I have been slacking. Mostly because .... I guess I'm lazy. I do have a backlog of images that are asking politely to be posted somewhere... maybe someone will like them? What if no one really cares? Will that have an impact? Should it have an impact? Should our creativity be influenced by someone liking or disliking or simply not caring about the images we create
I have completely forgot about out BC Trip last summer. I guess I didn't finish telling you all about it, and the pictures were just sitting in my dropbox collecting layers of dust
Coming back from Long Beach we had to stop at the famous Cathedral Grove. It's a very old forest located in MacMillan Provincial Park. The trees there are hundreds of years old, and so tall one could say they touch the sky. It's one of the most beautiful and humbling places we have visited. To think that these trees have been standing there since the middle ages, is uncanny. Even though there are a lot of people visiting, the place is strangely quiet. One could say it's a spiritual experience. I guess that's why it's called the Cathedral Grove.
Capturing the Grove
Trying to capture the Grove is not an easy task. You have to have a very wide lens and lots of space to be able to catch one of these tree giants in entirety. It's almost impossible, because there is almost no room along the paths to back away far enough. Even at 15mm it wasn't enough. Still, the experience is well worth the trip. Highly recommend you stopping by, and enjoy the quiet of time. It's amazing.
Traveling British Columbia - Landscape Photography
Driving close to the coast for a sunset spot, proved to be quite difficult. We have made a couple of bad decisions and ended up in many private driveways, with no access to the shore. We thought at the start that by the ferry terminal we should find some part of a beach that we can photograph the sunset. Not so.
After close to 2 hours of driving back and forth, we finally managed to find a tiny little beach, that wasn't marked private. Problem was we still had plenty of time before we can try out landscape photography skills on a local sunset. So we found a spot and waited, and waited, and waited. During that wait, Kasia read books and I observed people around me. I tried to photograph them, but our location did not give us a lot of chances. Here is what I came up with that day. Enjoy!
It is truly a wonderful experience to welcome a new day in the mountains. We were lucky to be able to do just that during our recent trip to Banff National Park just before Christmas. The changing colors of the sky, reflected in little pools of open water at Vermilion Lakes made it all seem like the most exotic place, even though we have visited it so many times before.. Met a few photographers who, having the same idea, were already positioned in various places along the lakes capturing all those colors of a beautiful solstice morning. Experiencing such natural splendor makes landscape photography even more enjoyable. Even though you are spending long time outside, in the cold, you are rewarded with such wonderful views that it is all worth it! I have managed to shoot a few close ups, too (can't really help myself, you know ;D) I have also been finally able to play with Sony NEX-6 and NEX-7 during this trip enjoying not having to drag my heave Canons along and must say, I do like the results. I hope you do, too ;D.
One could say that winter is officially done. As my wife pointed out in her post of a first proper Alberta landscape sunset, the wait is finally over. I think it is safe to say, that we are back to the big Alberta skies, and perfect time for more spring and summer Alberta landscapes. It is so nice to be able to go out, in a T-shirt and feel the warmth of a setting sun, smell of the earth, and hear a high pitched buzz of a mosquito. Yep, they are out there already. It's really unnerving when you are focused on taking that great image, and hear that familiar buzz in your ear. Do I swat it and ruin the image, or wait it out?? Times likes these I'm glad I have a digital camera.
I took these images over the last couple of days. First it was a planned trip. We left early enough to find a spot, setup, and get ready. The second was a typical "Hey, do you see the clouds?? We have 10 minutes, grab the dog and the cameras! Lets go!" type of deal. Both times the Sony 10-18 got a nice work out. It's a great lens. Beautifully wide to capture the big Alberta skies, and sharp for great detail. Did I mention it's light? Not to mention the Sony NEX camera's flip up screen, which allows to get the camera down low, with out subjecting myself into lying down in the mud, or shooting blind. You must forgive me, I'm getting older, and unlike my co-host from Shutter Time with Sid and Mac podcast, who likes to get muddy and dirty on her wildlife shoots, I like to stay relatively clean and dry. Call it lazy, or lack of dedication, but I say why get dirty if I don't have to :)
So here are the shots from the last two days. Enjoy the sunsets!
