To all ye who want to paint with light ...

I should have started this blog many moons ago as I started experiencing the joys of rediscovering the art of photography. But as the saying goes - it's better late, than never!
So, here I am, in the hopes of recording what I learn as I progress from ignorance to enlightenment; about what my eyes can see that my camera can capture; and, what my mind imagines and my camera paints with its capabilities.

Please feel free to add any comments and share your wisdom (tips or tricks) that you have picked up along the way.

And do check out my How-To and Birding pages as well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 160 - The rains did stop, albeit temporarily

It's going to be a quick post for this evening.  I took all these images at the little duck pond that I used to frequent during the summer.  It's nice to see the ducks are still around, but late at night I hear the geese and I'm certain they are on their migratory journey southwards.  Feels depressing to think that winter's knocking on the door, but strangely, this year I feel much better about it than I have in any other year.  Maybe because I know that I will go out and do some photography at least, and mostly, I will be catching up on flash photography.

Today's shots are handheld as usual, except for the long exposure I did on the fountain.  I had rested the camera on the ledge of a rock and then shot this.  I had gone out with my complete gear, so had the opportunity to use all three of my lenses.  Lots of shots, but I processed only a handful for the post.  I'm like a squirrel storing its nuts for the winter.  Those shots will be brought out of the bag in the near future again! ;)

The last one is when I was almost home and saw this tree turned to gold under a street light.  This is SOOC, shot at 1/15s, f4.5, ISO 200, at 90 mm. 

Day 159 - When will the rains stop?

I got caught in a huge downpour just as I left work.  My umbrella flew off and turned inside out in the most awkward ways and I was sopping wet long before I got to the bus stop.  I didn't get a seat as usual, and I think it was a good thing today - I saw how beautiful the rain-slicked streets looked from the reflections of the colours in the puddles.

So, once off the bus (this time I wasn't impatient enough to jump off it) I rushed home, shed my wet coat (and did I tell you I bought it thinking it was waterproof and then realized I think too much?), didn't bother getting out of my wet shoes, had my son hand me my camera, and I ran out.  Although the rains had held up for a bit, it was still much too dark.  So, I bumped up the ISO and started shooting.  I tried looking for the puddles, and saw one that had nice reflections, but somehow couldn't get a shot I liked.  I am certain there will be more rain in the next few days, so I am going to take a shot at reflections again.  Here's one I got from this evening:

Noting that the light was getting feebler by the minute, I left that alone and walked over to where I saw a couple of red maple leaves amidst some yellow and brown against a nice grassy, green background.  And for the first time, I saw these yellow leaves all curled up into a ring!  Amazing little things - trying to figure out what they are.  Any idea?

Here's the little leaf ring!

The shot below could have been much better if I weren't hand-holding the camera at 1/10s.  I was finding it hard to focus (even after I turned the AF off, so I could focus manually) in the extremely low light but finally managed to get a somewhat clear shot.  I've cropped it in post to emphasize the droplet.  You can click on it for a larger view.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 158 - On the phone

No.. I don't mean I'm on the phone.  Today's shots were taken on my phone camera.

One wet day, today!  I saw a little bit of blue sky and was really excited hoping it would stay that way.  But the weather has a mind of its own - it decided to throw down buckets of rain instead.  I saw such pretty colours on my way home that I had to stop and admire the scene, sans camera.  And then I thought - wait!  What did I pay the big bucks for my phone for?  It has an 8 MP camera on it and so I whip it out to get some nice shots.  Of course the megapixels don't really have anything to do with the quality of the lens, but you do expect a moderately good piece of glass in a hi-res camera.  Well, at least I did!

I have used it before on a nice, bright day, but this evening was a completely different story.  I couldn't believe the grainy shots I got, no clarity or sharpness - nothing.  I am certain there are settings on the camera that I could have manipulated, but I have never really taken the time to get familiar with this one.  I made a mental note of that - make friends with your phone camera!

