Tag Archives: 2011

Playa de la Concha

Following my purpose of experimenting with techniques I am less familiar with, this weekend I decided to practice with some panoramas.

The pictures are from Playa de la Concha, in San Sebastian (also called Donostia), located in Northern Spain not far from the border with France. The panorama was assembled from 6 handheld images, put together with the amazing open-source tool Hugin.

Mount Saint-Michel

Been recently on the road, travelling all the way from London to Granada. One of the nicest spots we stopped at was Mount Saint-Michel. Awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site since long time ago this tiny little village lies on a tidal island about 1km off the North coast of Normandy.

Mount Saint-Michel

Kind of overcrowded by tourists, the impressive views get a bit spoiled by the amount of cars parked at the end of the causeway connecting the island to mainland, but it remains an amazing view nonetheless.

The picture is a single exposure (handheld) hdr, mostly to enhance the texture as overall weather was kind of cloudy/diffuse light, so there wasn’t much need for the extended dynamic range.

Burning flag

Wherever I travel, I love taking pictures of flags. They way a country choses to display their flag, as well as people’s atitude towards it, tells a lot about the country’s culture and society.

In some countries like Germany or Spain, gratuitous displays of the flag are often frowned upon (with the notable exception of sports events). Other European countries like the Netherlands have a more ambivalent and pragmatical attitude towards the flag. Finally, some countries like the US pride themselves on displaying their flag as often as possible, often in the most unexpected places!

This particular flag is the one in display in Liberty Island, right by the Statue of Liberty. A humungous flag, that can only wave thanks to the strong winds coming from the ocean. I loved the view of the sun right behind the flag, that made for some lovely textures and sharp contrasts.

Do you believe that in your country there are some strong feelings about your flag? Let me know in the comments!

Full moon

Last summer we could enjoy some pretty amazing almost cloudless full-moon nights. Not far from where I lived in Bonn there is this little Gothic church that I could see from my window. The view of the crosses under the full moonlight was quite remarkable!

I had to cheat a little bit and make two exposures to get this one right. Taking pics of the moon is tricky, as it is way brighter than it looks. So I used one really quick (about 1/1000s) exposure to get the moon properly, and a slower one to get all the nice shapes and details in the sky and cross.

Griffon vulture

More wildlife from Soria. During my visit to Cañón Río Lobos I had the chance to spot some griffon vultures overflying us. Even though they were flying low, the distance was considerable and required use of telephoto. In this case, I had my old 70-300mm, but a 400 would have come fancier.

Wildlife photography is really challenging. Besides the general high-speed movement of the vultures, harsh light conditions and the dusty, hazy air resulted in a bit of softness and some extreme blue fringing at the tips of the feathers. If I ever decide to go further down the road of nature/wildlife photography, I would probably need to get a sharper telephoto lens, but in the meantime I will stay on budget and keep the old one.

Little owl

In my recent visit to Soria (Spain) I got the chance to wander around the Cañón de Rí­o Lobos Natural Park. Very different from the deeply green natural parks I visited recently in Germany or England, and even further from the tropical climates in Tayrona, this part of Spain has a harsh almost desert climate, vegetation limited to small bushes and a few trees that can endure the lack of water and the temperature fluctuations.

Rio Lobos is a well known place for spotting birds of prey: vultures, hawks, sparrowhawks, and owls. Although my visit was a very short one, I was lucky enough to catch a few shots of this little owl (Athene noctua).

Similar to another wildlife shots, this is taken with a 300mm telephoto, wide open at f/5.6. Very narrow depth of field and tricky light conditions. Fringing was very strong in the whole series of shots, even near the center of the lens, but could get rid of most of it in post processing.

The kiss

At the entrance of St Pancras, one of the most dauntingly beautiful train stations I’ve ever seen, these two statues commemorate a scene that has happened, with different leading characters, countless times all over the world and ages. Whether the kissers are about to depart away from each other, or they just reunited after a long time away, that is for you to decide…

The sculpture is “The meeting place”, created by Paul Day in 2007.

Steampunk bed

Last month I used one of my free days in London to pay a visit to the steampunk exhibit at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum. In one of the rooms there was this wonderfully weird piece of furniture.

The whole setting, with the extremely bright lights coming from the window and the deep dark shadows under the bed, plus the textured velvety covers, was crying for some hdr treatment.

Like it? Too cooked for your taste? Let me know in the comments!

St Pancras train station

Train stations are always fun to shoot, even if sometimes the security guys can get kind of annoying. This picture is from St Pancras train station, London’s international train station where one can take the Eurostar train for a quick link with Paris or Brussels.

The whole space is getting revamped now in preparation for the Olympics, but the few spots free of scaffoldings and works in progress are still nice to look at!

The picture is a three exposures (handheld) hdr. The sky behing the glass ceiling looks kind of boring but in this case this is not due to blown highlights, but simply to the usual London cloudy thing.

Running bird

One more wildlife shot taken at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. I was constantly amazed by the abundance of birds and other animals mingling in the urban areas without any fear of people!

 

I don’t really know what kind of bird this is, so if you can tip me off on that, I will be very grateful :-D

Iguana

One more picture from Colombia! This one is from the gardens in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, in Santa Marta. All over the place one could find trees ranging between 200 and 400 years old. On the top of on of this trees, lazily sunbathing, there was a huge iguana.

 

The photo is a “standard sniper shot”. Telephoto extended to the longest 300mm range, wide open so that the shutter speed woud be as high as possible. To keep it steady needed to crank up the ISO a little bit, but not too much noise came out of that.

Have a good day!

The room of Bolivar

During the last days of his life, Simón Bolívar, seriously affected by a tuberculosis, moved to Santa Marta to enjoy the milder climates of the sea side. He installed himself in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Today’s picture is the room where he died, preserved just as it was that day. The clock in the wall is stopped at the time of Bolivar’s death.

The photo is an hdr made of two handheld exposures, merged with Photomatix and retouched in Photoshop.

Walking towards the light

This photo was kind of a happy accident. Walking in the city center of Santa Marta, all full of colonial style houses, I had been playing around with some camera settings in manual mode. Now, if you are into street photography (or photo journalism), one of the basic principles to always bear in mind is always to keep your camera in some safe quick-shooting mode, in case something happens.

 

There is a saying in photojournalism (that some attribute to Allen Hopkins, some to Robert Capa, and some to Arthur Fellig) “f8 and be there”. This rule means that it is more important to be at the right moment and the right place than to worry about the technical details of the camera setup. Some take it as a hint to keep your camera ready to shot no matter what the conditions are.

Well, this photo is certainly not the best example of this rule. The street we walked by was dimly lit, and the settings of my camera completely scrambled when I put it to my eye and snapped the shot, resulting in a very weirdly underexposed shot. In my haste to reset the camera before the couple walked away, I didn’t pause to erase the faulty picture, and this was the result. There are so many things that are technically wrong with this pic that they are not even worth enumerating, but much to my surprise even with all the scrambled settings it still kind of makes for a strong image, so I decided to keep it as a remainder for the future.