Sunsets and Comets
Last couple of days we had this fairy big snow storm in our area. All the snow that melted during last few weeks of nicer weather, came back with a vengeance. Dan Jurak, a great local landscape photographer, whose writings I follow regularly, was stating that we are in that transition, where the winter landscapes are not very good to photograph. I completely agreed with him, and then we got dumped on by mother nature. So the first chance we got, my wife and I headed out to Elk Island. First was because I wanted to get a particular shot, second time we wanted to see the Pan-Starrs comet, of which we completely forgot the first time. Knowing our luck, the skies clouded over, which gave us a beautiful sunset, but obscured the comet.
Since we were in the park, and it was getting dark, we wanted to do a few night shots. This is where I run into problems. I currently shoot with Sony NEX, and Fuji cameras. The normal lenses on these cameras are great, if you have enough light in the scene to focus on something. They are absolute utter crap for night photography. I was expecting this going in, but I thought I could over come this somehow. Not a chance. The problem is that these lenses, have an electronic focusing system, so the focus ring does not have limiters at infinity and the closest focus point, like normal lenses. You can turn that ring and turn and turn and turn. Since I'm taking a photo of the sky, with a wide angle lens, I can't see anything in the view finder or the LCD screen. I have no idea if I'm in focus. At least with the manual lens you could set the focus to infinity, close down the aperture, and all would be great. Next time I will have to bring my manual lenses for night photos.
The days are getting longer, and after work I have a little bit of time to actually catch a sunset. This year's winter weather, is rather strange. Most of the time it's overcast and gray, only seldom the sun comes out. This was the day the sun was out, and I had my 10-18mm Sony lens with my Nex-7 camera. I finally have my landscape lens. I love big skies, and Alberta landscape lends itself well to the big sky phenomenon :) This new Sony lens is just perfect for that. It's sharp all the way through, and at 10mm (15mm full frame equivalent) it's very very wide. Most of my landscape right now, are shot for HDR. I also have been following the blog of a really inspiring Alberta Landscape photographer, Dan Jurak. I always admired his landscapes, so when he posted his settings for processing HDR in Photomatix, I had to try it. So here are are some images from that evening. Enjoy!
Oh I know that this is already 2013. I know we should all get a fresh start to everything, but I still have so many images from last year that I haven't posted. Like this set, for example. Taken during the early fall, morning at the Elk Island National Park. Me and my wife went out in the early hours to see if we can catch a sunrise in the park. We got lucky with wildlife as well. Not only we found some silly bison, but a sneaky coyote as well. At that time I was testing the manual 70-210 Vivitar lens on the Sony NEX-7... and ended up with a few missed shots, but also quite a few good ones. Here are the best of the bunch, from that lovely day. Enjoy!
Yes winter is still here.... it's cold, white, and because of a constant cloud cover, very uninteresting for taking pictures. I thought maybe I would revisit some of the images taken during the year, and I found this cache of old photos from the summer. I was testing an old Pentax macro lens with the Sony NEX-7, and focus peaking. I was planning on testing it out how well it would perform in a macro situation. I was quite impressed how well that worked. Here are some images from that day. Enjoy!
I have a confession to make... I love Elk Island National Park. I love going there and getting lost in the silence of nature. It's a perfect place for landscape photography, lifestyle, family photography, and of course wildlife photography. It's not far from where I live, and makes a great trip if you want to just get away for a few hours. Of course sunsets at the Astotin Lake are always quite a sight. Each is different, and each offers unique opportunities for really great images. I have a lot of these in my library, and I never get bored looking at them. Since our cold and white Canadian winter is in full swing, I thought adding a little color might brighten up the day. So here is yet another sunset, at Elk Island. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago, we wanted to get away. To go somewhere. Mountains is always a good choice. Packed up the gear, and the kids :), and headed out for a photo filled weekend. It was a beautiful weekend weather wise, and my wife wanted to get some star and landscape photos. Banff, Alberta is a perfect place for star pictures, as the whole area has very little light pollution. It was a wonderful evening, beautiful sunset, and a wonderful time with the family. The stars finally showed, and so did the milky way. Unfortunately, I completely screwed up the settings on mine and my wife's cameras. My exposure times were completely wrong, and I did not realize this until we got home. The exposure was way too long, and although the mountains looked great, the star started streaking, and the images looked bad. Sad really. I completely forgot about the 500 rule, and was using settings I normally use on Northern Lights. So not only did I ruined my photo's, I ruined my wife's too. Perfect. So what is this rule? It's very very simple.