What a bummer it was!  Anyway, out of the 15 odd shots I took, I discarded most of them.  The following remain:

To add a final note. the first three shots were processed in LR3 and the last one is SOOC.  I think the difference in quality between them is noteworthy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 157 - Tiny hands and tiny feet

Went to see a friend's two-month old and took some casual shots.  Nothing truly amazing, because the light was a huge challenge, especially on an overcast day when you aren't getting enough light through the windows.  And to top that, the baby being a little upset didn't allow me the opportunity of taking images at slow shutter speeds.  So a few shots during nap time turned out the best! :o)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 156 - Guilty of too much indulgence

This is my new trinket!  Did I need it?  Of course not!  Did I want it?  Well, d'oh!

Ok.. that has been my conversation with myself for the past few hours - ever since I walked into the store I dread walking into.  Anyway, too late now.  I've been feeling really unwell all evening, and I'm consoling myself that it's not the guilt, but probably the 'flu that's killing me.  (Let's hope it's not the 'flu;  I have places to go tomorrow.)

So down to the photoshoot - I was experimenting with my flash again.  I set it to full power about a foot and a half away from the subject to camera left.  I used a white foam board to bounce the light of the flash onto the watch.  All other light sources were turned off.  I held the board just in front of the on-camera flash (powered down to -2 stops because I was using it to trigger the slave flash), so it wouldn't fire directly on the subject.

I used my 90mm lens and shot them all on manual exposure.

The first shot is SOOC.
F7.1, 1/200s, ISO 100

The next one here was without a flash.  When I was processing this, I realized that I could see the colourful reflections of my jammies (see the shot above) on the watch dial, and therefore decided to turn this into a B&W.  I think I like the B&W better.
f32.0, 10s, ISO 200

This next one was flashed with the reflector bent at an angle towards the subject which added that darker part at the top half of the image; I only added a little clarity and luminance in post.
f9.0, 1/200s, ISO 200

This last one was shot with the on- camera flash powered up now to 0, and then covered with the hand.  
f7.1, 1/200s, ISO 100

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 155 - Tired

I didn't do any photography today - I was completely fatigued for a lack of sleep for days now! :(  Happens too often for comfort, but well, that's me!

I ended up snoozing in the evening, and thought I'd take this chance to process a few shots I took yesterday.  Not sure which composition of the leaves with the house in the background I like better - probably the first one.  What do you think?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 153 - Cyclists

I was scoping out a good place to do some cycling and skating photography for our next photo club meetup.  And for that I had to try out some shots myself.  This was my first time doing it and I realize that it's not such an easy thing to do.

One is that you have to be really good at panning.  You also have to be able to make spot decisions on whether you want a motion blur, or would you rather keep the cyclist in sharp focus and this I think depends on the speed at which the cyclist is coming.  A faster cyclist would be helpful in getting a good blurred background if you're able to pan properly.

Background plays a big role.  I didn't find a place with a really great background to start with, because I had positioned myself at curves which were next to parked cars, or fences.  The place I had originally thought of as great, might not be as great after all.

But the most important lesson from all of this was that a photog has to forget being self-conscious.  I was, and I was paranoid that I might be told off by someone because this wasn't a public event of any sort.  So, I had to be somewhat candid with the camera.

Here are a few shots from the evening.

I had a nice low angle in this one

Low angle, but not low enough

Standing full height while panning

As above

The last one was by far the best shot I got because this gentleman was zipping by, so I could get a good blurred background.  But the green post got in the way of this one! :(  (I have to look out for this next time)  Since the other cyclists were much slower at the turn, so the panning wasn't as effective.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 153 - Boulder Bay

While on another walk by the riverside, I discovered this boulder in the river, and then as I got closer to it I found a little inlet (if I can even call it that) by the shoreline.  So, now my name for that little hidden cove (my imagination does make it sound exotic, doesn't it!) is Boulder Bay!  

So, I stood by boulder bay just breathing in the cooling autumn air and scents and realized that the moon was reflecting on the tranquil waters of the St. Lawrence.  I have very rarely seen the water as tranquil as it was this evening.  Since I was only armed with my 18-55 mm lens, I stood there and tried different perspectives.  I have a few other shots that came out pretty well, but I will have to take my time to sort through them.

