This is another action shot taken in Southbank, London, not far from the place where I took the freerunning pictures.
Besides the usual action-shot photography challenges (quick shutter, hard to focus) that we have already mentioned before, this particular photo was taken under very harsh light conditions. There was extremely strong sunlight hitting directly the subject. As the biker was coming from the shadow areas, I had to guess the exposure level before he jumped, which resulted in a bit overexposed picture. I normally don’t like being so agressive with the post-processing filters, but with this photo I had no other choice.
Getting nice photographies of fireworks is quite challenging. First thing that need to be done is, of course, to know in advance when and where the fireworks are going to be displayed. For people living in the US, probably the safest bet is 4th of July; in the UK one might resort to 5th of November (aka Guy Fawkes Night or simply “Bonfire night”). Last May, I happened to be in Bonn during the Rhein in Flammen festival and decided to give it a go. This is one of the pics I got, and here are some of the things I learned that night:
- Location, location, location. My biggest mistake in this occasion was not scouting the area beforehand and getting to one of the sweet spots before it was crowded. A miscalculation on the firing place (firing takes place from boats) also ended up on having a tree partially covering the display for me. Not cool.
- Focusing in the dark night is almost impossible, so turn off the autofocus, as it will only slow you down. On the bright side, most likely the fireworks will take place quite far away, so focusing at infinity should work most of the time.
- Lenses: it is necessary to find a compromise between getting nice wide angle shots or zoomed in details. Since fireworks are actually quite bright aperture is not critical, so a lens with a good range (like the 18-105 or even better an 18-200 if you are lucky enough to have one) will cover most of the shots you may want to take. Changing lenses in the middle of the show is a no-no.
- Tripod. This is not negotiable. A remote release can come handy as well but is nowhere as important as the tripod.
- Metering will not work, as there is no way of knowing in advance the amount of light a particular blast will have, so switch to manual mode and experiment with a few shutter speeds. A good idea at the beginning is using continuous shooting mode together with some auto-bracketing. Once you have the light setting figured out, turn of the bracketing, though.
- Anticipating a nice blast can be very hard. I guess this is one of the things that comes with a lot of practice. I resorted a lot to continuous shooting, which resulted in a few good shots and many rubbish ones.
dPS also has some tips on how to photograph fireworks.
Walking on the countryside, a bunch of the cutest little cows was nearby. They were very friendly and came to say hi as I approached, and even lingered around posing for a few shots. Cows are way nicer than ducks :-D
This is a low-angle portrait, shot with a wide angle (26mm), wide aperture (f/4) and very fast shutter (1/3000s). Even so, it came a wee bit overexposed in the top-left clouds and a bit underexposed in the ears. Rule of thumb for this kind of pictures says that one should try to get focus on the closest eye, but somehow the nose looked more interesting in this case.
Not much to say about this one. Cows are fun!
Yet another picture from Lee Valley Park. Some of the activities offered by the complex are kayaking, rafting and canoeing. Now, I am not particularly fond of almost any kind o boats, but the whole thing brought some classic action shots opportunities that were just too good to let slip by.
Over the kayaking section of the river there was a little bridge that gave me the right angle with perfect lightning, so I could freeze the action with a 1/1500s shutter speed. Aperture was wide open at f/5.6 (the maximum allowed by my kit lens at 105mm). This is one of the occasions in which I wished I had brought my 70-300 along, but I decided to travel light so I had left it in Germany this time. As this was quite a long distance shot, even with the wide aperture almost everything was on focus. Lack of a closer zoom forced me to perform an aggressive crop, so the image size is about a third of the usual size.
Hope you like it!
Another picture from Lee Valley Park, same theme as yesterday. Crossing a little bridge over the canal I spotted these two swam with their little cygnets, lazily sliding over the calm waters. I was able to snap a few pictures before they went away. The swam family was quite less agressive than the geese one though; I got no hissing this time :-D
Today’s shot is a wildlife action shot. During a one day trip to Lee Valley Park, near London, we came across the cutest bunch of little goslings. I tried to approach them to take a cute shot when suddenly their mum decided I was getting too close and went in the way hissing at me like an angry cougar, it was pretty scary :-D
Unlike the squirrel, the mad goose was anything but posing, so in order to get a shot that wasn’t too blurry it was in order to go for the quickest possible shutter. Thanks to the bright sunlight I was able to shot at 1/500s, although maybe 1/1000 would have been better. Depth of field was narrow enough at f/5.6, so it was impossible to get a tack sharp focus (also the damn thing wouldn’t stay still for long enough). Overall I think it came alright.
This is the abandoned Wurlitzer building in downtown Detroit.
Having lost more than half of its population over the last decades, Detroit brings a whole new meaning to the “urban decay” concept.
