Sunday, July 27, 2008

Getting Ready – My Vacation Camera Selection

Please note that there may not be any new posts until 7 September.

This weekend is the practice weekend. By practice I mean fine-tuning the selection of items I plan to bring on my month long stay in Denmark with a short excursion to Norway and Sweden.

In this article, as I don’t see much value with showing my equipment, I will include a few images from a shoot at Vincent Massey Park.

Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro mode, f3.5, iso 200 1/8000sec

This is another image of a flower I showed in the article Spring Time Tune-up I decided to make this Black and White version to better focus on the softness of the petals, almost like dancing flames in a fire. I reduced the contrast to try a keep soft and ethereal.

My normal planning mode is to bring everything possible that I might use and then hire an ocean liner just to bring along. Luckily, my many years of weeklong sea-kayaking has forced me to par down the kit, back to bare essentials and then dump half of that.

This vacation is mainly a family vacation visiting my newfound brothers and sisters and then just sitting on the porch or beach side and talking about lost times.

But, and a Big But I will have my camera permanently glued to my hand. I just don’t know any better. There will be moments where in the interest of everyone’s sanity that I will need to venture off, explore and photograph, just on my own.

Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro mode, f16, iso 200 1/600sec

This is the same flower as above but here I increased the DOF to include all petals and then increased both the colour saturation and the contrast to add more punch and vibrancy to the flower. It is amazing that with simple camera techniques and very minor editing you can create 2 very different images of the same subject.

There is one special day being set aside when my brother Jorgen, who is also an avid photographer, and I will photograph the unique qualities of Copenhagen. Starting in the early morning, we will be traveling by bus around town, getting off where we want, explore, photograph, eat, then moving on and doing it again at least the eating part. This should last well into the late evening and hopefully collect a great collection of images.

If this were a photography vacation I would bring more equipment, but with the mixture of family and photography I have pared my list to the following.

Main Items
Nikon D300 – with 2 battery packs and charger
If this were a photography excursion I would bring my Nikon D70 as a backup

Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 vr lens
This is a great vestal lens. While I love the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 vr, the weight is a bit of a problem when traveling light.

Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens
With the great high iso noise of the D300 and the fast glass of the 50mm, who needs flash or even any kind of light.

Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 lens
I just love the perspective this lens gives to cityscapes.

SB800 flash
A great powerful flash but the best part is the wireless capability with TTL.

Tripod - Gorilla Pod (largest)
I would love to bring a full size tripod but the only one I have is the steel Manfrotto, which is heavy when, added with a good ball head. The cost of those carbon fibers is still a bit much, but one day I will save up enough.

Backpack –Lowenpro
This pack has padded shoulder straps and a hip belt, which are a must if you plan to walk around a fair bit.

Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro mode, f13, iso 400, 1/50sec

Simple weeds when in bloom can provide inspiring flower images.

Miscellaneous items
Polarizer filter for 18-200mm lens
Battery charger and many batteries
Lens cleaning brush
16GB, 8GB cards
Flashtrax 40GB auto card reader and storage.
Nikon SC-28 Flash cable
D300 manual – because I am still learning about it.
Cannon A40 2mp P&S camera
Energy bars and medical kit
Just in case I am so engrossed that either I walk off a cliff while looking through the viewfinder or get lost in the woods.

I would like to post a few articles and that is why I am bringing the old digital camera, as it will at least be in jpeg mode. The Nikon will set RAW and I am not sure if I will have access to a RAW converter.

Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 vr, at 70mm,f7.1, iso 200, 1/80

One of the many paths in Vincent Masseey Park that runs along the Rideau River.

At first I was a little worried about not posting for several weeks, but then after giving it some though I realized it is really a non-issue. I don’t use this blog as a business or make money from it. It is in some ways like a gallery where I hang my images and through my words you may come to understand the artist a bit more. Like any gallery I do enjoy the visitors that drop in and I hope you will all return when I post again.

