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photography

New lens play

Since I got my camera out and dusted it off a few weeks ago, I’ve been more motivated to take photos and try new things.

I’ve been saving up for about three years now to get a macro lens for my DSLR and I finally amassed enough to get my lens! As soon as it came in the mail, I popped it on my camera and tried it out. Then I googled “how to use a macro lens” and read about a dozen articles. Then I read the teeny tiny instruction book that came with the lens. I probably did all of that in the wrong order, but I managed to get some cool photos!

I decided to start with my fish tank, because there are a lot of neat things in there. A tiny snail, a fish, and a lobster! I caught sight of our snail, Mr. Snarfles, sliding around on the glass, and started shooting.

Click a photo to enter the gallery. Hit Escape to exit!

Back on the tripod

One evening I was sitting on the balcony, enjoying the cool view from our building – and a chord was struck inside me. I grabbed my tripod (which has not been touched since being unpacked from the move) and camera (which has only been touched to retrieve the memory card from – for something else), and set myself up on the balcony for some practice with my photography skills.

The sun was setting, so my instinct was to grab an HDR of the sunset. Why? Because it’s a technique I know how to do – it’s safe.

Boring HDR sunset
Boring, safe HDR sunset

It was ok, but boring. I needed a challenge. With my tripod set up, I thought about playing with my aperture and shutter speed settings. I set out to achieve two goals:

  1. Get a photo of a light with star streaks – small aperture, long shutter speed
  2. Test shutter speeds to get streaking headlights and brake lights of cars on the highway

I started mucking around with my shutter speed and aperture – starting with the aperture being somewhere in the middle and the shutter speed being relatively fast, and changed them one by one to get the desired effect. Once the sun set, it was much easier to get results, because the light wasn’t constantly changing. I managed to get a few neat photos of streaking lights, and then lo and behold! I captured a few lamp posts with star streaks around them (check out how many I got in this pic below!). I was excited!

Long shutter speed cars with sunset
Long shutter speed cars with sunset

As I looked through my captures, I noticed I had also caught something else moving through my long shutter speed photos – a plane! After that, I set out to capture the flights taking off from the airport – long exposure. I ended up with some neat shots, but I still need to work on playing with my ISO settings and my aperture to get the best results. Here are the fruits of my discovery! [Click on a photo to enter the slide show, hit ESC to exit!]

Chopped – Home Edition (Part 1)

My girlfriend introduced me to a great show featured on Food Network, which quickly became a favourite channel of mine. If you haven’t seen it, the show is called Chopped and they start with four chefs, give them each a basket of four or five random ingredients, and set them off to cook an appetizer under a time limit. All of the basket ingredients must be used, and the finished dishes are judged by a panel of food experts. The weakest dish is “Chopped” along with the chef who created it, and the remaining three are given a new basket of items with which to cook a main entree! The battle ensues until only two chefs are left to battle over dessert. It’s a neat show, because you get to see how they creatively incorporate ingredients like miso into dessert, how they cook a whole rabbit for an entree in under 30 minutes, and other fantastical food challenges.

The aforementioned wonderful girlfriend came up with an AMAZING idea, “Why don’t we do Chopped at home?” she proposed to me one lazy evening as we watched old episodes of Chopped together. “Let’s get random ingredients for each other and each cook something!” We discussed the details of this absolutely awesome idea, and settled on the rules. We would randomly choose who was doing appetizer, main, or dessert. For this, we needed a third – so it only made sense to rope in her twin (who also dearly loves the Food Network awesomeness) to join us in our food adventure!

It was decided that my girlfriend would do the appetizer, I would do the main dish, and the twin would follow up with dessert! I ended up buying ingredients for my girlfriend, the twin bought ingredients for me, and my girlfriend bought ingredients for her twin! We assembled in the kitchen for an adventure in cooking!

Today, I present to you the appetizer round in photographs! This is my superbly awesome girlfriend creating an appetizer from some admittedly evil ingredients that I purchased for her. Enjoy!