500 divided by the focal length of your lens equals the time of exposure
So let say you are shooting with a full frame camera with a 15mm lens. The exposure time before the stars start streaking is calculated by 500/15=33.3. 33.3 is the time in seconds you have to capture the stars before they start moving across the image. Now on the crop sensor cameras it is the same thing, but a 15mm is really a 24mm, so this calculation 500/24=21.8. So as you can see, with the same lens you have a 9 second difference, between the full frame camera and a crop sensor camera. Yep, and I messed it all up. Shame on me. As a consolation here are some of the landscapes I managed to capture before the sun went down. Enjoy!
Continuing from the previous lifestyle portrait photography session, here is another part of the walk. It was a beautiful day, and fall colors were spectacular. It was hard not to take a bad picture. Then again using my two favorite cameras, namely the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Sony NEX-7, makes taking images great fun. Not much can be said about this part of the walk, so please enjoy the images!
I've been really testing myself lately with manual lenses, and small cameras. For manual lenses I really prefer using my Sony NEX-7 over the Fuji X-Pro1. Why? There is only one reason... and the reason is focus peaking. Sony has this function of showing, the photographer, what is in focus by highlighting the edges of the object in focus. This makes manual focusing so much quicker and easier. The other day, my wife and me, decided to visit a local garden in the morning. Of course this was before the current cold and snowy weather we are experiencing. I took with me the Sony NEX-7 and my Vivitar Series 1 70-210 lens. What is really cool about that lens, it's a macro lens as well. A little button press, and it switches from a regular telephoto zoom, to a macro. I really wanted to test how well the macro feature will work with the focus peaking function of the Sony camera. I was pleasantly impressed. A little bit of practice, anticipation where your subject may be, and all worked out quite beautifully. Here are some shots from that morning. I hope they at least brighten your November day. Enjoy! Mac
When photographing people, I always preferred natural behavior as opposed to posed. I like catching people off guard, and taking their pictures, when they are not paying attention. I think it just more honest that way. I'm not a fashion photographer, and have no aspirations on becoming one. There are some really great ones out there, that can control the light and make magic with a model. I like to find the natural, interesting part of a person and focus on that. Yes, some images are posed, but I try to be simple with the posing.... sit there, lie down.... that sort of thing. Same thing with light. I like simplicity. Maybe because I'm not very smart, or just plain lazy, but simplicity and minimalism always grabbed my attention :) This was the idea during this session. I call these Lifestyle and Portrait. They may not fit into those categories really well, but in my mind this is what they are. Beautiful fall day, lovely colors, and just a simple walk in between all that. It's really hard not to take good images when you have a beautiful model in front of the camera. So I tried to capitalize on all these factors and here are some images from that day. Enjoy!
This idea came from another photographer, and it didn't exactly go as planned :) I don't mind. I was there shooting just for the fun of it. Location wasn't what the other photographer envisioned either. The whole set up was going to be "sad girl in the rain".... it didn't rain that morning. Since we needed water, and at the original location access to water was difficult, we changed it to my back yard. We simulated the rain with a hose.... needless to say, my wife got almost as wet as the Girl in the Rain. It was a cold morning as well, so this took a few tries, as the poor, brave Brittany faced the cold weather and cold water. I was shooting with both the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Sony NEX-7. Today I only shoot with these two cameras. They are both great for weddings, engagements, portraits , landscape .... you name it. They are small, light, and portable, and don't attract too much attention. I highly, highly recommend both of these cameras. Here are some images from the session in the "rain", where sad, turned to sensual. Enjoy!