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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 283 - Out in the Snow Again

I think this week's theme will be snow!  That will also force me to go out and get some fresh air everyday.

Patterns in the snow

This brave girl walked all the way on the frozen river, kicking up the snow and ice!  What courage!  I was tempted to go down there and do the same, but I remembered in good time that I would be tempting Fate, since I don't even know how to swim! 

Reaching up and reaching out?  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 282 - Frozen to the Bones

I went out with a friend to do some outdoor portraits as he's a very athletic guy who loves winter sports.  We wanted to capture his outdoorsy nature, but how much can you smile or click in frigid temperatures and knee-deep snow?  Going out in the middle of the afternoon with the sun right overhead didn't help matters one bit.  But we still got a few fun shots.

Yay for the Gorgeous Day!


And this last shot is to only demonstrate how much snow we battled on location.  I wish I could also convey the extreme cold in some way, but alas, you might as well just take my word for it!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 281 -Upside Down Flower

I did this yesterday and almost broke my back trying to get the timing right.  I had seen this done before, where an object is dunked into water and the splash is caught underwater.  I have to try this again as I didn't get the result I was after.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 280 - The Monochrome Setting in your Camera

Before I could start complaining to anyone about how tired I felt, I decided to do my shot of the day.  I've become such a nag unto myself, lately - have to keep nagging to do the shot of the day, otherwise I am all eager to slack off.

I've had too many weekends with no rest and some commitment or the other, and that's finally gotten to me.  But you know the best part?  I'm going to be on vacation one whole week, starting Monday!  Yayyy!
I have quite a few errands to run, appointments to keep, but I'm going to try and finish all that by Tuesday, so I can just relax and do the stuff I haven't been able to do in a long time - watch a movie, listen to music, read a book and of course, do some sunrise and sunset photography.  I'm hoping we'll get some snow, so I can go out and do some frosty sunrises.  Let's see what Mother Nature has in store for me in terms of that.

These shots are of my little box of mints.  I took the shots in this dark and dingy part of my workstation because I was compelled to remain at it for a want of energy.  High ISO, and therefore the noise.  Soft focus, because the shots were handheld on an unstabilized lens on slow shutter.  No, I don't want to make excuses, but I'm just sayin'... ;-)  

Green Tea Mint

What I did today was set my camera to the Monochrome setting, and then compose the shots.  

So why shoot in "Monochrome"?  Read my how-to blog to see why.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 279 - Not in the mood for photography

Yet another set of images that went awry.  I have to say that no Muse in heaven could inspire me enough to compel me to pick up my camera.

I took a few shots of the snow near the bus stop, again with the point and shoot camera.  Much to my delight, the batteries gave out and I had no option but to stop clicking when I did.  The images on the LCD screen hadn't looked great at all, and therefore I thought I would set something up at home.  But alas!  Man proposes, but God (read as the lazy mind) disposes!

Day 278 - Silhouettes

These shots are from yesterday.  They were taken with my point & shoot camera and didn't turn out that well, so I converted them into B&W.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 277 - Say Cheese!

When I feel too tired to do the shot of the day, I start feeling even worse that I didn't post.. so I end up pushing it and posting again.

Say Cheese!

The image was made with an overhead tungsten light and finished off in Photoshop Elements to add a spotlight effect.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 276 - Breaded Omelette Recipe

I sometimes make this for a Sunday brunch, and it has become quite a favourite with family and friends alike.  It's really simple to make, and as long as you have bread and eggs at home, you can pretty much throw in any other add-ins that your palette or mind fancies.  I made this one with lots of coriander and topped it off with shredded cheddar cheese.

