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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 210 - Ganesha?!

I have definitely made some improvements in my smoke shots today - I have managed to direct the light in a way that the smoke is actually quite visible, instead of being just faint impressions most of the time yesterday.

And look what I found!  The first shot brought out of the camera looked like an elephant and then after processing the blacks a little bit, I found it looked like the Hindu Elephant God - Ganesha!  And the second one gives me the feeling it's a centaur or something.  I'd love to know what comes to your minds when you see these images.

Minimal processing - darkened the blacks and added a little bit of definition and luminance.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 209 - Holy Smokes!

This is my second try at smoke photography.  I had a lot of fun doing this but it's far from perfect.  I intend to improve this over the course of this week, so you can either choose to stay tuned (while getting bored) for the how-to that will come right after I'm done as much as I could, or you could come back in a few days.  :)  Smoke photography is actually pretty interesting, if you haven't tried it before.


Day 208 - Unintentional

This was taken yesterday, although I didn't get a chance to post it until now.

I was chilling after a day's fun and laughter with some good friends over pretty good food (although I say so even though I was the cook), and had no intention of doing any photography.  But the camera was lying right there on the ottoman, under my nose, and I decided to pick it up and play with it.  I took 3 shots of this piece of the wreath illuminated by a burning candle.

This shot was taken with the camera resting on the couch, and is straight out of the camera except for a crop and watermark added in post.  If you're wondering why I even bothered to post such a careless shot, it's because I didn't want to miss another day.  I am now over the 200 mark, and want to see this project through with as little disruptions as possible.

But come to think of it, the light isn't bad, although the image could have definitely been better composed.  Ah, well!  Not everything that comes out of the cameras of the masters is a masterpiece, so I can't expect that to happen to me either (although I would really love it to be that way!) and I keep telling myself that so I don't lose heart.

250 mm, f/5.6, 10s, ISO 100, Manual Mode, AWB

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 207 - Snow-Crowned Sparrow

Nah - there's no such species like that!  Read on, and you'll know what I mean.

We had the first proper snow of this season.  When I awoke this morning, I was greeted by a white blanket that God had decided to lay over the sleeping world.  It looked beautiful, and I always enjoy watching the snowflakes come gliding down.  But today, it was windy, really windy, although not too cold.  I picked up my camera, donned a jacket over my jammies and got out on the balcony for the first shots.

I probably scared the sparrows as I stepped onto the balcony and I suddenly heard a big flapping of wings and squeaks and chirps and then saw a cloud of sparrows rise up and take itself to the trees nearby.  I saw a pair of them that sat together and as I aimed my camera at them, I saw one of them lean over and eat snow off one of the branches.  I was quick enough to catch the action, however, it was so windy, the branches and the motion of the sparrow kinda blurred the shot a bit.  And then I saw the little bit of snow that had collected on this sparrow's head - he looked adorable, the little snow-crowned sparrow!

Serious birders would have a heart attack if they were to see nothing beyond the title of the blog post!  ;-)

In the above shot, I think I see a mist from the sparrow's breath.  I might be hallucinating entirely as well.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 206 - Week of Lights - Rushing

I was rushing to post before midnight, so I did a few quick shots.  But I was still too late.  Ah, well!

Taken in a dark kitchen, light source is my iPod Lights App held in front of subject, at camera top.  I tried a couple of shots using aperture priority, but I was getting a far slower shutter speed than I wanted, causing overexposure.

So, I switched to Manual mode and set the shutter speed and aperture and got this shot.  This shot has minimal processing - I stepped up the vibrancy a bit, and that's all I did.  I wanted the lines to be brighter, but overexposing it a bit didn't yield the desired results.  I guess I will need to find another way to do this.  This goes on my list to try again in the future.

90 mm, f/4.5, 3.2s, ISO 400, AWB, Manual Mode

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 205 - Week of Lights - Lemonade

My weekend started today as I've got the day off tomorrow.  But I would have loved this long weekend more if I knew I could just chill and do as I pleased.  Well, life isn't so simple, nor was it meant to be.  So, I have to run errands and get a lot of important stuff done tomorrow, including an oil change and getting winter tires put on.  At least I know that driving will be better when the snow hits.

To commemorate the early start to the weekend, I decided to drink lemonade out of my stemware!  What an idea!  No, I'm kidding!  I just needed another subject for the light experiment for this evening, and I thought that trying to catch the rainbow reflections would be nice.  But the light from the iPod wasn't bright enough to do that.  But I got close to what I wanted, so I gave up after about 10 shots.  Again, I shot these images with the lights off.