The first article will most likely be how well the selection of camera equipment worked on my vacation. What I used most, least and what I wish I had brought.

Thanks for your visit and see you in September.

Niels Henriksen

My Own Words

For photographers real beauty is when the ordinary, the every day, and sometimes the horror of life, is seen through the passion of our artistic work with the aid of a little box.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Silver Railings – a Photographic Study – Part II

It was a dark and stormy night… well not really, as I was fortunate that on one evening during the week I was able to get some evening captures of the metal railings series in the ‘Garden of Provinces’ Park in order to complete the study of light on metal railings during the early morning evening and at night lights.

Please take the time to look at the complete set, which comprises 20 images of the metal railings under different skys and viewpoints and a few other interesting areas of the park. Link provided below.

Silver Railing Study

I would be a pleasure to hear your views on how well this photographic series is able convey the different moods or unique perspectives by looking at just one type of object.

This is the first time I have ever undertaken a photographic study of metal objects under different lighting situations and in fact probably the first time I have ever done such a narrow focus on one theme.

It was good thing that I had driven by the park and observed the railing over many occasions as by the time I had finally decided to undertake this photographic series I was eager to start the project. This made me excited about exploring the railing structure for unique ways to frame them and also how I could use the reflected light to create contrast and form.

f7.1 1/200SEC –1.33EV, @105mm, Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 vr

There is something about the above image that makes this one of my favorites. Not really sure why, but the warm glow of the pot lights with the single railing picking up the up in the cool blue of the sky creates colour contrast and I guess that fact that one of the lights is out is what adds the special charm for me.

While the above image has warmth and softness, the blow image of a section of the railings is made extra hard and sharp in texture by the application of a strong S curve and then ensuring the highlights in the background are nearly blown-out.

f10.0, 1/200. –1.333ev, iso 200, @130mm, Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 vr

Some Thoughts on Taking Photos of Reflective Objects

Most metal at least if not all rusted is highly reflective. It is easy for the camera fooled by some of the over bright specular areas. If these parts are important tones in the image then it is prudent to reduce the exposure setting to ensure that no detail is lost.

For most of the direct sunlight images I applied exposure compensation in the range of -1.75 to -1.0ev.

With chrome I did not need a lot of subtle tones in both ends of the tonal spectrum and therefore except for a few there was not need for bracketing of images.

The Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 lens provided good coverage to be able to capture different fields of view for isolating compositional elements. The 70-200mm f2.8 was useful for limiting DOF for a few of the images.

A tripod is necessary even early in the morning as there was not enough light to hand hold, especially if I needed greater DOF.

f8.0, 4sec, -1 ev, iso200, @200mm, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 vr

The above image is actually 2 images combined to show both the reelection of the red and green traffic light. I did try to capture an image as the light changed, but it was hard to time right and the colours where more muted as they were on only for have the time. I did cool the tone a bit, as I wanted more blue than a green tone to contrast better with the red.

Visiting a site several times and at different lightening styles really helps to see different compositions that were not apparent during one of the light modes. That was probably the best benefit of going multiple times to the same location. Each time I found something new that I had not seen before, even if I had walked previously by it.

f20.0, 1/400sec, iso200, @70.0mm, Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 vr

I liked how the sun was just highlighting the left edges of these black painted posts, otherwise it would have been a continuous black mass. The shadows almost give them an appearance of marching along.

I had taken several shots of these benches in the early morning light. I preferred the image with the 2 benches as the image of the singular bench had more texture visible in the wood, but the composition seemed a little bland. I left the dark bottom corner in as I wanted to try and create 3 elements for the image and by being dark it also doesn’t take your view as much out of the scene.

f7.1, 1/200sec. –1.67ev, @130mm, Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 vr

In the last couple of months I haven’t taken as many images as I would have expected during this great time of the year. Deciding to undertake this project did help to get me out and photograph more, but most importantly while taking these images it also got me thinking about other projects that might be interesting.

