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low down, throw down with josh norem...

it's a borrowlenses.com kind of week around here!!
in case you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to head over to our giveaway going on right now for your chance to win a $200 gift certificate for borrowlenses.com. seriously, what an amazing prize!!!

i have used borrowlenses.com many, many times and along the way i have made a good friend.
josh is one of the many amazing faces behind the great company borrowlenses.com. once upon a time, i asked if i could see some of his work and i was completely blown away....like take your breath away. his photos are some of the most brilliant photography i have ever seen.

i asked him if i could feature him on the blog. he questioned my asking because he wasn't maternal (i assured him many men have been on the blog) and photography is more of a hobby to him and doesn't do it professionally. my response was because his work is amazing and we've never really featured a non-people photog before.

i know you will love his work just as much as i do and his interview is packed full of such great information!!!

please welcome josh norem and be sure to leave him lots of blog love!!

Name: Josh Norem
Business name: Marketing Director for BorrowLenses.com
Location: San Francisco, CA
Website/blog/portfolio: http://joshnorem.smugmug.com/
and http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshnorem/
Tell us one sentence to describe your photography:
Animals and landscapes! But I've been known to shoot airshows and other things
for fun like motorcycle racing too.
What's one thing that everyone should know about you?:
I don't think there's anything people should know about me;
I just love to take pictures.
How long have you been doing photography and how did you get started:
Well I had a Canon 40D for about a year -- this was two years ago -- then I decided
on a whim to get a full-frame Nikon D700 a little over a year ago and WOW -- it just
blew me away and my photography instantly improved. The pictures were so amazing
coming right out of the camera that it inspired me to really take it seriously and
start shooting all the time. My shutter count after the first year was right at
125k or so -- I was shooting nonstop!
If they made a movie about your life, what would it be titled and who would play you?
It would probably be called Jack of All Trades as I've had 4 different careers now,
and it would be played by Ed Norton as he sort of looks like me and I think he's a
great actor.
What change are you looking most forward to in 2011...photography and
non-photography related?
Well I'm a gearhound sort of so I'm really looking forward to the new full-frame
cameras from Nikon this year. Both the D4 and the D800, or whatever they name the
D700's successor. I don't really care about video but some more megapixels would be
Your HDR photography is amazing. Can you tell us more about this type of photography
and the process behind it?
HDR is a lot harder than most people think it is, and everyone sort of goes through
the same phases. When they first try it they produce awful, over-saturated images
that look terrible. I did this -- I admit it! But eventually you learn there's more
to an image than just cool-looking colors, and I started really paying attention to
my composition a lot more. But I use Photomatix, then Photoshop for masking, and
maybe some Topaz Adjust but not all the time. Getting HDR right is very difficult
and I don't profess to be a master but I have learned a lot shooting in this style.
The main components are composition and color -- don't bother trying to shoot HDR at
noon. Also get a spirit level for your hotshoe so you can make sure the horizon is
straight. They are less than $10 and it's the best money I ever spent on something
If you were given $500 today, what would be the first thing you would do?:
Put it towards a lens probably -- I don't own any lenses aside from a 50mm f/1.4 :
Where do you go to find inspiration?:
I learned HDR from the master -- Trey Ratcliff.
His site -- www.stuckincustoms.com -- is truly inspiring, as is his lifestyle.
He travels around the world shooting beautiful images for a living. That's something
that would inspire anyone I think. I also browse www.1x.com for inspiration as well.
There are some truly amazing images there as it's an approval-based site unlike Flickr.
When processing your photos, what is the best trick/tip
you've learned and are willing to share?
I actually don't do much processing. The only thing I do now with all my cat shoots
is I draw a circle around the eyes and brighten them most of the time using the
level adjustment. I will also use the saturation sponge in Photoshop to saturate the
eye color more to make them pop. If I had to give one tip though it would be to get
good noise reduction software. It can do wonders! I use Imagenomic Noiseware.

Working for a lens rental company such as the amazing borrowlenses.com, I'm sure you
have tried them all. What are you favorite lenses and why?
All the Pro Nikon lenses are stunning, but my favorite is the 14-24 f/2.8.
It's sharper than a prime lens and is sharper at f/2.8 than most lenses at f/5.6.
It is truly remarkable and there is no Canon equivalent to it. It's simply amazing.
Do you use Nikon and Canon? Why?
I use a Nikon D700 and Love it to pieces. I thought about the Canon 5D Mark II when
I was buying but the 9-point auto-focus system is just too limiting in my opinion.
Since I shoot cats a lot, I need the eyes to be tack sharp, and having 51 auto-focus
points means I can put the focus dot right where I want it any time, so that's very
helpful. Plus, for HDR, there is a built-in interval timer, so I can set it to take
5 bracketed exposures, press OK and it takes all the images. I don't even have to
touch the Camera -- Canon cameras don't offer this; you'd have to buy an expensive
cable. Plus the D700 with a grip shoots at 8 frame per second. There is no Canon
full-frame equivalent. Canon doesn't want its full-frame shooters going to airshows
or sporting events for some reason.

