Monthly Archives: October 2013

Stairs and their attraction

Unlike many things photographed stairs have an attraction of their own, a sense of mystery or perhaps a purpose greater than their utilitarian function.  The sense of going somewhere, of climbing to a vantage point.  It is so often a set of stairs or ladders that feature in movies as a means of escape from being hunted, often a futile climb to a place that has no escape.   This is where I wish psychology was my area of expertise but its not so this is all just my observation and can be taken with a grain of salt.


Whichever way one looks at it stairs are inviting in photography.Hence the reason for this photograph.




Street shots at night

Doing street shots at night is just a bit more difficult.  The main problem is how to get enough light so that the shutter speed is not too slow.  One can bump up the ISO of course but then compensation is required  as one must increase the exposure, i.e. over expose so as to reduce the noise.  It is all a compromise.


I ventured out last night into the CBD of Melbourne and in particular Southbank as it is an area worth visiting at night.  I took about 30 shots, in the hour I spent there, most of which have motion blur of some sort.  Why, well because to keep the ISO at 2000 or less I opted to go with a shutter speed of 1/20, really not fast enough for a 50mm lens, should have been at least 1/50th.  However like all outings practising ones art every experience is a learning.


Out of all of the shot I found two that were moderately pleasing and where the motion blur was minimal and does not, in my opinion, detract from the scene.

Hope you like them_MG_2162.


Black and White

Yesterday I wrote about enhancing an image. Well another way of making an image different and perhaps more striking is to convert to black and white.

Now we all know that digital cameras don’t take black and white pictures.  They are set up to only create colour.  Mind you that really is a technical creation as the chips are monochrome and colour is created via RBG filters and mathematical algorithms to create the colours. Still the colour rendering is of a very high quality.


But I digress, back to the conversion.  In this case I simply took the lizard shot that I had enhanced yesterday and converted to black and white.  I like it because like human portraits the black and white takes away the distractions of colour and allows the soul to show.


Hope you like it.  For me it has a certain appeal without the distraction of colours, allowing the mind to linger more on the texture and character portrayed in the ehnhancement.


Enhancing an image

Most times I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and use what that produces,  mostly a minimally enhanced image.  However today I thought I should try playing around in Photoshop to seek what tweaking an image would do.

I had a photograph of a lizard taken over twelve months ago and decided that that would be a nice image to enhance.  Taken with a 100mm macro and careful and slow approach to the lizard so that it filled the frame as much as possible.


_MG_1833-o Firstly I wanted to remove any distractions so that just the lizard was present and then play around with emphasis of the lizard.  To achieve this I just used dodge and burn after applying a few grad density filters available in ACR.  Then it was use a brush with soft light and either black or white toning to paint out or emphasise the areas of interest.  Then it was use saturation and vibrance to pop the colours present in the lizards skin.


Here is the result.  Let me know what you think.  Personally I think I have pushed the colours too far.


Visiting Montslvatt in Eltham, Victoria

Last Monday I decided to visit Montslvatt, an artists community based in Eltham, Victoria.  I must say it is a very nice place for a photographer to visit.  The Great Hall has some lovely doors and rooms in which to practise the art of photography.  In addition there are a number of galleries to enjoy.  A place that I will revisit and I recommend to others that have not been there. The site is heritage listed and as such one must pay attention to looking after it as well as paying an entry fee.  Amateur photographers pay an additional $22AU for the pleasure of roaming around taking photos.


Below are three photos taken on the day, enjoy.

mont-3lr mont-2lr mont-lr

Averaging photos

What do you do if you don’t have a ND filter that is a Neutral Density filter to allow your camera to take long exposures in daylight and thereby blur water for those dreamy waterfall or seaside photographs.

Well one technique is to take a number of photographs from a tripod of the scene. It has to be on  a tripod so that each shot is the same except for the moving water.  The more shots the better, well up to a limit of say 30 and then blend them if Photoshop or Gimp.  Now the blending technique can be any way you want as long as the shots are all in layers.

As an example I took about 34 shots of this beach scene at a spacing of 15 seconds.  Now this spacing is too long as it produces posterisation in a clear sky or in this case bands in the clouds.  However despite the banding one can see that it is effective in producing a beach scene the same as a long exposure.

For the averaging one can blend normally and for each shot calculate according to this formula %blend = (1/number of shots +1)*100  It does work. For the shot below I just took 10% for each and then blended with soft light mode in photoshop.  Most ways of blending will end up near this, experiment and have fun.


Gold Coast at night

Most cities have a time of the day or an aspect where a photo is worth taking.  During our recent holiday on the Gold Coast I had seen a few daytime views across estuaries, along beaches and from the ocean.  However none of them really worked for me.


Therefore one evening I decided that I would drive to a nearby bridge that crossed the estuary and see what the view was like.  Now it was a bit later than I would have liked but when holidaying with the family one has to also accommodate three other people in ones actions.  Despite that I was able to find a nice view and the restaurant owner was very obliging in allowing me to set up my tripod on their deck over looking the water.  After a few shots I had what I wanted.


This is it, hope you like it.