As urban decay always fascinated me, I took the lucky chance during my random trip to Detroit and just wandered around the lonely streets like a ghost. As I was traveling alone, I didn’t feel confident enough to enter any of these abandoned places, so limited myself to take pictures from the outside. Maybe that will change in my next visit ;-)
The Wurlitzer building is located right downtown, and makes quite an impressive view. I love how someone took the time to decorate all the windows with little hearts :-D
Photographing wildlife often requires using similar techniques as taking portraits: in order to achieve subject isolation one resorts to wide apertures and background compression by using some zoom lens. However, there are also some trickier parts: not being able to get very close to the subject often forces using very long telephoto lenses, which often (unless you can afford buying a quick telephoto) has to be traded by a smaller aperture and hence an increase of the shutter time. For wildlife photography, shutter time is particularly critical, as your models are not very likely to stay still posing for you, and even minor camera shakes will get amplified by the use of telephoto lenses. In many aspects the treats required to take good wildlife photography resemble the ones required to be a good sniper.
This time I got an easy enough setting. This little red buddy came running through my legs and climbed a tree right in front of me, where it stood frozen for a few priceless seconds that I could use to bring the camera to my eye, compose, and shoot. Picture was taken at f/5.6, 105mm, 1/250s. Greyish background is due to a cloudy sky.
This awesome graffiti is located in Dalston Lane, very close to the Dalston Junction overground station.
Picture was taken under good light conditions, allowing to use low ISO in order to minimize the noise. For this kind of photo, everything that appears in the frame is in the wall at the same distance of the camera, so the aperture value is mostly irrelevant as there is no room for playing with the depth of field, so I went for a wide 4.8 aperture to compensate for the low ISO and be able to get my shutter as quick as possible (1/250s) for extra sharpness.
Hope you like it!
Last weekend we had in Nordrhein-Westallen the “Rhein in flamme” festival. Weather was just wonderful so we went for a picnic by the riverside to spend the afternoon before heading to Rheinaue for watching the fireworks.
Today’s picture is a little portrait of a friend I snapped without her noticing by taking advantage of the good ol’ 70-300. Background blur is achieved by both the long focal length and a narrow depth of field coming from a wide aperture (f/4). Hope you like it!
Sorry for the week without updates, I went back to London for a few days and got busy with the WPO festival, maybe next time I will leave a few programmed updates or something.
Anyway, it was a very productive week in London, I got the chance to meet many nice people and get a glimpse into the world of stock photography (which I haven’t decided yet whether I will try or not), took a quick assignment thanks to which I got a free t-shirt, and used an opportunity to go practice in three amazing photo-shoots with stage models. Besides that, wandering around the south bank I met a bunch of guys performing some amazing free-running flips. All in all, I have over 2000 new photos to take care of, some of which I want to do as soon as possible, so I will postpone my series on Detroit and the US trip.
Today’s picture features one of the boat that crosses the underground river below the caves of Remouchamps, a little Belgian town in the middle of the Ardennes (not far from Liege and the German border), which I visited right the day before going back to London. As you can imagine light conditions inside a cave are kind of precarious, so it took a 4 second exposure (camera standing firmly attached to the gorilla-pod) to get a decent amount of detail on the walls. A bit of filler flash was used at the end of the exposure in order to get the boat properly exposed.
Hope you enjoy it!
Underground river in the caves of Remouchamps, in the Belgian Ardennes.
I finally got to edit the pictures of my last trip to the US. For some work reasons, I needed to travel to Baltimore (Maryland), and since I had a free weekend right before the trip I decided to go on for some random variant of experimental travelling, just for the fun.
Rather than following one of the pre-assigned ET itineraries, I decided to put my fate on the hands of my favorite multi-destination air-fare finder website. So my rule was I would look for the cheapest possible London-Baltimore trip and then spend the weekend wherever my connection turned out to be. The lucky town happened to be Detroit, which conveniently enough I had never been to. I didn’t know much about Detroit besides its connection with Henry Ford and the car industry, so make the trip even funnier I decided I would not check a single travel guide, website, or anything about the city before I got there; the only thing I indulged myself arranging in advance was my hotel room. It would have been fun to go totally blindfolded but I am not 18 anymore and I knew I would appreciate having a place to go drop my luggage and take a shower after a 10 hours flight. So I got to my room, and after freshening up a bit decided to walk outside and wander around town. Today’s picture features the completely empty street I found right after coming out of my motel. Quite a contrast with yesterday’s pic, isn’t it?
More pics and stories to come in the next days, so stay tuned!
Empty street in sunny Detroit
Today’s picture comes once more from the dPS Photowalk in London last February. We had quite the rainy day, which was a bit of a bummer but offered some chances to take different kinds of pictures. Pics of winding streets offer good opportunities to use hdr techniques, enhancing the asphalt texture and the water reflections. The technique and settings I used to post-process this picture are very similar to the ones I used for this picture from Singapore. Maybe I should turn this into a theme series or something :-D
Hope you like it!
An architectural shot from the dPS photowalk last February. Going to this kind of gatherings is always fun, you get to know some nice people, rediscover parts of town you never paid a lot of attention to, and learn a lot just by observing what are all the other photographers taking pictures of. One might expect that after following a determined route pretty much everyone would snap similar photos, but nothing further from reality…
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