Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chasing Trams

Yep, I've been known to almost be run over by a tram or two.  Mostly due to looking through the lens too long ... and who knew that a tram's "horn" was a little cheery bell, huh?  Not much of a warning before they actually run you down.

Today I took a walk downtown and went for some shots of Sofia's trams.  Part of it was inspired by Dola, who wanted a shot of her tram 10, but I also find myself fascinated by the public transportation system in Bulgaria.  Considering the local economic situation, the system is well maintained, efficient and timely.  It really is the way to get around the city if need be.

The pictures in this post were taken with the 70-200mm f4.0L and the 17-40 f4.0L.  I've been waiting to get my hands on a full frame camera and I was excited to see what the 17mm end of the range would offer me.  As you can see by some of the photos below, the 17mm focal length distorts buildings to make them appear to have walls that slant together as they approach the sky.  Some true architectural photographers don't like the look, but I feel like it gives you a sense of location and space and provides a view that not everyone has seen.

The photos taken with the 70-200mm will show less distortion (as seen below).

While the photos taken at 17mm will appear as below.  I have found that the 17-40mm f4.0L shines most brightly at f8.0 and above so most of these photos were taken in that range.  Below this f-stop the lens tends to produce quite soft and unpleasing images.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beloslava at SLC

From talking to the promoter, Beloslava is a private individual who makes few public appearances and plays fewer shows.  When we were asked if Elise and I wanted to come to one of her concerts we jumped on the opportunity.  Her smooth sound was a perfect accompaniment to her welcoming yet aloof stage presence.  Knowing glances and deep smiles gave the audience reason to enjoy the pleasure she derived from her art.  It is always exciting to see artists that enjoys what they do.  The video below is an example of one of her past pieces of work.

The photos of this event were taken using cross lighting.  I used my typical cross lighting setup by snooting one speedlight (stage left) and gridding the other (stage right) so that the light would not spill onto the background of the stage.  The speedlights were set to ETTL and I used a combination of the 70-200mm f4.0L and the 24-70mm f2.8L II along with the new 5D Mark III.  I limited my post production this time to simple exposure and contrast adjustments. Enjoy the photos!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A cold Saturday afternoon sunset...

Yesterday, I decided to try and shake the cough that I was developing by taking a stroll downtown to get more familiar with my new camera.  Since everything else was new, I decided to do a church walk through the downtown core.  I visited the tried and true Alexander Nevski Cathedral and Saints Sedmochislenitsi Church.

Being the more modern of the two, the Alexander Nevski Church was constructed between 1882 and 1912.  The cathedral is named after a Russian prince who, with the help of his soldiers, liberated the Bulgarians from the Ottoman during the Russo-Turkish War.  Many of the parts of the church were constructed in different parts around the world including Munich, Berlin, Vienna and Venice.  This helped to create the ornate, eclectic, yet dark interior of the church.   Since no photographs are permitted within the church, you will have to visit for yourself to see the stunning interior.

Saints Sedmochislenitsi (above) was converted from an old Ottoman mosque into the Bulgarian Orthodox church in 1901.  Its history claims roots in Roman Serdica, the Ottoman Empire and the current day Bulgarain Orthodox religion.  More about the interesting history of this church can be read HERE.  Although the conversion process began in 1901, it did not finish until 1996 when the final frescoes were painted into place.  Between 1901 and 1996, the interior candlestick holders were created (1906) from police badges and the exterior clock was built in 1930, along with the surrounding courtyard.  The interior of the church remains in repair today but it is nonetheless a must see on your stop to Sofia, especially if you can time your visit with a service.

These photos were both taken by using a tripod and cable release.  I took five different photos, the first one 2 stops above proper exposure, the second at 1 stop above proper exposure ... all the way down to -2 stops below proper exposure.  I then used a method similar to THIS to combine the five photos into one.  I then imported the 32 bit results back into Lightroom and made final adjustments.  Hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Power of 2.8

Well, I'm ashamed to admit it ... but I totally cracked.  I've been waiting for the 5D Mark III to come out for more than a year now but I just couldn't justify the expense.  This past Christmas the 5D III was reduced about $400 and the other lens I was drooling over was reduced $200.  My self restraint still prevailed though.  I was willing to wait another year and continue shooting with my 40D until ... they threw in an extra battery, camera bag and memory card.  I just couldn't take it any more.  I jumped on it, and I'm glad I did.  The images from this post were taken with my new camera/lens combination.

Today I wanted to share a child's environmental portrait that I took on Christmas day of my exhausted nephew (uh, I mean Spider-Man) taking a break on the bench as his father continued to play with his twin brother in the background.  I shot this image using the new Canon 24-70 f2.8l II at 70mm f2.8.  Shooting at f2.8 caused the focus to fall off quickly behind and in front of what I chose to focus on.  I then used the back button method and focused on Spider-Man with the intention of burring out the background and took the shot.

Since your eye tends to be drawn to the brightest, most in-focus part of the image first you will probably find yourself initially looking at Spider-Man and then continuing to explore the bench.  Finally, you will notice the two people in the background and the rest of this image.  F2.8 does a lot more than just blurring the background.  It empowers you with a creative tool to deliver a story and direct the viewer's eye.  I hoping this image delivers that story.

You can see more of the images on my website, under the portrait tab.

Comments, questions and constructive criticism welcome below ... as always.