Monday, September 17, 2012

What do you get when you cross a princess visit with a flash mob?

Well, the punch line is ... a thoroughly covered surprise event.  Actually, I'm not quite sure about the term "flash mob" as it was announced to some people prior to the performance and by the Drag bicycle vendors 10 minutes prior.  The fact that the location for the flash mob was also the backup location for a speech for the Princess of Belgium was simply an added bonus.  In any case, it was a unique aligning of the stars when these two events collided and I'm glad that we were there to see it.  I think the Princess was too.

The "flash mob" was announced to us through a colleague at work.  It was to take place in the underground of a metro station at 11am on Sunday.  We arrived about ten minutes early and I took advantage of the time to set up a few Pocket Wizards.

I set one flash on top of the TT1 that I was using on my camera and pointed it at the white ceiling of the subway station.  I asked Elise to hold the other one and point it at the ceiling beside the flash mob.  All shots were taken at f5.6 with the 17-40mm lens and the flashes set to ETTL.  The on-board flash was set to underexpose by 2/3 of a stop.  I continued to use the back focus button to track the dancers and just shot away, trying to wait for a moment that the dancers were in a unique pose.  The camera was initially set to Av mode at f4.0 but I quickly realize that the shutter speed was far too long.  I then moved the aperture to f5.6 and 1/200th of a second in manual mode.  The produced the results that you see above.

Now, I hear that there might be more performances like this one so I'm looking forward to getting the inside scoop on the next surprise performance.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ruth Koleva Opens Sofia Live Club

Last night the doors of Sofia Live Club were opened to welcome the sweet, smooth voice of Ruth Koleva.  A mix of funk and jazz with a twist of rock rung out through the doors of the club and into the newly constructed Sofia subway line to usher in the new season of music.

Ruth is the daughter of a Bulgarian weight lifter and has spent much of her time overseas.  She is currently working on recording an album in Norway and came to Bulgaria for a one night performance.  She squeezed in a few radio interviews before the show and then took the stage at Sofia Live Club, located just under NDK (National Palace of Culture).

The show was attended by an energetic young crowd that was initially shy to take the dance floor.  With a little coaxing from Ms. Koleva, the hardwood floor quickly filled with bobbing heads and shuffling feet.  Ruth put on an energetic and soulful show.  Strong character and an open, welcoming attitude vibrated from the stage to the crowd, making for an incredibly entertaining night of music.

If you are interested in learning more about Ruth Koleva you can see her website HERE.  You can also see one of her videos below.  A schedule of events occurring at Sofia Live Club can be found HERE in both English and Bulgarian.

In order to combat the low light levels in the club, I took my 430exII and a set of  Pocket Wizards.  The flash was set up just off of stage right.  It was set to 1/8 power and zoomed into 100mm.  It was also flagged using a business card.  The camera was set to f4.0 at 200th of a second in manual setting.  The ISO was adjusted to acquire the correct exposure.  AI servo mode was used to help track Ruth's movements across the stage.  Tight shots were taken with the 70-200mm and the wide angle shots were taken with the 17-40mm.  Also, I used a Canon 40D set to back button focus.

I'm looking forward to seeing another show if Ruth Koleva visits Sofia again.  I can honestly say that it is one of the first times that I've been introduced to a new artist that I would want to follow in a very long time.  That has to be a good sign!



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Beli Iskar II and Back Button Focus


A return trip to Beli Iskar Gorge resulted in a beautiful late summer bike ride.  We spent the day driving out to the Borovets area and visiting the gorge for a bit of exercise.  It was nice to find out that it wasn't any harder to climb the steady incline than it was the time before.  Kalina will be happy to know that the descent was also much more ... tame.

During this trip I was experimenting with back-button focus on my Canon 40D.  The function allows you to decouple the metering and focusing systems so that you can focus on your subject then recompose the picture and meter for the new composition.  It also allows you to change your exposure compensation without having to refocus on your subject.  Although it wasn't very helpful during this trip (and I actually managed to really mess up a few of the photos) I think it will come in quite handy during many other situations.

There are many different ways to decouple the focus and metering functions on your camera, but it is dependent on the type of camera that you own.  For Canon 40D owners you want to go to C. FnIV: Operations/Other in your menu and then change option 1 (shutter button) to AE Lock/Metering + AF Start and then change option 2 to "AE on/AE lock button switch" to "Enable".  This will allow you to lock focus with the asterisks button on the back of your camera and then meter by pressing the shutter button half way down.  To take the picture you will need to depress the shutter button completely.  Instructions will vary depending on what type of camera you have.  Other websites have also explained the benefits of enabling this function so I won't repeat them here.  Try it out ... I think it is at least worth experimenting with.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tis The Season ...

For some reason, white was the order of the day.  The beautiful sunshine seemed to bring everyone out into the city to play.  After exploring the newly opened subway outside just outside our front door, I wandered down to Levski Stadium and around the city for a five hour walk.  As I was coming back up Vitosha on my way home I came across a wedding in Nedelya Square.  I have to admit, I felt like a bit of a creep taking pictures of someone else's wedding but I think it does give the viewer a sense of ceremony here in Bulgaria.

These pictures were taken with the 70-200mm at f4.0 zoomed into 200mm.  I set the white balance for fluorescent and then adjusted it in post by using the eyedropper on the brides dress.  The ISO was set to 800 to get a quick enough shutter speed to freeze motion and I used noise reduction to bring down some of the artifacts of the high ISO. Overall, a pretty successful day I would say!