Chef ready to cook
The chef is ready to unveil her ingredients and cook a succulent appetizer!
Ingredients: Koala Crisp (organic, sweetened, with cocoa), garlic stuffed olives, whole Chilean Sea Bass!
The ingredients: Koala Crisp (organic, sweetened, with cocoa), garlic stuffed olives, whole Chilean Sea Bass (with the head and eyes!!!!)
Chef tenatively cutting the head off her fish!
Chef tenatively cutting the head off her fish!
The deed is done - now on to cooking!
The deed is done – now on to cooking!
The fish is cubed, placed in a bowl, and spiced. What will it become?
The fish is cubed, placed in a bowl, and spiced. What will it become?
Chopping the garlic-stuffed olives
Chopping the garlic-stuffed olives
The gluten-free Koala Crisp proves difficult to crush! A crust or breading perhaps?
The gluten-free Koala Crisp proves difficult to crush! A crust or breading perhaps?
The ingredients have been combined, and the chef is now cannelling the mixture
The ingredients have been combined, and the chef is now cannelling the mixture, then placing them into hot oil.
The fried mixture - it looks delicious!
The fried mixture – it looks delicious!
The chef begins assembling the plates, laying down a bed of lettuce and a spiced sour cream sauce for dipping
The chef begins assembling the plates, laying down a bed of lettuce and a spiced sour cream sauce for dipping.
Putting the final touches on plating, the chef is feeling confident in her dish. It looks good!
Putting the final touches on plating, the chef is feeling confident in her dish. It looks good!
Finished "fish nuggets" on the plate. They were amazing!
Finished “fish nuggets” on the plate. They were amazing!

Stay tuned for the next installment – the entree!

My First Bokeh and more!

I’ve finally been getting my camera out a little more and practicing with it. The tripod I have is invaluable!!! I’m so glad I have one! I couldn’t imagine taking some of the photos I get without it. Here is the latest batch of HDR photos!

Shining sun
Snapped this awesome pic of a beautiful blue sky and shining, hot summer sun… I’m getting a tan just looking at it!
My first Bokeh
My first Bokeh – OK, so it is kind of mild, but I was so excited to catch any kind of bokeh at all!!! SO EXCITING!!!
balcony lantern
Grabbed a really great HDR snapshot of one of the lanterns on the balcony! I love the huge depth of field here! Blurry background and detailed lantern!
Angles from the balcony
Managed to snap this photo from the balcony. I just liked how it worked out with all the great lines and colours in the photo! HDR rules!

HDR Self

A portrait is meant to show our best side. We take photos at parties, weddings, birthdays, and other happy occasions. We choose the best ones and upload them to our facebook or to email to friends. We wear makeup, flattering clothes, do our hair, and strategically cover parts of us that we aren’t exactly happy with. Sometimes, we blur visual details in our own mind – not really even looking closely at the people around us. Once in a while, we realize we haven’t really seen the people we know and love in great detail – because we don’t actually look!

I’ve been experimenting with HDR photos (High Dynamic Range) that allow you to bring out vivid details in photographs. I did a post a while back featuring some images I took and converted to HDR. It occurred to me that the last thing most people would want to do would be to combine the detail of HDR with a self portrait and show all those details we so carefully cover up – so I dove in! I took several self-portraits of my face, hands, feet, and other parts – parts that some people might think are ugly. I brought out all the details as best as I could, to showcase the other side of self portraits. Below, I highlight my wrinkles, my pores, my blemishes, my chubby parts, my moles, my feet, my dirty fingernails…

HDR hand photo
A photo of my hand – wrinkles, hangnails, dirty fingernails, and all. I love details!!!

Continue reading “HDR Self”

I’ve been moving. I’ve been dawdling. I’ve been daydreaming. Finally, something new!

Where I used to live…

Pills

Dragonfly on my door frame
Just hanging out on the balcony and saw a dragonfly on my door frame.
Saturday morning lilacs
Saturday morning lilacs in the sun
toilet paper in the wind
Oh the poetic things you see… toilet paper dancing in the wind.

Trying out the HDR stuffs on my picture-taking machine

I did it! Last week, I secured a tripod for my picture-taking machine and I felt motivated to try out the HDR technique. Quickly: HDR is High Dynamic Range. Basically, you take multiple photos at different exposures (lighter and darker), and then merge them in photo editing software to obtain a larger range of detail in one photo! Here is a cool example of how much more detail you can get in a photo using the HDR technique.