In the first image, the colour you see in the background is created by the streetlights reflecting on the wall; and the junk I had on my table, behind the subject, helped create the soft patterns.

Both shots were taken with the 90 mm lens with the glass placed on top of my iPod screen with the light coming from the Lights app.

f/6.3, 30s, ISO 400, Aperture Priority, AWB

f/6.3, 1/6s, ISO 400, Aperture Priority, AWB

I think I like both the shots!  The bottom one looks quite pretty actually.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 204 - Week of Lights - Slacking Off!

I was that close to not doing my shot of the day!  But then I roused myself out of my tired and benumbed state and took precisely four shots.  I definitely like the red version over the blue or yellow ones.

Any guess what this might be? ;-) 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 203 - Week of Lights - Upload failed

I'm having some technical difficulty with uploading my image today.  Please find it on my Flickr photostream  and I apologize for making you click again.

Hope to be back on track tomorrow!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 202 - Week of Lights - T for Tired!

Thanks to those who visited my blog recently and started following my ramblings.  I hope to keep this interesting and informative with all my quirky experiments with different things.  Please feel free to comment and give me feedback, so I can keep improving.

I have decided on the theme of the week and I think I'll try to keep this theme (of themes) going on for as long as I can do it.   As you've already gauged from the title, the theme is Lights for this week - yes the iPod app I used on the marble yesterday.  

And yes, I truly am tired.  Went shopping after work and was stuck in traffic for over an hour.  

I used Tic Tac (and in case you're wondering, I ate them all once I finished with my shoot) and put them on the white foam core board I have.  

What started off as this (grayish because of the fluorescent lighting despite the CWB):

Turned into this:

And then, this:
... with the lights out.

If you look carefully, the blue image has quite a bit of vignetting (dark edges), but the bottom one doesn't have as much.  That's because, the light from the iPod (I was holding it steady just above the tic-tacs) in the blue image falls off pretty close to the subject.  

However, noticing the dark edges, I tried to eliminate that by moving the light around to the corners as much as possible, without throwing the "T" into too much shade.  And by moving, I mean literally moving the light all over the subject while the shutter was open, like I'm painting the subject with the light. 

Upon reviewing, I found that the pink one still had quite a bit of dark edge in the top left corner, whereas the bottom right corner was pretty well lit.  

I guess I will have to work on this again soon.  The small source of light is the reason this is happening.  I might try keeping the overhead light on the next time around, and see what results it yields.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 201 - Week of Lights - Floating Marble

Electric coloured floating marbles!  If you're interested in finding out how I got the marbles to float, check out my Tutorials page.  Also, do check back my tutorials from time to time as I add more photography adventures to it.

Have fun floating! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 200 - Macro Week Complete and I'm on Day 200! Yay!

Today was a day of changed plans - thanks to the horrid weather we have been having since late last night.  The forecast called for a bit of early morning snow, so I got all excited and set the alarm for sunrise.  But, the winds started up late last night - howling and gusting at almost 80 kmph!  I barely slept for the storm raging outside and when I woke up to the alarm I only saw sheets of rain and snow being blown around.  I couldn't possibly go out in that.  So, I didn't even do my grocery shopping today, and neither did I go out for an evening photo shoot as I'd planned.

My first lot of shots this morning didn't turn out great at all.  Then as I was baking some muffins this evening, I decided to turn my camera on those.

The pictures were taken under fluorescent lighting, so I did it on CWB.  I shoot mostly in RAW but still like to adjust the WB in-camera because I prefer to spend less time trying to fix that in post.  Although I'm using Lightroom 3 now, and it's a breeze fixing images, I still prefer to fix my WB in-camera.  Of course, there is no great WB fix for fluorescent lighting, but I find the light in the images a lot improved, as opposed to the green cast it always takes on when shooting in this kind of light situation.

And if you're wondering what muffins these are - hold tight, it's a loooong name - Banana-Blueberry-Chocolate Chip-Pecan Muffin.  These are deliciously fluffy and moist!

