we’re only doing this once,” Patrick says, with obvious tension in his voice, over the thunderous roar of the waterfall. “We’ll have a safety boater below the falls in case something goes wrong.” I’m not sure who is more nervous, Patrick or me. I’m perched on a rock pinnacle, tied to a rope, looking down into a maelstrom of whitewater and mist. I’m photographing some friends who want to paddle off Lower Mesa Falls, a 65' waterfall in Idaho. Yesterday, in Colorado, we were talking about summer plans when we heard conditions were perfect to run Lower Mesa Falls. On a complete whim, ...

Whitewater Action: How to Photograph Water Sports close

“Okay, we’re only doing this once,” Patrick says, with obvious tension in his voice, over the thunderous roar of the waterfall. “We’ll have a safety boater below the falls in case something goes wrong.” I’m not sure who is more nervous, Patrick or me. I’m perched on a rock pinnacle, tied to a rope, looking down into a maelstrom of whitewater and mist. I’m photographing some friends who want to paddle off Lower Mesa Falls, a 65' waterfall in Idaho. Yesterday, in Colorado, we were talking about summer plans when we heard conditions were perfect to run Lower Mesa Falls. On a complete whim, ...

“It’s not about the setup; it’s about the birds,” Gene Gwin says as he carefully prunes a purple flower near our ground-level blind. Delicately twisting his sheers like a master gardener, he carefully trims off small twigs, making sure the slashes are invisible to the camera. “You need to cut twigs off so every part of the plant is in the same plane for good depth of field. Also, it allows the birds to put their tails down for a better shot.” I’m standing at first light in the thorny Tamaulipan scrub at Laguna Seca Ranch. I’ve been a birder for 30 years, and I’m finally fulfilling a buck...

Nature Undercover: Photography Blinds close

“It’s not about the setup; it’s about the birds,” Gene Gwin says as he carefully prunes a purple flower near our ground-level blind. Delicately twisting his sheers like a master gardener, he carefully trims off small twigs, making sure the slashes are invisible to the camera. “You need to cut twigs off so every part of the plant is in the same plane for good depth of field. Also, it allows the birds to put their tails down for a better shot.” I’m standing at first light in the thorny Tamaulipan scrub at Laguna Seca Ranch. I’ve been a birder for 30 years, and I’m finally fulfilling a buck...

Himalayan Journey

with Tom Bol

Have you ever imagined a country so remote and pristine that there’s no fast food, rush hour, or cell phone service in many areas? A place where the government measures the gross national happiness of the population, and the locals practice archery every day in local parks. Bhutan is that country; a rare, isolated Himalayan kingdom relatively untouched by modern society. With all the mystery surrounding Bhutan, I knew I had to photograph the intriguing people who live here. Who are these people? Are they really that peaceful and content? To find out, I jumped on a plane with my wife and som...

Himalayan Journey close

Have you ever imagined a country so remote and pristine that there’s no fast food, rush hour, or cell phone service in many areas? A place where the government measures the gross national happiness of the population, and the locals practice archery every day in local parks. Bhutan is that country; a rare, isolated Himalayan kingdom relatively untouched by modern society. With all the mystery surrounding Bhutan, I knew I had to photograph the intriguing people who live here. Who are these people? Are they really that peaceful and content? To find out, I jumped on a plane with my wife and som...

“Wait a second—I think I see it!” I mumble to my wife, Cree, as our midnight Delta flight approaches Fairbanks. “Are you sure? The KP index is only .6 tonight,” Cree responds. “Oh wow, look at that curtain. Aurora for sure,” I proclaim loud enough for the entire front of the plane to hear. Now everyone’s looking out the window. I’ve just gone from deep sleep to adrenalized hyperactivity. Witnessing the northern lights does that, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Cree and I have come to Fairbanks, Alaska, to photograph the winter landscape, dog sledding, and hopefully get some northe...

Searching for the Aurora in Frosty Alaskan Landscapes close

“Wait a second—I think I see it!” I mumble to my wife, Cree, as our midnight Delta flight approaches Fairbanks. “Are you sure? The KP index is only .6 tonight,” Cree responds. “Oh wow, look at that curtain. Aurora for sure,” I proclaim loud enough for the entire front of the plane to hear. Now everyone’s looking out the window. I’ve just gone from deep sleep to adrenalized hyperactivity. Witnessing the northern lights does that, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Cree and I have come to Fairbanks, Alaska, to photograph the winter landscape, dog sledding, and hopefully get some northe...

I was recently traveling through Atlanta with an extra day on my hands, so I decided to visit one my favorite shooting locations in the area, Old Car City. This is no ordinary junkyard of old cars. I’d call it the best place to photograph vintage automobiles in the U.S. Imagine more than 4,000 vintage cars and trucks nestled in a beautiful hardwood forest covering 34 acres, with six miles of trails. Incredible! But I had a problem. As much as I like to photograph in available light, I really wanted to use multiple speedlights to light up the cars and create a unique image. Since I only h...