Breaded Omelette

You will need: 

Bread - 6 slices
Eggs - 4
Milk - 1/2 cup
Fresh coriander/cilantro - a big bunch
Cheddar cheese, shredded - 1/2 cup
Salt & black pepper powder - to taste
Crushed chilli flakes (optional) - to taste

What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Grease a small and shallow baking tray and keep aside.
  3. Cut the bread into small cubes - about 1/4 inch.
  4. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
  5. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add milk, coriander, salt and pepper.
  6. Once the bread is baked, pour the cubes into the bowl of egg mixture; mix well till the cubes have absorbed most of the liquid, but before they turn mushy.
  7. Pour this into the greased baking tray and top with crushed chilli peppers (if you are using it), and then with the shredded cheese.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes until the eggs have set completely.
  9. Cut the omelette into squares, and enjoy with ketchup or without any condiments - it tastes great as is.
For variations - you can add bacon bits, sausage, green pepper, onions, green onions, shrimp - you name it. 

I also made a smoothie with berries and bananas and that really went down well with the omelette.  

Breakfast Smoothie

And I wanted to try to get some reflections, but I didn't have the macro lens to do it right, so I just took a shot anyway. 

Day 275 - Cooking class

I finally have a couple of images from my cooking class.  This happened purely by chance, because normally I'm so busy trying to get things running on schedule, I never stop to take pictures.  However, my students for today's class wanted to somehow preserve the memory of coming for an Indian cooking class - a first for both.  And since they didn't have their cameras, I offered to do a quick photo of them posing with the meal they'd learned to cook.


This was the main course, and the dessert was cooling in the fridge.  We also learned how to make a great "Masala Chai" after the meal.

These two lovely ladies were really gracious and had absolutely no objections to my using their photo for my shot of the day.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 273 - Cooking Again!

If you're tired of seeing my food photographs, well, I should assure you that there aren't too many more to come.  ;-)  I have decided to finish my cooking classes for the season by March 31, after which I shall completely immerse myself in the Great Outdoors!  I might still teach an odd cooking class if there is a request, but I'm pretty much decided that it has to end with the beginning of Spring.

This weekend class's menu includes another chicken recipe - Chicken Jhalfraezi.  You will encounter quite a few variations in spelling of "Jhalfraezi", but if cooked properly, regardless of how you spell it, it tastes pretty good.

This dish is cooked with a lot of tomatoes, green peppers and onions, and not as many spices as some other recipes, but you could make this really hot and tangy by adding lots of green chillies and vinegar.

And with this, I've just been warned by Google that I've run out of storage!!  If you don't see me around for the next little while, you'll know that I'm trying to figure out storage solutions yet again.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 272 - Frozen at Sunset

Not just the river, but also my fingers!  I always pick the wrong day for staying out.  It was freezing cold at - 22 deg Celsius when I left work, but I am certain by the time I got to the pedestrian bridge next to the highway, it was much colder.  I couldn't stay out in the freezing cold for more than 20 mins or so, and that included my walk up to the bridge, which takes a good 5 - 7 mins. from the bus stop.

I will probably have to drop off the radar for the next couple of days, because I have another cooking class coming up.  However, I know I will have to do some food photographs again, so maybe I will be back sooner, who knows!

I didn't have my long lens, and I was pretty far from these giant reeds, and couldn't zoom in with my 18 - 55 mm.  Therefore, I had to compose with the taller ones silhouetted, as opposed to only the shorter backlighted ones, which was initially my plan for this image.

The river is completely frozen!  I loved the reflections of the setting sun on the icy parts.

Day 271 - Portrait Session - 2nd Day

These images are from Sunday. I took most of the images with ambient light coming in through my balcony door from the left of the camera with a flash side-bounced for additional light from the right - it was pretty gloomy and snowy by the time we were ready to shoot.

I used my 18 - 55 mm lens as I would have to get the family together, therefore a wider angle and the flexibility to get in tight was also required due to a lack of proper space in my make-shift studio.

I really liked the relaxed expressions on the faces when they all thought I was testing the light! ;-)  It's sometimes nice to just shoot in between posing the subjects, trying to catch them off-guard.

The littlest one had already scampered off, not wanting to be part of the photo session any longer.  He was much more at home watching my son play on his computer, than he was with us, posing for pictures.