I've improved the recipe over time, and I'm as much an experimental cook as I am an experimental photographer.  If you want the recipe for the photos, find them below:

90 mm, f/32, 25s, ISO 100, Custom WB, Aperture Priority

90 mm, f/22, 13s, ISO 100, Custom WB, Aperture Priority

Now, if you are hungry from just saying the name, and want the recipe for the muffins, here it is! :o)

Recipe for Banana-Blueberry-Chocolate Chip-Pecan Muffin
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • couple of handfuls of chopped nuts ( I use walnuts or pecans, depending on what's available on hand)
  • couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • handful of chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, beaten egg and melted butter.
  3. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.
  4. Stir into the banana mixture until well blended.
  5. Stir in nuts, blueberries and chocolate chips.
  6. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and spoon in the mixture up to 2/3 full. 
  7. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  
  9. Or, if you're like me and can't wait to dig in, drop a blob of butter on top of a warm, freshly baked muffin and enjoy!
Mmmm  mmmmuffins!!  Isn't that delicious!!!  And you will just not go wrong with this recipe ... trust me! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 199 - Macro Week - Rum Cake

A colleague brought in some rum cake that he had baked.  Being German, he's a fantastic baker, and this cake was fluffy and really moist as well.  We had pieces of this towards the end of the day, so it was a really great way to cap off the work week.

Fortunately, I had my camera with me today as I'd intended to go out during the lunch hour and do some texture photography.  But that didn't come to pass and I was getting a little restive about what to photograph today.  The opportunity to take a shot of the cake was too great to pass up and so I took a big bite off it, and got to work.  :)

I can't say the composition is the greatest, because I became a little conscious of my colleagues watching me as I took the shots.

90 mm, f/3.2, 1/15s, ISO 200, Aperture Priority, Custom WB

Day 198 - Macro Week - Eggstatic!

I really am ecstatic that I have been able to carry forth with the macro theme for the week.  Although, this isn't macro photography by any stretch of imagination, I still used the macro lens and had to deal with the 90 mm constraint.  I am glad I took this up, because it's really challenged my creativity to come up with images that are constrained by both lens and lighting.  I will definitely have to find something for the rest of the week, and ideas are greatly welcome!

I used a similar light set up as I did yesterday - lit the subject from beneath and softened the light with a sheet of parchment paper.

These eggs came from a coworker's farm and besides enhancing the contrast and saturation a bit, nothing much has been done to the colours - they naturally look so colourful!  (See my older post for another set of images of an earlier lot of eggs. )
90mm, f/8.0, 1.6s, EV- 1/3 stop, ISO 200, Aperture Priority, Custom WB

Happy Face
90mm, f/4.5, 0.8s, EV- 1 stop, ISO 200, Aperture Priority, Custom WB

Just Beat It! :)  
90mm, f/4.5, 0.6s, EV- 1 stop, ISO 200, Aperture Priority, Custom WB

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 197 - Macro Week - Marbles

These shots were lit by a lamp placed directly underneath the glass table on which I placed the marbles.  I used a sheet of parchment paper underneath the glass tabletop to cut down the reflections a little.  And if you're wondering how I got the marbles to stay put, guess what!  I used some glue of course!  

90 mm, f/5.0, 1/6s, ISO 200, Manual Mode, Custom WB

90 mm, f/5.0, 1/4s, ISO 200, Manual Mode, Custom WB

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 196 - Macro Week - Tender Coriander

I'm truly in the doldrums, as I told one of my very kind Flickr friends!  I am actually a little low on energy and inspiration because I've been a bit under the weather and my son has been more ill than I was.  However, he seems like he's finally on the mend; but I'm quite exhausted.

I was going to use this bunch of coriander leaves in my cooking, and suddenly decided to turn this into an image.  And the droplet was an idea right after the first shot - I love doing water droplets, except this time I didn't have a lot of great ideas/objects to use for the reflection.  So I grabbed the first thing I could find and took a couple of shots quick, quick!

90 mm, f/5.0, 1/6s, ISO 800, flash fired at - 2, Manual Mode

90 mm, f/29, 13s, ISO 100, Aperture Priority

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 195 - Macro week - Pinned!

It was pretty interesting trying to get the push pins to stay put and not rock and roll around the board (no pun intended because the board was balanced precariously on the edge of the table and a slight movement from me made it unstable!).

I took these shots in extremely low light - the only light filtering through was the fluorescent from my kitchen.  I adjusted the white balance and tone in post.

I hadn't realized how much dust the pins had had on the surface, till I looked at them much later on the LCD.  Oh, the joys of negligence!  I had to clean up my act and retouch them to remove the dust of course.  I could have spent a tenth or less of the time if I had just remembered to give them a polish first!  Lesson learned!