Any sort of creativity, even viewing other’s work, helps to expand your own creative style and mental juices.

I have mentioned before the importance of finding a suitable project. I still encourage you to find something that you travel by almost every day catches your interest and that you could explore in the different moods of light

Niels Henriksen

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Silver Railings – a Photographic Study – Part 1

Morning, Evening and Night

Well, so far I have captured 2 of the 3 above lighting conditions, as weather is the true variable in outdoor illuminations.

This year I am fortunate as I am a passenger while going to work and with that pleasure I am able to gaze at the surroundings. This was not the case when I was the driver. You would try and look but only for brief seconds and never enough to fully take in the beauty around you.

Leaving the western parkway that runs along the Ottawa River and heading into the final stretch of the downtown core, there are these silver railings, really just stainless steel, that provides wheelchair access to the 'Garden of the Provinces' Park across from the National Library and Archives of Canada. These railings zigzag back and forth as they rise up to the next platform.

While driving by around 6:30 in the morning, the tall buildings on the east block the sun and I noticed that these railings have a radiant sheen as they were being lit by the lightening sky.

The railing as seen driving by in the morning

f5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO 200; Sigma 10-20mm @15mm

Below is a Google Earth map of the location

Image size 1690 x 1080

I thought it would be interesting and somewhat challenging to capture a series of studies of the metal railings in 3 different kinds of light. Metal, except for shape, does not have much texture in itself but reflects the light and texture surrounding it.

The Study:

• Early morning, with only the uniform sky to illuminate the metal;

• Early evening, when the sun, coming from a NW direction, is not obstructed and could directly strike the metal railings; and

• Late night, when the street and building lights could add its own charm to the metal.

f16, 1/25sec, ISO200, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR @ 78mm

This is the first set of metal railings looking back onto Wellington Street taken during early morning.

This image is almost totally an abstract with the trapezoidal squares forming through the grids of the metal railings and then also being mirrored by the same pattern in the stonework. The partial silhouette of the biker and walker on the darkened roadway take this image into another depth of interest.

Since I have not completed the study, I am only showing a few other images within the park and once finalized, I will post the sets that I hope will capture a unique way of looking at these railings.

I’ve not explored this park before even though I’ve lived here for more than 20 years. I was surprised at the hidden gems in this small concrete park.

f14.0, 1/10sec, ISO200, , Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR @ 125mm

There is a small pond that on one side has these 3 water spigots poring water in the central basin.

Within the basin is a 30-foot metal sculpture comprised of leaves that catch the cascading water as it flows from the top.

30 sec exposure, f8, ISO 200, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR @ 130mm

Further back in the park surrounded by towering trees is another fountain, which also cascades water, but with this fountain, the structure is made-up of large concrete basins.

2 exposures combined (f9 at 0.8 sec; and 1/40 sec @ISO200) Nikon 18-200mm f3.5 @ 105mm

With luck I should be able to get a good cloudless evening shoot to complete the series and then I would be able to show you my final selection in the form of a project. One idea is to make a 4 or 6 pix image within a frame from the series. It will depend on how well the different angles and lights combine to create a unique perspective of this study.

Metal is not an easy object to photograph and really requires controlled lighting to bring out its best. I hope that I can, with the different sun angle lighting, capture enough variants to make a series. So far, there are a few images I like which may develop into a good series. As yet, I have not decided to use a flash to create additional highlights but maybe I will explore this also.

It was good to get out and take some images, as this had not happened much since I acquired the new Nikon D300. The main reason for this is that I have been busy trying to set up a new Wordpress site and in the process, because I am a constant tweaker, I have been trying to learn XHTML, PHP, CSS style sheets and by default Wordpress template functions. At least I have learned enough to throw acronyms around like pebbles.

I thought camera manuals were hard to understand, but programming languages and its different constructs for each language sure does test my ability to learn.