I really love this shot! Dunno why, but I think it's mostly to do with how tight I was able to get them in, creating a feel of immense bonding.

Day 270 - DP Review Challenge 4th Place

I got the news from my good friend Swati, that one of the images I'd entered for a challenge made it to the 4th place on DP Review.  I was on the phone with her, when she was suddenly all excited and cried out "congrats - your pic made it to 4th place!"  For a few seconds, I didn't even register what she was talking about, and then when she got over her excitement, she explained that my entry to the "Objects" challenge had come in 4th.  I was ecstatic, because the last few entries just couldn't push through into the top 15.  I kept coming in at 21st, 22nd, 19th, etc, but I finally broke through.  I have posted this image on my blog before, but here's the link to the page:

And therefore, I decided to give myself a break from the photo of the day as a treat!  (Any excuse to be lazy!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 269 - Formal Portrait Session with Friends

I had a very good friend and her family come to visit over the weekend, and I had the opportunity to do some formal portraits with them.  We did this during the evening, and I brought out all my lighting equipment to see what I could accomplish with it.  Batteries are always running out, and with that my time to take pictures.  However, I got a few nice ones before I was forced to quit.

My friend's beautiful 10 yr-old.  Extremely photogenic and a lovely girl with a sweet disposition.  I had two flashes set up with the shoot-through umbrellas on a light stand.  The umbrellas were positioned about 60 deg in front of the subject at different heights.  The top one was the key light powered at 1/1, and the second one was the fill, powered down to 1/8, to fill in the shadows.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 268 - Something Unusual

I was on my way home and saw this spectacular sight that I couldn't even explain!  Has anyone ever seen a small segment of a rainbow?  And there was no rain or snow to have brought it on either!  It was a gorgeous day - full of bright sunshine and blue skies and suddenly this!

I saw it while I was still on the roads and I just kept praying that it would last till the time I was able to get a hold of my camera.   I called my son and had him bring it down for me...  with the 90 mm macro lens still attached to it!  I had no time to get the proper lens, for fear that it would just fade away or something.  I'm glad I got a couple of somewhat passable shots despite the lens challenge. Thus, this was only to record this phenomenon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 267 - Relearning the Alphabet - The Letter "K"

Ok!  This is it - the last one of the lot!  I've relearned my alphabet and I hope I've been able to jog your memory as well in the process! :o)

"K" for Kiwi

I'm afraid I wasn't able to avoid doing something quite as obvious as this, but those who have been following my blog know that right now I'm really hard-pressed for time, and ideas!  I'm consumed by my cooking classes, and although I don't have a class this weekend, I have friends coming from out of town.  Therefore, it's going to be a really busy weekend, preceded by a very hectic week.

Without rambling too much (I have to take care of the routine chores of cleaning right about now), let me tell you how I set this up.

I set up both my flashes on either side of the fruit, and had my son assist me with holding up the fruit (God bless him for his kindness! ;-)).  I set the zoom on the flash to 85 mm, and powered the flash down to 1/32.  I picked a fast shutter at 1/180s because I didn't want the clutter in the background to show up as I'd set the aperture to f/22.  Normally, the smaller the aperture, the larger the DoF.  But in this case, both a small aperture and fast shutter worked in my favour and darkened the background completely.  And just for the record, I used my 90 mm macro lens for this, although this wasn't a macro shot, but I wanted it to have a shallow DoF despite a small aperture.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 266 - Portraits

A friend of mine had entrusted me with the job of getting her some head shots that she wanted to use as her profile picture.  I was quite happy to oblige till the moment I walked into the room we had found to do this in.  

My original plan had been to use the natural ambient light from the window and add a little fill flash to do the rest.  Walking into that room I knew I would have a challenge because the day was especially gloomy and the walls of the room were a pale yellow on one side and grayish-green on the other.  And we had only about 10 mins. to complete this in, so I just had to finally resort to a studio-type shot after a few test shots failed to yield the results.  So, we closed the blinds on the window, and I used the blind as the background for this.  There were too many door and window frames that had to be avoided as well as some very curious eyes watching us from behind the glass panels! :-S

Ceiling-bounced flash, and not much else went into this.  Shallow DoF at f/5.6 because the room wasn't very large and I couldn't get too much distance between background and subject.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 265 - 100 Days to Go! Yay!