90 mm, f/32, 30s, ISO 100, Aperture Priority

90 mm, f/32, 30s, ISO 100, Aperture Priority

I tried a few other exposures and apertures, but I didn't quite like the results.  The only difference between these two shots is the composition, and nothing else.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 194 - Macro week - Colour me glad

I have decided to take on a macro challenge for myself for this week - any photograph I take will be with my 90 mm macro lens.  I will just have to put on my thinking cap and forge right ahead.  Me thinks, I might actually like this challenge.

90mm, f/32, 15s, ISO 100, Aperture Priority

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 193 - Time for dessert

Dessert is my favourite course in a meal and I could sometimes just eat it as the main course if it's one of my favourites.  This was a new dessert that I found at the grocery store and decided to give it a try.  It's a raspberry-mango verrine.

It looked really appetizing, but I found it a trifle dry.  The base was a piece of sponge cake soaked in raspberry syrup, with a mango mousse in the centre.  Not my favourite, but I'm tempted to try the chocolate one the next time around.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 192 - Lunch break

We had a photo club meeting which I was expecting to be poorly attended.  But I raced through my lunch and went out to find that there was a complete no-show!  I was really disappointed as I was expecting at least a couple of people to be there.  Anyway, I didn't let the afternoon go to complete waste and I wandered around for a bit in the freezing cold and windy afternoon.

I love playing with lens flare and this was quite the ultimate!  The flare in the sky looks like a video game character to me - pretty cool!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 191 - By the Old Port again

I was scoping out the Old Port area to see if I could find any interesting spots for tomorrow's photo shoot.  I know that most of the club members won't show up as they'll be away on a team outing.  But there will be a few who will.  And we're having good weather after a very, very long time and I thought that we should definitely make the most of it.

It was extremely windy and my fingers were frozen.  I didn't have a very thick coat, and neither did I have a hat or a scarf.  However, I still spent a good 45 mins. outside and got a few shots I liked.  the only problem I had was that I wasn't carrying my 18 - 55 mm lens and therefore missed a few more I thought could be interesting.  These shots were handheld and were taken using a C-PL around 3:00 pm; the sun was already pretty low in the sky by then.

They Port Authorities have already moved these piers into storage, I think.  I am certain I saw them out in the canal during the summer.  
55 mm, f/9.0, 1/6s, ISO 100, Manual Mode

I was fascinated by those black.. umm.. thingies.  So, I used my lens as binoculars, but I still can't tell what they are.  However, I got beautifully saturated colours because of the C-PL and I liked the windswept white reed-like flowers in the foreground. 
131 mm, f/10, 1/20s, ISO 100, Manual Mode

55 mm, f/18, 1/100s, ISO 100, Manual Mode

Incidentally, I love these blue tiles and I had been wanting to do this shot for a long time now, but the light or the time I checked it out earlier were never right.  Today it just seemed perfect!  The dappled light really makes the blue pop!  
55 mm, f/4.0, 1/30s, ISO 100, Manual Mode

This image was taken through a glass window.  The C-PL wasn't good enough to cut out all the reflections, so I put the lens right up against the glass and took the shot.
55 mm, f/4.0, 1/13, ISO 400, Manual Mode

I was really pleased with this one as this was handheld on a really slow-shutter and I only added a little bit of sharpening in post.  The colours and exposure are as they were in the original.  I'm pretty proud of this one. 
55 mm, f/4/0, 1/2s, ISO 800, Manual Mode

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 190 - What's cooking?

Not much.. just the same old recipe!  Set up the shot, click a few and then post!

This was from yesterday - I have nothing to post for today as I had a few things to take care of first.  I'll be back to work at my posts tomorrow.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 189 - Comforting

After turning out some not-so-great shots yesterday, I was determined to do some photography during the day.  And I was glad I did!

I wish the hand looked like a model's - youthful and slender! :(  Anyway, so much for vanity!  I think this turned out well in the end.

Day 188 - White (dis)Balance

When I don't get a chance to do photography during the day, I obviously have to think of indoor subjects in artificial light as I'm not in a position to buy a flash right now.  I have come to a decision that I will just continue to use the lamps I have and find suitable subjects to photograph in that - something that's in keeping with the theme of artificial light.

I used a C-PL for these shots as I was getting a lot of reflections from the serving platter.

This evening's other challenge was the WB and despite using a custom WB, I didn't quite get what I was after.   You will notice the difference in the colour cast in each of the images.  I will have to spend some time figuring out what happened.  For now, I didn't change the WB in post as I wanted to keep a record of what went on with it this evening.