The basic theme was easy to adjust but I want to create some static pages to combine other photo sites into one solution.

Niels Henriksen

A Photographer’s Adage

Impressionism has induced the study of what we see and shown us that we all see differently; it has done good to photography by showing that we should represent what we see and not what the lens sees . . . What do we see when we go to Nature? We see exactly what we are trained to see, and, if we are lucky, perhaps a little more but not much . . . We see what we are prepared to see and on that I base a theory that we should be very careful what we learn. - Henry Peach Robinson

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Wedding Day

A few weeks ago I attended a friends wedding as a guest. As I normally do, and with their understanding, I always bring my camera along in the hope that I may be able to capture a few unique shots that will add to their memories.

I was not the official photographer and as I have mentioned before, this is not a job that I am willing to undertake. Not being the photographer allows some freedom to get different images and since the camera is with me at all times, to get images long into the night.

The downside is that I don’t have any control for setting up those studio type shots or my camera position if I am near these events.

One of the main objectives is to capture the bride and groom and their guests interacting with each other and just having fun.

The groom on the left is reacting to a comment made by one of the best men.

This was an outdoors wedding with a sunny cloudless sky, about mid-afternoon. Being a guest meant that I could only shoot from the edges with a zoom lens (300mm), therefore the ability to use fill flash to reduce some of the dark shadows is not possible.

The bridesmaids waiting for the main star, the bride, to arrive.

Luckily, I am able to take images in RAW because, even with a great camera, as the Nikon D300, the tonal range from the black hair to the backlit white hair is difficult to capture. I was able to recover the detail in the flowers and white hair.

She finally arrives and starts her walk down the green carpet.

She has met up with her father and is preparing for the walk down the isle to the altar.

Outdoor sunlight is not what I would call the best glamour lighting, but if you are able to move about and take several shots, you can find pleasing angles where some of the harshness is reduced.

The loving look that bind each other.

With a digital camera and a good size memory card (16GB in my case) good candid shots will turn up. There were several shots taken at this location and this is the one I prefer because the priest is looking down so the main focus is on the bride and groom looking into each other’s eyes.

I love this moment because of the tenderness of the groom lifting the veil getting ready for the traditional ‘Kiss”. There is a bit of humor captured in the moment as the bride grins when the groom struggles a bit with the lifting of the veil.

The Kiss

Of the images taken of the kiss, I prefer this the most as during their embrace they where able to block the priest fully. Also, their arms are fully locked around each other as they share a moment of intimacy. When shooting moments like this, firing the shutter release rapidly allows you to find some images where all the visual elements work and there are no distracting protrusions. These were taken at the back isle of the seating, so there was not much room to move about for a different angle.

They are now married

As they left the altar and did their walk down the grassy area, I ran up the field and positioned myself so that the sun would be at their back. This allowed me to have some images without the dark shadows and sunlit areas on their faces and create more softness.

The Evening Party

The guests have all witnessed the commitment and love between the bride and groom. The bridesmaid and best men have all performed their important duties and now evening has arrived and it is a time to celebrate the wedding with food, dance and song.

The happy couple enjoying some humorous toasting and stories from their best fiends.

To listen to the stories told, well these are not for public consumption, but for laughter and to better understand the couple.

The evening photography is also a time for me to experiment a little. In the image below, the couple’s first dance, I wanted to get low to slightly distort the perspective to give the bride’s dress and feet more prominence.

Experimenting with Flash

With higher end cameras and flash units, you are able to remotely trigger the flash. For several shots I set the flash on the ground and walked around outside the tent to capture different lighting moments.

It does produce a strange lighting effect but since these included many people enjoying themselves I have not included any here. They are just for the family to enjoy.
I did notice that the flash produced a large dark circle on the ground around the flash due to the flash sticking up slightly in its normally angled position.

For some its been a long day.

Niels Henriksen


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