After much deliberation, I decided I needed the rest more than I needed shots of the sunset.  And I'm really happy I didn't go out to get them because what started off as a beautiful day ended in being overcast just around the time of sunset.  So, I secretly lauded myself for prioritizing on my rest.

I coaxed my son into sitting for me again this evening, because I wanted to try cross-lighting with my flashes.  I set up one flash at 45 deg behind the subject to camera left as the rim light, and used my diffuser on the other flash that I had on camera.

Most disappointingly, my on-camera flash gave out after I'd just taken the first 3 or 4 shots.  I am not sure whether it was the batteries that caused the problem, or if it was the flash itself.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it isn't my flash - I've been having trouble with the mechanics from day 1.  The locks on the shoe-mount are really hard to turn, and the flash just doesn't sit properly on my camera's shoe-mount either, giving me enough cause to freak out at every sudden movement of the camera.

This first image was done with the cross-lighting set up as I've mentioned earlier.  I had set it to 1/8 power and 85 mm zoom, to get a narrower beam of light.  My on-camera flash was set at 1/2 power, as this was my key light, and I had the diffuser on it as well.  Further, I bounced the flash off the ceiling.   I kept the shutter down to 1/60s to be able to get the ambient overhead light as well.  This created a hint of shoulder light on the left shoulder of the subject, but I would have like it to be more pronounced, so the separation would be clearer.

The image below was taken with only a single light set-up after one of my flashes malfunctioned.  I side-bounced the flash on the wall to the right of camera and used a white foam core board to the right of the subject (left of camera) as reflector to fill in the shadows a little bit.  It didn't do a fabulous job as the reflector was at least 6 ft away from the wall, but it was better than when I used no reflector at all.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 264 - Sunrise

I saw this spectacular sunrise from my kitchen window on Friday, when I was making my son's breakfast and lunch.  I knew I wouldn't get a good picture, because I would have to shoot through the wire mesh and through layers of spider webs right outside my window (yes, that's an embellishment that comes with living near the water!).

Anyhow, I thought the colours were too beautiful to pass up on, so I just got my camera and took 5 shots.  Needless to say, this was the best.

I sharpened the image a bit and added some clarity and saturated it a wee bit.   Again, I would rather not have posted this, but for the fear of losing another day.

Day 263 - Snapshot of earphones

I got this idea from the "speakers" and I thought it might be a fun idea to find some more speakers around the house (strictly of the non-human kind).  Therefore, this was another lazy-man's idea.  I put these earphones on a poster board, and then used bounced flash on it.  I finished it off in LR3.

Day 262 - Chicken Tikka Masala

I hadn't made much of an effort with photographing or posting in the past week as I was really busy prepping for yesterday's cooking class.  This weekend's menu was completely different from what I normally teach, therefore, it involved more planning and work than is normal.

This shot was done for a recipe and I had initially decided to not even post it, considering the poor planning and execution that went behind it.  I had to somehow take a snapshot of this dish, so I could just write my recipe down and have it done with.

Not posting would mean falling far back in my 365 project.  I'm actually looking at just finishing the challenge.  It would mean two things to me - freedom to post quality, over quantity, and also fulfilling my commitment I made to myself when I took up this challenge.

I will have more leisure this week as I won't have to prep for a cooking class this coming weekend.  I definitely hope to do a little more of serious photography and finish my Alphabet challenge as well - I'm stuck on "K"!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 261 - Speakers

I took this shot late last night.  I was totally exhausted to do anything this evening, so I will have to use this for today.  Well, I guess it's not really cheating since the Tandoori Chicken was the shot for yesterday, and this was an entirely different subject.

Again, the same disappointment over the shot.  Didn't turn out quite the way I wanted it to.