Street Photography portraiture at the Sunday Market

Summertime Blues and other colours

A lot of people look forward to the summer time for various reasons, such as having some time off from work and being able to enjoy better weather. The better weather and the longer days meaning that it is possible to go out and do more things than you are able to do during the wintertime. In some ways, it is the other way round for me during the summertime because I work during the summer in a camping site and I won’t get any time off until October. Working six days a week it becomes quite difficult to find the time and the energy to go out and shoot some photos with my Sony NEX-6 camera. I often find that at the end of a shift of working I’m quite tired or very hungry and all I want to do is to get home and to scratch whichever itch needs scratching. Quite often it will be a case of getting some food and then some snoozing time on the sofa! Last Sunday though, was a good day because I went out to the market and I hung around with my camera amongst all of the people and the fruit and vegetables.

My photographic plan for the market

I had to make a choice between the wide-angle 16mm lens and my 55 to 210 mm zoom lens. With the wide-angle lens I’m able to take pictures of people close up and sometimes they don’t know that I am taking the picture because it is such a wide angle being captured. On the other hand, I can use my zoom lens in a situation like at the market and not necessarily be noticed because people are busy looking at the goods and other people around the market. For this particular trip to the market I decided to go with the long lens and my aim was to do close-up portrait street photography with getting in as close as possible to faces. It turned out to be a particular good choice and the only problem I had was a Moroccan market trader waving at me because he didn’t seem to like having his photo taken. I waved back to him and I moved to somewhere else. I spent a couple of hours, maybe less, taking photos and I was quite pleased with the results when I got back home and put them into Aperture on the iMac. I also did take a few photos of the produce available on sale by themselves as well as the colourful fruits and vegetables being included in my street portraits. See more Spondicious photos on Flickr.

Sitting at the water fountain in the St. Feliu de Guixols marketplace

I bumped up the ISO on the NEX-6 camera even though it was quite sunny because some of the shots that I took, the subjects were in the shade provided by the stalls of the market. This also allowed me to get a fairly high shutter speed while I was shooting in aperture priority mode. There was a guy sitting on a stool in amongst the fruit boxes and the crates and he was just looking around, not working terribly hard. Maybe he had done as much selling for the day as he wanted to. He was just lazily looking around at people in the market and was a perfect subject for some street portraiture. At first I did have the camera set to take multiple shots on pressing the button and this can be quite useful when people are moving, but I found that I didn’t really need it so I turned that feature off.

Although it is possible to stay in one place and wait for the people to go past, which is good if you have a particularly good background to work with, I do like to have a wander around and to find new positions. When I do this I end up with a more varied set photos than if I was to stay in one place. What I was looking for was to find expressive faces that were going to give me an interesting story to tell with the photo. These sorts of expressions tend to occur more when there are two or more people together taking part in a conversation. I saw that there were two old guys having a chat animatedly using their hands as part of the conversation and I was very pleased with the photos I got of these fellas.

Old fella in Market

What! Very little or no postprocessing?

My photos were getting uploaded to Google automatically and I found that a number of the photos were good enough that I didn’t need to crop them or to fiddle with them in any way. All I did was to add a few words to the picture and posted them to various places in Google+. Street Hunters Community is a good place to send some Street photos. Usually I like to do some postprocessing in order to give the photos more umph and power. With a good number of these photos taken in the market I didn’t feel the need to work on them further in Intensify Pro or even use some of the tools available within the editing facilities in Google+. I did crop a couple of the photos where there was a person or even just somebody’s elbow poking into the shot in order to tidy things up slightly.