What is your best tip for photographing at night?
Night photography is tough. The best time to shoot is right after the sun goes down,
of course, because once it gets dark its very tough for the camera to focus and
focusing manually is almost impossible. To get around this I have a super powerful
flashlight that I keep in my bag that can help as it gives the camera some light to
focus on. If you're focusing far away try HDR shooting +2 to -2. It works well since
the long exposure will get the foreground in focus and the short exposure will make
sure any lights aren't totally overexposed.
What are you dying to photograph, but just don't know how to pull it off?
Fireworks. I've tried three times and failed miserably every single time.
I just can't get the exposure right but will try again on July 4th!
Do you have a hidden talent? Or a stupid human trick?
Not really; I'm pretty boring when it comes to that stuff. I used to ride a
motorcycle pretty well and have ridden with some of the top racers in the world as
a journalist, but that all came to an end when I got side-swiped by a guy in a car
who wasn't paying attention. It funny how your life can change in the blink of an
What music do you love? Do you have a favorite song of all time?
You might not know it from looking at me but I love metal -- bands like Lamb of God
and Pantera are my favorites. RIP Dime! I don't have a favorite song - I love all of
them. The passion in the music is really inspiring to me, as well as the technical
challenge of playing music that fast with drums, bass and guitar all synced up at
high speed.
What is at the top of your wish list right now?:
Lenses. Nikon has just come out with some super-sweet primes - a 35mm f/1.4,
85mm f/1.4 and a 24mm f/1.4, but they are all about $1,800 so I can't afford them.
Luckily I get to borrow them :)
Tell us the best advice that you have ever received
(photography related or life in general):
The best advice for photography is just take pictures as often as you can and shoot
what you love. Your photography will improve if you focus on it and are able to
learn from your mistakes. I used to take very average images, and still do! But I
am able to see what I did wrong and improve, and that's what keeps me going.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world to photograph it, where would it be?
Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico in November. Over 500,000 birds come to this refuge
and then all leave at once as soon as the sun rises. It is supposed to be amazing!
I will be there one of these years.
When you look back at your life, what are you most proud of? 
This is tough; I'm not that old! I don't have any kids to be proud of yet but I have
found homes for a lot of homeless cats over the years, so that feels good.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I honestly have no idea. Hopefully married with kids living in California :)
And lastly.....when we started the maternal lens, all of us filled out
this questionnaire and shared our answers....now it's your turn :)
What is your favorite word? Redonkulous. It is from www.cuteoverload.com

What is your least favorite word? Hmm, probably occasion since I always misspell it.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Human emotion; I cry during
movies a lot, and get pretty emotional when I see things that are just so beautiful
it takes my breath away. My latest muse is the song Time to Say Goodbye by Sarah
Brightman and Andrea Bocelli http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbN0g8-zbdY I don't see
how anyone could watch that and not feel something amazing!
What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Probably one-uppers.
I don't like people that do this.
What sound or noise do you love? There is nothing more soothing than a cat snuggled
up against me purring!
What sound or noise do you hate? The sound of cats fighting. It makes the hair on my
neck stand up. I absolutely hate it.
What is your favorite thing to say when you get mad? I don't get mad.
People will say "so and so made me mad" but we are always in control of our own
emotions; you can't let other people dictate your mental state.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Stand-up comedian. 
What profession would you not like to do? Working in an office. I hate cubicles,
time restraints and bureaucratic nonsense. Offices are the place where productivity
is smothered by meetings and managers.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the
Pearly Gates? I'd like him to say the world was a better place when I was in it.

thanks again josh!!!!


  1. Mandy Rae2/17/2011

    WOW!! Josh, your work is unbelievable! Thank you for sharing, not only your photography, but all the great information in your interview.

  2. Lindsey2/17/2011

    Stunning photos! The one with the sun, rocks and river is breathtaking. GO NIKON! LOL!

  3. Kelly P.2/17/2011

    I learned show much from this interview. I really like the change from the normal portrait stuff. I am really inspired. Thank you for sharing Josh and Shannon.

  4. Beautiful beautiful images. Fun to see a guy on the ML :)

  5. Wow thank you for sharing this!! What an inspiration you are Josh. Your photography is stunningly wonderful! I'm a Nikon girl and am excited to try out your recommendations. I've been saving up to buy my saved cart with borrowedlenses! Can't wait!!!

  6. I get to order my D700 on the 15th of next month! I will be so excited to give HDR a try. Josh's work is great!


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