This is my first stab at taking and editing some HDR photos. They are slightly sucky, because they were taken on a very overcast day, but it’s kinda neat, nonetheless!

Original
HDR – check out the super crisp lines and vibrancy of the light!
Original
HDR – so much more detail in the clouds and the grass!
Original
HDR – beautiful and bright!
Original
HDR – maybe a little over saturated, but i like the overall feel. There’s some graffiti up top that you can’t see in the original!

Obviously I have to play with the settings (there are so many!) to get different effects. It’s definitely interesting to see how much more detail, light, darkness, and colour vibrance is available to cram into one photo!

Strange weather

The last time I really picked up my camera was about a month ago when we had this amazing storm. I was at my good friend Sandra’s place hanging out on the balcony, and caught some neat shots of the world below me, as well as snagging one good shot of a lightning strike. I only got one, even though I was standing there with the camera on BURST, and took about 800 identical photos of the sky with NO lightning… only to see lightning strike when the BURST was finished! Anywho, these are the fruits of my labour.

Messy balcony
Using my telephoto lens to spy on the balconies across the street. People store a lot of junk out there!!
Blue skies
Snapping photos of the clouds and the blue sky south of the storm
Strange lighting
The sky starts to get darker, but with the storm rolling in, it takes on a strange dark blue hue that is oddly bright
traffic moving
I was playing with shutter speed and managed to catch some traffic moving along the street.
strange rain
I accidentally caught this strange rainy picture.
The piece de resistance! Lightning!
After waiting and waiting, and taking many photos, I finally managed to capture this lightning strike. You can see how FAST the lightning is, because the rest of the foreground is in motion due to camera movement, but the lighting was SO FAST that the camera movement did not affect the capture!

The shootout!

In a recent blog post, I noted that I was getting a new camera. Initially, I had thought about buying a Canon EOS family camera. I spent over 2 hours in Henry’s talking to a professional photographer and ended up getting the Samsung NX-11! It’s a mirrorless DSLR with all the functionality of a Canon or other top brand, but with a much sharper in-box lens! This allowed me to also add a telephoto lens to the package, and also lens covers, a memory card, a case, and extended warranty all for the SAME PRICE. I learned a lot about cameras in that 2 hours!

I’ve always wanted to personally test the quality difference between a point-and-shoot and an SLR camera, and now is my chance! I organized a shoot-out between my old camera, and the new one. The cool thing is that they are BOTH 14 megapixel cameras, so the comparison of lenses is quite fair!

Basically, I just set both cameras to auto, and set about taking photos of the same subject matter. Here are the results, side-by-side of the shoot out. It’s no surprise that the SLR won, but I was really surprised at the vast difference in quality. Not to mention that I’ve only experienced the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the Samsung NX is capable of with a little practice and learning!

Point and shoot Canon on the Left/Top. Samsung NX-11 SLR on the Right/Bottom. It’s not difficult to make a decision as to which camera I’d use for more professional looking shots, but my little point-and-shoot guy does a pretty good job 🙂

point and shoot/DSLR comparison
My first subject: Levi! You can see the difference right away. Aside from the fact that the SLR's exposure is a little low, you can see a difference right away. The depth of field is much larger in the SLR photo!
point and shoot/SLR comparison
Photo of a stained glass window - I wanted to compare how the light looked with the different cameras. The depth of field is larger in the SLR, but the point-and-shoot provides a sharper image (in general)
point-and-shoot/SLR comparison
Flowers outside work. The amount of detail captured by the SLR lens is astounding.. Not to mention the colours are more vibrant.
point-and-shoot/SLR comparison
Cool ple of rocks. Again, there's a heck of a lot more detail from the DSLR lens, as well as a larger depth of field. It seems like the point-and-shoot photos are a bit washed out in general.
point-and-shoot/SLR comparison
Photo of a sign and some weeds in a field. I wanted to test a landscape image with a large focal range. Again, colours are more vibrant, there is more detail, and larger depth of field in the SLR photo. Again, the point-and-shoot seems overexposed or washed out.
point-and-shoot/SLR comparison
Last but not least, a macro photo of some beads of water on grass. Not surprisingly, the SLR image is more vibrant and detailed.

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