Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Embracing High Contrast Mid-Day Sun in Baalbek

I had the unique opportunity to visit one the best examples of Roman architecture in the world, the temples in Baalbek, Lebanon.  You can read about the temples here if you are interested.

Since the temples are open from 8am onwards, I was challenged by being forced to take pictures in the mid-day sun.  I decided to embrace the challenge by going for high contrast photos with sun bursts.  I used the 16-35mm f4.0 exclusively at f16 to create the starburst effect and then processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.  The starburst technique is created by setting  your camera to aperture priority, metering mode to average and setting an aperture of f16 or higher.  Starbursts are best when kept to the perimeter of the frame with a wide angle lens.

The pictures below contain some examples of this technique along with other images from Baalbek.  If you are ever in Lebanon, these ruins are a must see.  In my opinion, they rival Angkor Wat in Cambodia, if that is any reference for people out there.  Simply amazing.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Astrophotography and the Milky Way

Well, I got lucky.  I've been trying to get a chance to do a little astrophotography but finding a night where there was a new moon, I was free the next day, no city glow and a cloudless night was proving to be challenging.  A week ago, all of those factors happened to align magically under the Milky Way up in Northern Ontario, near Bancroft.

As is usually the case, I was woefully under-prepared.  I had done some reading about settings and general guidelines but I was afraid that it wouldn't be enough.  Without a tripod, I mounted my new 16-35, f4.0L on my camera and gave it a shot.  I used a boat bumper and a stool to balance my camera in the right position and I started playing around with my settings to see what I could get.  Through a few hours of experimentation, I eventually decided that focusing slightly in front of infinity with camera settings of ISO 3200, a shutter speed of 25 seconds and an aperture of f4.0 worked out the best.  I also engaged mirror lockup and used the builtin timer function to release the shutter and reduce camera shake.

The hours of experimentation resulted to two photos that I liked included in this post.  I processed these files using Lightroom and Photoshop and I've ordered a canvass print of this photo for my mother.  Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wide Angle Lenses

As an Xmas present to myself, I recently purchased a 16-35 f4.0L IS lens.  The raving reviews of this lens along with its stellar performance underwater made it a perfect match for my new 5D mark III Ikelite housing.

With my purchase justification squarely in tow, I went out today to run the lens through its paces on land before experimenting with its capabilities under the water.  Elise and I went to the Mohammad Al Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut for a quick walk to explore the iconic landmark.  I used the 16-35 lens to snap a few photos of the interior of the mosque.  The image stabilization and incredible sharpness from corner to corner gave me some beautiful images.  Here are a few for your perusing.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Metering Modes and Hyperfocal Distance

Ok, so I'm probably getting pretty geeky now so I'm assuming that if you actually clicked on this post then you are ready to geek out with me.  So, my last post was about the concept of hyperfocal distance and how to use that with back button focus.  My wife, daughter and I went to Beiteddine the other day and had the chance to fool around with metering modes.

I had watched a tutorial that suggested that photographers stick to either center-weighted metering or spot metering modes depending on whether they were in a controlled environment or shooting on the go.  I decided to test this theory out the other other day.

Since I was "on the go" while walking around Beiteddine, I selected center-weighted metering mode, put my 17mm f4.0 to 17mm and f8.0 and set the focus to the hyperfocal distance.  I think proceeded to walk around the Beitedding complex taking some shots.  I kept the in mind the fact that anything closer than about 4ft (125cm) would be out of focus.  I then set my other two back buttons to start metering and lock metering.  I was able to quickly set and lock metering by touching the two aforementioned buttons quickly in sequence and then move to the trigger to take the photo.  This system, combined with the hyperfocal theory, help produce fast and reliable results as I walked around.  Here are some examples.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hyperfocal Distance, Back Button Focus and Byblos

With our most recent visit to Lebanon, I had a chance to play around with hyperfocal distance.  Ever since I started to consider getting into underwater video, I've been fascinated by the this theory.

To oversimplify a complicated theory, hyperfocal distance is the focal distance at which you set your camera for a given aperture and focal length in order to achieve the maximum depth of field.  It will extend from a certain point in front of the camera until infinity.  The advantage of this theory is that as long as everything in your picture is more than the minimum distance then everything should be in focus.   There are a glut of apps out there that will help you calculate your hyperfocal distance.  Just simply search for "hyperfocal" and you will find them. This approach is incredibly helpful when working with underwater video as it allows you to set your focus and simply concentrate on recording and framing and not dealing with focusing knobs etc.

During our last trip to Byblos, I decided to play around with this theory and apply it to photography.  I set my camera to f11 and my focal distance to 0.8m.  This meant that everything from 0.3m to infinity would remain in focus as I took pictures.  Since my camera was set to back button focus and manual mode I simply had to pull the shutter release button.  I found it a easy and effect way of taking photos that kept everything in focus while giving you complete control over your exposure.  I would think that this would be effective in a situation where there is limited change in light.  Variable light would require a much more complicated approach.  In any case, here are some samples from the day.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Beirut - Lebanon

Yesterday, I attempted to return to my camera again for Photowalk purposes.  I led the Beirut leg of Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk through the streets of this lovely city.  Mostly made up of friends and colleagues, we meandered through the tight alleyways and busy roads while attempting to capture images that represented the street life of the city.  It was an interesting process.  During other photowalks, I was able to zone out and get into my grove by disappearing into the background of the group.  By leading this walk, I found myself involved in some great conversations and I got to know quite a few interesting and fun people but I found it hard to really get into the grove of taking pictures.  I guess this really helped reinforce that photowalks really are about the social nature of photography.  Perhaps I've been missing something during all the other walks that I had been taking.  Here are a few of the images that I captured during the walk ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bavaria - The Land of Castles and Churches

Wow, how long has it been?  Well, hopefully this is me starting up again.  Having a baby and updating her blog has taken my photography focus elsewhere recently.  I did get to play around with some HDR photography in the churches of Bavaria over our Spring Break.

The photos of the churches were taken hand held, then auto-aligned in Photoshop.  Afterwards, I used Photoshop to process the HDR images and then pulled the resulting file into Lightroom for final editing.  I'm starting to learn more about exporting photos from Lightroom into smaller file sizes.  I've realized that the histogram can really be  your friend in this situation.  After much trial and error, I now know that it is important for me to pull the shadows up out of the left quarter of the histogram to get an exposure that I like.  In these images I used a combination of the shadows slider and exposure slider to accomplish this.

The photo of Neushwanstein was a straight up 24-70 f2.8II shot at around 40mm/f8.0.  I pulled the blues and overall highlights down to get the darkened sky.