Fish seller in market

Moon shots in Intensify Pro and Pixelmator

Shooting for the moon

As I was coming back from my walk with the dog I noticed that the moon was looking quite large on the horizon. If you want to get a good picture of the moon with it as big as possible this is the best time to take your moon photo. So I ran inside the house and went to the upstairs terrace and shot some handheld photos of the moon. I didn’t have time to go and find the tripod, but what I did do was to steady the shots by holding the camera next to something solid. Also during the process there was a point where I could put the camera steady on the wall and that kept it good enough for a slightly longer shutter speed setting. I got a number of shots so that I could get the exposure correct for the moon and it could have been a good idea for me to shoot it as a HDR with the three exposures each of them 2 stops apart. What I did instead was to alter the exposure settings manually setting it at -3EV stops. This was the one that gave me the best image for the moon although the background was completely dark. As I was working with a camera RAW image I was able to pull back some detail from the shadow area.

Getting the moon photo to work

First of all I used the application Intensify Pro and although the application is helpful, it wasn’t so good for doing some masking on just the moon. Even though I set the edge of the brush for the masking as a hard edge it wasn’t working quite quite as I thought it should. So it was time for me to get into the bitmap editing application for the Mac called Pixelmator. This is a really good application which I should use more for all sorts of reasons. There are a huge number of tools for making adjustments to photos and plenty of tools which are good when you want to make some digital art. It doesn’t have some of the very specialised photo editing tools that you get in Intensify Pro, although it does offer more of a creative process for editing any sort of bitmap, digital art.

Aperture

Using Pixelmator for photo editing

What I needed to do was to isolate the moon so that I could get the exposure setting correct and to get the contrast as required. This is easily done in Pixelmator by using the magic wand type selector. All you have to do is to click and drag until you have all of the area you want selected. With a light object on a dark background this is very easy to do. Once I had the moon just the way that I wanted it, I was able to invert the selection and then to start work on the background with the controls for the levels. I was able to get this so that the outline of the trees showed up really well.

The next problem that I wanted to sort out was that the colour was not really as I wanted it to be. I needed to get more of a blue sort of background and within Pixelmator there is a tool which allows me to alter the colour as I see fit. You can easily put in the hue and then decide how dark or light you want the colour to be.

Copying and pasting

I think it is in a Star Wars movie where there is a planet that has two moons. I can’t remember what that planet is called, but it came to mind as I was editing this photo. I thought it would be interesting and a little bit of fun just to add an extra moon to my photo so that there were two. All I had to do was to use a copy of my selection of the moon and to paste back in on a new layer. Just so that it looked a little bit different I made it a bit smaller and added some colour to it. Just a bit of fun with Pixelmator and I ended up with a photo that was edging more towards digital art.

Poppies and Mechanicals

One photo on top of another.

It can be quite fun and handy to use one photo on top of another using layers in Pixelmator. You can take a photo that will give you a textural effect as I did in this photo. I wanted to make it so that I had a grungy sort of texture on top of a floral photo. There is nothing wrong with pictures of flowers, but sometimes I think that there are just too many of them and I would rather do something a little bit more interesting. The thing to do is to alter the opacity of the top layer and also to change the blend mode and with some experimentation you can come up with some interesting and exciting effects.

David Allen Wizardgold

Capturing the Kiss on the Beach

The Kiss

While I was taking my break at work yesterday I sat on a park bench near to the beach so that I could take pictures of people as they went past. I had my Sony NEX-6 camera with me and expecting to get better photographs than I had done with the Samsung Galaxy S3 camera phone on the day previous. I only had the kit lens with me on my Sony which goes from 18 mm to 50 mm and so I could have been sitting a little closer to my subject matter. Unfortunately, I was unable to move the park bench. Anyway I did have a little bit of zooming available with the lens and I had and I said it to the longer part of the zoom available. I still ended up with a lot of foreground in pictures as you will see I didn’t with a lot of foreground and the picture.

Going for the prime

If I hadn’t been having a good break from work or perhaps will be more inclined to get up onto my feet and to change the point of view and composition that way. Or maybe would have been better for me to be using the new adapter I have with the Canon mount super zoom lens that I bought last year. The new adapter that I have does give me control over the aperture which is good and it does also do the autofocus. The problem is that the autofocus is dreadfully slow and it is unusable for quick capture, people moving type of scenes.