Speedlight Multiplicity close

I was recently traveling through Atlanta with an extra day on my hands, so I decided to visit one my favorite shooting locations in the area, Old Car City. This is no ordinary junkyard of old cars. I’d call it the best place to photograph vintage automobiles in the U.S. Imagine more than 4,000 vintage cars and trucks nestled in a beautiful hardwood forest covering 34 acres, with six miles of trails. Incredible! But I had a problem. As much as I like to photograph in available light, I really wanted to use multiple speedlights to light up the cars and create a unique image. Since I only h...

Portable Power

with Tom Bol

If I counted the times I’ve used my Elinchrom Ranger RX packs on shoots, I’d need a calculator. I’ve hauled these packs around the globe, through the forest, over glaciers—they never fail. But flash and battery technology have evolved, and carrying a 17 lb. strobe pack into the backcountry took some effort. Rumors had started to fly about a new Ranger, and it has arrived. Enter the ELB1200 . The ELB1200 is more than just an upgrade. The list of new features is long, but one quick look at the specs and I started fixating on the ELB 1200. Why? The pack weighs in around 9 lbs., almost 50% l...

Portable Power close

If I counted the times I’ve used my Elinchrom Ranger RX packs on shoots, I’d need a calculator. I’ve hauled these packs around the globe, through the forest, over glaciers—they never fail. But flash and battery technology have evolved, and carrying a 17 lb. strobe pack into the backcountry took some effort. Rumors had started to fly about a new Ranger, and it has arrived. Enter the ELB1200 . The ELB1200 is more than just an upgrade. The list of new features is long, but one quick look at the specs and I started fixating on the ELB 1200. Why? The pack weighs in around 9 lbs., almost 50% l...

My lens assortment has grown and evolved throughout my career. I started with all prime lenses, as they were optically superior during that time. But zoom quality improved, and I started using two main lenses: 24–70mm and 70–200mm, both f/2.8. Optically, they were sharp, and the convenience of zooming through the focal lengths was terrific. Every five years or so, a sharper, quicker auto-focus version would come out, and I’d be first in line to upgrade. With these two lenses, I was good to go. But reviewing images after assignments and travel workshops, I realized I was missing something...

The Prime Portrait: The Difference Between F/2.8 and F/1.4 close

My lens assortment has grown and evolved throughout my career. I started with all prime lenses, as they were optically superior during that time. But zoom quality improved, and I started using two main lenses: 24–70mm and 70–200mm, both f/2.8. Optically, they were sharp, and the convenience of zooming through the focal lengths was terrific. Every five years or so, a sharper, quicker auto-focus version would come out, and I’d be first in line to upgrade. With these two lenses, I was good to go. But reviewing images after assignments and travel workshops, I realized I was missing something...

It’s hard to keep up with all the new technology in the photo industry. Almost every month there’s a new camera, flash, lens, program, or app that rocks the photo world. It’s an exciting time to be a photographer, and image-making is more popular than ever. I start my morning with a cup of black coffee and scan various photo websites looking for new, exciting announcements. When Nikon introduced the SB-5000 earlier this year, I almost spilled my coffee. The speedlight I was dreaming about had arrived. Most importantly, the SB-5000 used a radio signal instead of an optical signal. This me...

Lost in the Sand Dunes close

It’s hard to keep up with all the new technology in the photo industry. Almost every month there’s a new camera, flash, lens, program, or app that rocks the photo world. It’s an exciting time to be a photographer, and image-making is more popular than ever. I start my morning with a cup of black coffee and scan various photo websites looking for new, exciting announcements. When Nikon introduced the SB-5000 earlier this year, I almost spilled my coffee. The speedlight I was dreaming about had arrived. Most importantly, the SB-5000 used a radio signal instead of an optical signal. This me...

Pin-Up Perfection

with Tom Bol

One thing I love about being a portrait photographer is experimenting with different styles. One day I might be shooting edgy sports portraits, and the next day photographing film noir. Recently, I was at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, and noticed that some of the old military planes had pin-up models painted on their fuselages. Studying this colorful nose art, I was struck by the distinct style and feeling of these paintings. Even though this era was before my time, I was intrigued by the photography style that inspired these paintings. My challenge was to re-create th...

Pin-Up Perfection close

One thing I love about being a portrait photographer is experimenting with different styles. One day I might be shooting edgy sports portraits, and the next day photographing film noir. Recently, I was at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, and noticed that some of the old military planes had pin-up models painted on their fuselages. Studying this colorful nose art, I was struck by the distinct style and feeling of these paintings. Even though this era was before my time, I was intrigued by the photography style that inspired these paintings. My challenge was to re-create th...

Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t even born when film noir was in its heyday; but after watching current films influenced by film noir such as Nightcrawler, The Dark Night, and Sin City, I was hooked. There’s something about that black-and-white cinematic style of the 1940s and 50s that inspires both filmmakers and photographers. Don’t get me wrong; I love shooting in color. But once in a while it’s good to go back to your roots to get perspective on your future. My roots are in black-and-white photography, and film noir was based in gritty, hard-edged black-and-white imagery. What is film noir?...

Film Noir: A Classic Style With a Modern Twist close

Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t even born when film noir was in its heyday; but after watching current films influenced by film noir such as Nightcrawler, The Dark Night, and Sin City, I was hooked. There’s something about that black-and-white cinematic style of the 1940s and 50s that inspires both filmmakers and photographers. Don’t get me wrong; I love shooting in color. But once in a while it’s good to go back to your roots to get perspective on your future. My roots are in black-and-white photography, and film noir was based in gritty, hard-edged black-and-white imagery. What is film noir?...

Ever since I started my career as an adventure sports photographer, I’ve been floating in the water with a camera in hand. On one assignment I might be documenting a two-month kayaking trip in southern Chile, and the next month photographing a famous trout fisherman in Wyoming. Editors wanted fresh imagery, and that meant figuring out a way to shoot in the water. And not just simply shooting underwater, but creating a photograph that revealed both under and above the water at the same time. These images, referred to as over/under images, always caught the viewer’s attention. But over/und...

Over/Under Photography Offers Fresh Perspectives close

Ever since I started my career as an adventure sports photographer, I’ve been floating in the water with a camera in hand. On one assignment I might be documenting a two-month kayaking trip in southern Chile, and the next month photographing a famous trout fisherman in Wyoming. Editors wanted fresh imagery, and that meant figuring out a way to shoot in the water. And not just simply shooting underwater, but creating a photograph that revealed both under and above the water at the same time. These images, referred to as over/under images, always caught the viewer’s attention. But over/und...

Become a master of time! Join Tom Bol as he teaches you everything you need to know to get started creating stunning time lapse videos. Tom starts by introducing you to the core gear and the foundational information you'll need to make your first time lapse. From there he steadily walks you through increasingly more challenging time lapse scenarios that culminates with the holy grail of time lapse; a shoot that spans the changing light levels from day to night.

Time Lapse Photography close

Become a master of time! Join Tom Bol as he teaches you everything you need to know to get started creating stunning time lapse videos. Tom starts by introducing you to the core gear and the foundational information you'll need to make your first time lapse. From there he steadily walks you through increasingly more challenging time lapse scenarios that culminates with the holy grail of time lapse; a shoot that spans the changing light levels from day to night.

Be prepared to see some amazing shots and learn some techniques for capturing winter activities in your neck of the woods. Includes a special bonus class.

Winter Sports Photography close

Be prepared to see some amazing shots and learn some techniques for capturing winter activities in your neck of the woods. Includes a special bonus class.

Tom Bol returns to the beautiful deserts of Moab, Utah for more outdoor adventure photography. In this course, Tom goes through a variety of set ups to capture the physicality and beauty of rock climbers and trail runners. Throughout the lessons, Tom talks about his goals of combining technical quality with the creative and artistic. He talks about image composition, utilizing sun and shadow, and adapting light to changing conditions. All of his subjects are shot amidst of the deep, rich colors of the southwest. The final shot of the course is a long exposure made at night.

Photographing Adventure Sports, Part 2 close

Tom Bol returns to the beautiful deserts of Moab, Utah for more outdoor adventure photography. In this course, Tom goes through a variety of set ups to capture the physicality and beauty of rock climbers and trail runners. Throughout the lessons, Tom talks about his goals of combining technical quality with the creative and artistic. He talks about image composition, utilizing sun and shadow, and adapting light to changing conditions. All of his subjects are shot amidst of the deep, rich colors of the southwest. The final shot of the course is a long exposure made at night.

Join Tom Bol as he teaches this outdoor photography course from the famous mountain-biking Mecca of Moab, Utah. Tom is passionate about adventure sports and Moab is a terrific location to shoot. Follow Tom as he progresses from a simple setup using available lighting and moves on to more complex single-light setups and then on to more advanced lighting. During the course, Tom will be showing viewers how to achieve a decent shot in midday sun, how to freeze and blur the action, how to capture a sun star in the photograph, and much, much more. If you are shooting action outdoors, you won't want to miss this course.

Photographing Adventure Sports close

Join Tom Bol as he teaches this outdoor photography course from the famous mountain-biking Mecca of Moab, Utah. Tom is passionate about adventure sports and Moab is a terrific location to shoot. Follow Tom as he progresses from a simple setup using available lighting and moves on to more complex single-light setups and then on to more advanced lighting. During the course, Tom will be showing viewers how to achieve a decent shot in midday sun, how to freeze and blur the action, how to capture a sun star in the photograph, and much, much more. If you are shooting action outdoors, you won't want to miss this course.