Day 152 - Getting ready for cooking classes

I have to restart my cooking classes soon after the summer break.  Therefore, the culinary experiments will continue feeding my Photo 365 project.  Yay!

The pictures were taken handheld under fluorescent light.   I actually had no plans of doing this when I started, but changed my mind halfway through the process since I was falling back on my photos again.

What I made was a potato-stuffed Indian bread which can be made spicy or mild, and a spicy chick pea curry to accompany it.  The bread is pretty filling and can be a complete meal in itself when paired with a yogurt based salad, called Raita.  But I needed to check out the compatibility of the two together, since the chick pea curry is normally had with a plain (without stuffing) deep-fried Indian bread called a Bhatura. The type of bread I made is also normally deep fried, but I chose to try out a healthier option and baked them instead.  These are called Kulcha.  They turned out really good, if not better than the fried option. :)
The dough balls and the potato filling waiting to be rolled out

The baked bread
The potato stuffing inside

Just out of the oven

The spicy chick pea curry garnished with shallots, cilantro, julienned ginger and a slice of lime

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 151 - Abandoned boat

I found this canoe next to the river, in a really deep part of the woods on my evening walk.  I processed this in Lightroom 3.

Day 150 - Indoor portrait experiments

Another photo club meeting activity.  We had to stay indoors because of not-so-nice weather, so decided to use light from different sources to see how the photos turned out.  I have to admit that flash photography is probably not my forte, although I definitely mean to conquer that challenge.  I still prefer the use of ambient light and I hope for my own sake that I learn to use the flash.  Otherwise, winter is going to be a long and boring season with not much to keep me company.

Here are a few before and after shots. I used my on-camera flash at -2 stops to add a little fill light on one, and used a white foam board as a reflector on another.  I was using my 90 mm lens as well, hoping that the f2.8 would help with the low light inside the room we chose to experiment in.

The left frame is with the reflector and the right one is with on-camera flash.

This one was my favourite using just ambient light.  

The photos below are from the photo shoot we did recently with Jim Royal (in the first two pictures below). He was our instructor on how to use reflectors in portraiture.  The location in the first image was a covered area with light shafts coming in through the openings.  We used a silver reflector to catch the sunlight and then used a foam board to catch the reflection bouncing off the silver one to direct it to the face.  This helped soften the strong reflection of the silver one and created a beautiful smooth light.  
The one below was taken with the subject standing with the sun to the right of the camera, and a reflector to the left of the camera.  I didn't really like the yellowish cast which I found too strong, and therefore decided to change this to B&W.  I think I like this much better.

This one was with the subject facing away from the sun, with a reflector held just below the face, outside of camera frame.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 149 - Bailey's filled chocolates

I am starting to get into indoor mode already.  So, the first thing I did was to dust off my external flash that I had bought a few months ago and started experimenting with it.  I recently bought a few coloured bristol boards to use as backdrops, so along with my backgrounds, flash, and a steel serving tray that I use as a reflector, I got to work.

I used my 90mm lens for this shoot as the weather was pretty gloomy and I needed a faster lens to keep the ISO as low as possible.  I still had to have it at 400.  Most were shot in manual mode with the exception of the last one that was shot on AV.

With flash at a 60 deg angle to camera right at 1/64 power.

 Same set up but with flash at 1/16 power. 

 Off camera flash was pointed at the ceiling at 75 deg.  The on-camera flash was covered with a piece of paper to filter off the light since the camera was barely a foot away from the subject.  

This one is SOOC, shot only with ambient light. I think this is by far my favourite shot.

The top one was shot with the flash to camera right, at 1/16, and the steel tray used as reflector to cast a kind of rim light on the chocolate to the right at back.  The bottom shot was with ambient light and the reflector at camera right.

One of the last shots of the evening, I had a really hard time exposing the chocolate in focus.  I intentionally kept it away from the window side so I could use my flash/reflector to see how that would work.  I can't say I like this one much at all, but it was a good exercise to see how I could work with it. 

A fun shot - I seem to like doing this a lot lately! ;)

This was actually the very first shot that I used as the basis for the rest of the shoot.