I do have the 16mm prime lens which is very good for street photography and I like using. It wasn’t going to be suitable for the photography is going to be able to do on this day. As we all know it is the glass that is important with your photography equipment and so I will keep on the lookout for good quality lenses that I can add to my camera bag. I can see that I will be staying with Sony for some time so spending some money on lenses is not really a problem. The only thing is that if I move to a full frame camera like the Sony a 7, that uses different lenses although it is possible to use the SEL lenses on it.

Here is the image before I did anything with it.

Kissing One 00283

Here are a couple of versions of the image at I make some adjustments. I applied some filters using Intensify Pro and then I did some cropping in Aperture on my Mac. I had rather a lot of sand in the foreground which was uninteresting so that had to be cropped out and in the end it gave me a photo that was almost a panorama view of the scene.

Changing the emphasis and the story

In this version of the image I follow the suggestions of my wife to crop in much closer and we found that it gave us a different story. The couple are still kissing in front of the beach and a blue sky that the emphasis is more upon them than it is of the playground and the rest of the beach.

Learning More about processing photos

Learning more photo applications and doing more with photos

I bought the upgrade from SnapHeal to SnapHeal Pro today and mainly because it works as a plug in from Aperture. Aperture is where I do all my photography work so it is the best place to get access to the 3rd part apps – As a plugin. Same with the Photomatix Pro the HDR application and also Intensify Pro. I am not always going to put a photo through all of the plug ins available, but there could be times when I start work with three bracketed exposures in Photomatix Pro and then use SnapHeal to remove something from the image to finish off. I can do things like adding a vignette in Aperture, but I get better controls over the final look in Intensify Pro.

SnapHeal

When you get into using SnapHeal you will be amazed at how it does such a great job of removing things from an image. You really can take things out of a photo and not know that there was ever anything there. I showed what the app can do to my wife and her face lit up with incredulity. It is really easy to use, you just brush the area that you want to delete after changing the brush size to best suit the size of the object. There are a couple of settings that you can change, but basically all you need to do is to click on the button Erase and ‘poof’ it is gone. It really does seem like magic when you use this application.

Get in line

I have found that if I need to erase something that is a straight line, all I need to do is to click on a start point and then move to the end of the line, hold down the shift key and click again.

Not just for the erasing of objects in photos

Sometimes it is necessary to work on the image little bit more manually and you can do that within Snapheal Pro by using the clone tool. You can also use tools for brushing the mask on and brushing the mask off and you can even do selection of the shape with a sort of Lasso tool. You get the choice of going polygonal or freehand. Mostly Snapheal is famous for its ability to raise objections in a photograph but it also has retouching and adjustment tools. These can be applied to either the whole photograph or to the area that hasn’t been masked with the masking tools.

Saving and sharing

Before you decide that you have finished your work you may choose to have a look at your work as before and after any changes. If you hold down on the icon that looks like and eye in the toolbar you can toggle changes that you have made on and off. There is another icon which will allow you to see both of your before and after images side-by-side.

When I have completed all of the work on a photograph there are a number of things I can do with it. You can just click on save and it will go back into Aperture if you have launched into it as I plug-in. Or you can use one of the sharing options available if you have opened up the application as a stand-alone.

NEX-6 Camera applications – Time-Lapse

Using the extra applications with the Sony NEX-6

You can extend the functionality of your Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens – Black
by purchasing some of the extra applications available from the Sony Play Mobile site. There are also one or two free applications which you can use, such as the one which allows you to use an Android or an iOS device to be a remote controller for the camera. I have downloaded the free applications and I have bought a couple of the paid for applications that I thought looked interesting. One of the paid applications is called Time-lapse and it does what it says on the tin, that is to allow you to capture a set of photographs at intervals and combine them into a movie. I was able to do this with my Canon 600D when I had the free extra application called Magic Lantern. You can use this timelapse application to take pictures of clouds scudding across the sky when you can hardly see that they are moving because they are going so slowly. It can also be interesting to use this timelapse application to shoot a short movie of a scene in a street, especially if you view from high above.

