Kicking off a new series on Black & White (B&W) photography. More accurately, these will be monochromatic renderings of digital photography files. When and how do we decide whether a photograph will look better in B&W? Is it possible to imagine a B&W composition before pressing the shutter? There are a milliard ways to render a color file into a monochromatic image. Contrast, balance, structure, grain texture. Darker reds? Lighter greens? Sepia for a vintage effect? In these series, we will use Canon files rendered in Lightroom. In most cases, the (now free) Silver Efex Pro 2 plugin from the Nik collection was applied. Part I of the B&W series is about People.
Last installment of the series on Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) lenses, dedicated to panoramic compositions, perhaps one of the most common uses of UWA lenses. As in the previous examples, “filling the frame” with foreground, middle ground and background elements remains one key aspect of a successful composition. The images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm UWA lens on EOS 40D and EOS 7D cameras and the EF-16-35mm on the EOS 5DIII camera.
Ultra Wide Angle lenses are not for portraiture. But they can deliver excellent images documenting people and wildlife in their environment. Here a few examples using Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm, EF 24mm L f/1.4 and EF 16-35mm L f/2.8 II UWA lenses.
Part III of the UWA series. Here dedicated to the effect of strong lines in the composition. The examples below have all in common the presence of strong lines guiding the eye towards a point of interest. Sometimes they are just crossing through, inviting the viewer to step inside. The images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm and EF 24mm L f/1.4 UWA lenses on EOS 40D, EOS 7D and EOS 5DMarkIII cameras.
Part II of the series on Ultra Wide Angle lenses. UWA lenses will allow for lots of things to find room in the composition. The challenge then becomes to fill the frame with interesting things. To attempt the capture a vast expanse of sand, sea and sky in an open beach is one of the most common misuses of UWAs. The result will be huge white and blue surfaces with no detail and nothing for the eye to latch onto, and with all likelihood make a dull composition. A strong UWA composition of a landscape requires striking objects in the foreground, an interesting middle ground and drama in the background (e.g. interesting skies or clouds). But there are no rules in creative photography, and breaking the accepted rules can sometimes yield an even more striking effect. All images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S10-22mm UWA lens on a EOS 7D camera. These examples illustrate how a UWA composition can be strengthened from an interplay between foreground, middleground and background elements.
Kicking off a new series on Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) photography. For this series, we will consider as UWA anything from 10mm to 24mm. UWA photography is wonderful but can be challenging. Exaggerated perspective, distorted edges and weird relationships between foreground and background objects are some of the features that can play for or against the composition. UWA lenses will exaggerate the depth of field, making background objects appear further from foreground ones than they actually are. That’s why UWAs don’t make good portrait lenses, as they exaggerate noses and foreheads. On the other hand, they are ideal to picture people in their environment. UWA lenses add drama to the images and can tell stories more forcefully due to their exaggeration of perspective. The images below were taken with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm UWA lens on EOS 40D and EOS 7D cameras. These examples illustrate the use of UWA to emphasise perspective in a composition.
his last installment of the photo series on Tasmania is about its dramatic coastline. Here are some images taken in Tasman Peninsula, with spectacular views across to Cape Pillar, Cape Raoul, a late night shot of the famous Remarkable Cave and a view of Crescent Bay and its beautiful beach from above Mt. Brown.
The first two shots used a Galen Rowell’s Graduated Neutral Density Filter (3 stops, soft edge) from Singh Ray to tame sky highlights and balance the foreground. The Remarkable Cave shot was taken late at dusk and needed a 6 sec exposure on a tripod to get enough light and, at the same time, soften the texture of the waters coming into the cave.
Tasmania is truly a photography paradise. The Mount Field National Park offers endless opportunities with amazing greenery and breathtaking waterfalls. Here a few examples, starting with the iconic Russell Falls.
An exposure of 0.5 to 1.0 seconds, like those shown here, makes the falling water silky smooth, strengthening the sense of movement. In plain daylight, however, such exposures would clearly result in a totally blown-out image. A neutral density (ND) filter can be used to diminish the light getting into the camera and so allow longer exposures in bright natural light. The Vari-N-Duo from Singh-Ray combines a neutral density filter adjustable from 2 to 8 f/ stops and a warming/polarizer in a compact and convenient design. The desired amount of density can be dialed to achieve a proper exposure. The combined warming/polarizer reduces glare from sky, water, wet rocks, and other reflective surfaces and enhances color saturation for added drama. Polarization can be easily controlled by rotating the ring just behind the min/max ND ring. A sturdy tripod is a must, obviously.
Mount Kinabalu lies in the Malaysian province of Sabah in the island of Borneo. At 4,095.2 meters over sea level, its summit on Low’s Peak is believed to be the highest peak in South East Asia.
It does not require specialized skills or equipment to climb Kinabalu, as I did on May 5 this year of 2011. A good physical condition and a bit of psychological preparation will do. A guide is assigned to the climber(s) when these enter the national park. This could be avoided, I gather. My guide, a young boy from the village, was pretty useless, primarily because of his limited (or non-existing) knowledge of English. He limited himself to walk a distance behind me texting with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. It is important to climb with a light luggage and there is fine balance between having the right amount of extra cloth and carrying a really heavy backpack. After gathering some information on the web I opted for a set up that proved very good. A light water-proofed jacket is a must. Mine was from Patagonia and could be squeezed down to almost nothing. I had with me a pair of convertible trousers, two t-shirts (one long-sleeved), long under trousers, two pairs of gloves (regular sturdy gloves and liner gloves), a cotton high-neck sweater, a skiing hat and good and sturdy hiking shoes with hiking socks. I started the climb on shorts and a t-shirt. I put on my jacket when a shower came. Also important to have is a head-lamp (you’ll really need it for the final climb!). I also packed with me 6 energy bars and a bunch of nut/fruit bars as well. A half-liter (at least) bottle for water is also necessary. It can be refilled along the way. All this, plus my gripped EOS7D with the EF-S 10-22mm wide angle zoom lens found room in the 200AW slingshot from Lowepro. The set up was perfect, as I later found out.
Scenes with very high dynamic range (containing very bright and very dark sections) are difficult to capture in a single shot without either blowing out the highlights or underexposing the shadows. Although common sensors in current DSLRs have 7 to 8 stops of dynamic range, many natural scenes would normally have a much greater dynamic range, too large to be captured accurately, even though they would look perfectly normal to our eyes. This is because each photoreceptor in the retina can adjust its gain independently (or almost independently) of each other, while an ISO setting in the camera applies equally to all pixels in the sensor. HDR imaging is a way to extend the dynamic range of a capture by taking sequential exposures of the same scene with bracketed settings. High-end DSLR cameras can do this automatically after dialing in the desired bracketing sequence and interval. Typically one shot is taken at the “correct” exposure indicated by the metring system, while additional shots are taken above (say +1, +2 or +3 EV) and below (say -1, -2 or -3 EV). The trick is to get all highlights and shadows correctly exposed in at least one of the exposures in the series. The images in the series are then combined to generate an HDR image using specialized software. Later editions of Adobe Photoshop can do this. Dedicated HDR software, such as Photomatix, is however easier to handle and yields very nice results.