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.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Spring Break in Portugal

 Elise and I spent Spring Break exploring the Portuguese coast.  We stayed in the town of Nazare and visited the local beach which was home of the 100 ft wave.  I took this opportunity to spend some time on the coastline during sunset and visit the local churches.  The images in this post were taken on the days leading up to and following the 2014 Easter celebrations.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Exposing for Skin - without a light meter!

   I'll start this post off with an admission ... I've always struggled exposing skin properly.  Whether it is with artificial or available light, getting those skin tones correct has been a difficult process in camera.  Being a part-time professional who wants to keep costs to a relatively reasonable level, I have resisted purchasing a light meter thinking that there must be a way to get this correct in camera without spending a boat load on a light meter.

   Enter my new macro lens.  Now, please note, what is to follow is only an example and the photos are simply crops of larger photos but I think they serve to prove my theory.  I recently purchased the Canon 100mm 2.8L Macro Lens.  This purchase got me thinking about macro photos and histograms ... and that led me to my current exposure process.

  My theory was that I would be able to expose for a subject's skin by taking a photo that encompasses the highlights to shadows of the subjects face and then look at the histogram to determine if the exposure was correct.  I quickly realized that the histogram changed depending on the lighting ratios/setup and the intended mood of the image.  I found that a flat lighting setup gave a histogram that spread from the "bottom" (shadows) 1/3  to the top (highlights) 2/3s of the histogram.  Now, this is not always true for every lighting setup, or every photographer.  You will need to determine your ideal histogram shape and spread.  
   I start by taking a photo of the subject (a forehead) as you see below.  Note, that you do not need a macro lens to do this as you can take the same photo, out of focus, and achieve that same result.

   After that, I look at the histogram and adjust settings until I get a histogram that spreads from the lower (left) 1/3 to upper (right) 2/3s of the histogram (see below).  I've found that I tend to like the look that is shifted slightly to the right.

  I then step back and begin shooting.  and get images that, I have fond, require little adjustment for skin exposure in post.  Now, this does not include a explanation of determining background exposure.   That is another beast for another post, and I would be happy to explain that process if there is interest.  In any case, below is an example the overall histograms and photos that I have been getting out of camera.

   As always, comments, opinions or other methods of exposing for skin are very, very welcome.  Take care everyone!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Sofian Trams

     I spent this weekend walking around Sofia as Elise my little daughter visited the US.  It was perfect Sofian weather for reigniting my passion with trams.  When visiting many other European cities you see uniform, high-tech public transportation that is run in an immaculate fashion.  While Sofia's public transportation is well run and very timely, it is anything but uniform.  Each tram, bus or subway has its own character and appearance.  Travelling on these trams (and other forms of public trans) is one of my favorite things to do in Sofia.  It is a throwback to an earlier day.  These photos were taken using back button focus while tracking the tram along its path.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Brandenburg Gate

Elise and I made the 2 hour plane journey to Berlin last weekend.  It was a trip back in time for me as, when I was a youngster, I visited the wall with my father and snapped a photo in front of the division between East and West Berlin.  I'm hoping to get my hands on the photo of me as a child in front of the wall.  I will post it here if it ever turns up.

The history of Berlin is eyeopening.  From Nazi Germany through communist rule up to the modern day, Berlin retains a history that continually overcomes conflict.  The stories about the Death Strip and the Nazi Gestapo send a chill down any human's spine.  Today, Berlin is a city that is known for its nightlife and diversity.

The images below were all taken with natural light.  The image of Berliner Dom is an HDR shot that was tweaked in Photoshop while the others underwent minor adjustments in Lightroom.  Enjoy!

Hole in the Berlin Wall revealing a Bear in what was communist Germany

Berliner Dom

Brandenburg Gate

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Communist Cinderella

After being influenced by the inspirational photography of Annie Liebovitz, I decided that I wanted to take a stab at a concept that I had been thinking about for quite some time.  Living in Bulgaria has provided me access to an amazing group of people and monuments that are scattered around the country.  After interacting with many Bulgarians it is clear that they are struggling to leave their past behind and embrace a more democratic future. This has proven very difficult, with a corrupt government stubbornly occupying the country for many years.  The Bulgarian people are strong though.  They are fighting to free themselves from the legacy of dirty money and corruption that has gripped the country since the days of communism.  You need to go no further than the parliament buildings in downtown Sofia to witness this David and Goliath-like battle.

The current struggle of Bulgarians inspired this most recent photoshoot.  After seeing Annie Leibovitz's Cinderalla I came up with the concept of a communist Cinderella trying to escape the throws of post-communist corruption in Bulgaria.  I shot these images at The Bell Tower, in Sofia, Bulgaria and used Photoshop to merge multiple images together to create the effect that you see below.

I created all of these images in a very similar way.  I started by taking a photo with large softbox directly beside the model in an attempt to mimic the natural light.  I took one exposure with the softbox in place and then asked the model to pick up the softbox and walk out of the scene.  I then took a second exposure without the softbox and model.  Afterwards, I used Photoshop to blend the two images, first aligning them and then masking the softbox out of the scene.  After a little more dodging and burning along with some color adjustments, I arrived at the images you seen in this post.  I would be happy to provide lighting diagrams if they are of interest to anyone.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!