I have been thinking over many moths about writing series about photography. There is always scarcity of time – but hopefully the extent of this information would be helpful to all photographers who want to get better in what they do and for others to just enjoy nice photos!
(I started to write a small book about photography, but the pages disappeared with the Surface re-flash, so don’t try to use pre-release software on your production environment… and unfortunately OneDrive did not reveal any hidden secrets in the recovery attempt either…)
It always starts with a challenge. At least in my case.
We challenged each other with my friend Moritz to go early morning downtown to make few photos and scout for the real photography trip. Scouting? Yes super important and vital for great shots. The probability of just going out and shooting and getting GREAT photos is quite low IMHO. I’ll talk more about scouting during the Sydney photo shoot adventure.
Seattle Ferris wheel – a “warm-up” photo of our shooting session.
We knew we want to go to waterfront, and then explore Pike Place Market. So we parked at the aquarium at 5:30am and started wondering around the Ferris wheel – and here is the first shot. Tripod is a key! (BTW recently discovered a fabulous tripod for a reasonable price).
I always want to fill the frame – so I really liked the chairs and the composition was made! Yeah the trash cans are never fun – sometime they can be moved a little Did 30 second exposure, stopped down to f/14 to get a little “star” effect from the lights (more about this in one of my next article about Prague Photography). The color photo was ok, but liked the sepia more and added vignetting – well not too bad for a warm-up photo at the end…
This photo can be shot with almost any camera but keep in mind – set the ISO as low as possible to get the least noise possible. Should you wish to get a noisy photo – it’s easier to add the noise later in post than remove it without loosing detail.
Seattle Ferris wheel and harbor before sunrise
Little later but still before sunrise I took another long exposure. This time the light was more intense and the colors started appearing. To get the smooth light reflection on the water – longer exposure is usually better – so used a natural density filter so I can expose for 30 seconds at f/8, ISO low as possible – in my case 200. (But why not 100 or even lower? It’s just the lowest setting my camera does as I’m using “highlight tone priority” to increase the dynamic range…)
OK – here is one thing that happens when using wide angle lenses (I used 24mm). When you pan up or down it will distort the perspective – so in this case if you pan up – the top part of the wheel will be “falling” back. This can be compensated in camera with special tilt and shift lenses or in post production. So choose whatever you like
While my long exposure was underway – I have “snapped” a reflection on the door right behind me. This is one reason I carry at least two cameras, in this case EOS M, with EF-M 22mm (relatively affordable camera). Yes this could be easily taken with an iPhone (if I had one ). Actually I did not snap it – I have carefully composed two photos and chosen this one.
Two challenges – 1) how to compose – I have aligned the door frame with the picture frame on the left, the other was aligned to the right, that also moved the Ferris wheel to the right – which by the books should be better, but the left of the frame was boringly dark and empty – so this one felt better. 2) White Balance. Since I shoot always in RAW I adjust the WB in post, especially for challenging light conditions like this. I have used a grey area in the glass to set the WB, not the door frame. And as such the door frame got little reddish tint, that I actually like.
Well maybe there is a third challenge – distortion – ideally the sensor in this case should be perpendicular with the door, so if you are holding the camera in the front of your face (standing or sitting), make sure it’s aligned. Well maybe I did snap this one at the end…
The next photo was taken from an overlook behind Pike Place Market. This would need rather long lens to get rid of the industrial foreground. I thought let’s try something different. The ND filter went back on and did few second exposure that blurred the headlights of cars on Alaskan viaduct. The trouble was it was Saturday and not too many cars were coming, so I had to be a little patient. Work days could be better.
Next we tried to get a subject that everybody has in a slightly different way. When we drove through, I actually spotted this reflection and went back to get it. I used tilt and shift lens to blur the rest of the rest of the frame, but similar effect could be done in post. The person on the left is my friend Moritz. I took a sequence with him and without, I liked this one, as the other was too empty.
Don’t shy to try to experiment in post. I took the following one thinking it will be deleted. Converted to B&W and cropped. I did not try to change any parts, just few clicks – B&W, Crop, Done. The photo was taken with tilt and shift lens, so the selective focus was done in camera (lens). Considered two crops – one square and this one. I like this one more as you can feel the cube pavement.
Finally after consuming super sweet croissant and waiting 20 minutes for the espresso in La Panier, we went to where every photographer goes to. Kerry Park.
Seattle from Kerry park
Used tilt and shift lens and snapped the following photo. I liked the morning sun and the slight appearance of Mt. Rainier.
Few years earlier with my friend Rush we arrived around 4am and waited and hoped. This is one of the photos where Westin served as a great mirror of rising sun. And yes I used long lens for this…
After Kerry park we called it done. Well the lovely Nokia navigation routed an absolute unbelievable route to go home, Moritz laughed and pulled out his iPhone and me as a back-up ooold TomTom. Was really fun ride. If anyone from @Nokia read this – go to Kerry park and route a trip to Redmond. You had no clue such streets existed in Seattle…
Upcoming photo blog themes (subject to change )
- Nature photography with Andres (Mt. Rainier)
- Charles Bridge and other locations in Prague
- Time-lapse with patience
- Event photography dos and don’ts
- General city photography (Sydney, Paris, Oslo, Helsinki and more)
- Sports. Immersive photos and videos.
- Great and greater sunsets
- Dynamic Landscapes
- Macro world enlarged
- Common myths and misconceptions about equipment
Feel free to leave a comment with a priority preference!