Getting started with using the application Timelapse on the Sony NEX-6

The first thing to do is to get the application onto your camera and to be perfectly honest I am not terribly impressed with how easy it is to buy applications from the Sony application store. I had one or two problems with getting my second purchase from the site even though the first one was easy enough. In the end, to get around the difficulties I had and buy a PlayStation card so that I could put money into a Sony account. I was then able to use that value in the Sony account to buy the applications. The applications tend to be either available for free, £3.99 or £7.99 and the timelapse application was in the higher bracket.

After installing the application on the Sony NEX6 Camera
, about six days later there was an update to it, version 2. If you also have version 1 and you need to upgrade to version 2, you can’t just click on the update button on the website while you have your camera attached. What you have to do first of all is to go into the Application Manager on the camera and to delete the previous version and then click on install. The USB connection to the camera and the installation process seems a little bit flaky at times and there is a possibility you may need to try more than once to get it to work.

NEX-6 Timelapse

Themes within the Timelapse application on Sony NEX-6

The themes are really just presets and they are a good start for your first recording of timelapse movies. I would recommend that you try out the presets which suits best the movie that you are making. Apart from the standard timelapse preset there is one for a night scene, another for sunrise or sunset, miniature, night sky, cloudy sky and then there is the one called custom. If you start off by using the standard setting you can take those initial settings and change some of the parameters within that. From the information page that is for the theme you can go to the options and for each theme there are five pages of options to play with. In some themes some options can’t be changed. There is a timer which you can turn on or off, if you have it on then you have a two second self timer. Within the standard theme settings on page 2 you can change the movie size and go for either 1080p or 720p. On page 3 you can change the focus mode and the focus area and you can also change the exposure compensation.

Sony NEX6 timelapse 2

You can also go into the application settings for the theme so that you can sort out exactly what you want for the time lapse in terms of frames per second, interval, the number of shots and in some of the themes you can choose the automatic exposure, whether it should have tracking or not. It is in this area that you will see how long it is going to take for you to record the final length of your video interactively as you change the length of the interval and the number of the shots. For a standard timelapse the default is 24 frames per second with a two second interval and 240 shots giving you a final length of video of 10 seconds and it tells you that it’s going to take eight minutes to complete this process. If you make any changes to the default settings, don’t worry as there is a option for you to reset to the default on the Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens – Black
.


NEW KIT ALERT

I just bought a DURAGADGET Double Zip Black And Red Protective Case so that I can keep the camera safe in my back pack. It is a bit more bulky but at least it isn’t going to get scratched.

Intensify Pro used on my photos

There was an offer on a website recently, MacHeist, that often has bundles of software available with amazing discounts. The latest offer included the application Intensify Pro. I had been trying the software previously, but didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to spend the money. The other software that was in the MacHeist bundle wasn’t really interesting to me, but at the same time the price overall was $40 cheaper than buying the application from the developer direct.

What does Intensify Pro do?

What the application is, is a set of adjustments and filters for photos to enhance to a greater level than is possible that I can already do within Aperture. There are a number of presets which work in the same way as other applications giving you filters to turn a good photograph into something that looks like it should be thrown into the Instagram bin (Or not!). This doesn’t mean that you can’t work with these filters in a subtle way.

I like the photos that I put up for public viewing to be full of power and punch and possibly I would use these settings a little bit further than would some other photographers. It is possible with this application to get an effect that goes along the lines of high dynamic range HDR photos. There are not quite the same number of possibilities for HDR as I would get by using three bracketed images and the application Photomatix Pro. At the same time though, there are a huge number of settings that can be twiddled with and fiddled with to give a massive range of effects.

Working with Intensify Pro as a plug-in through Aperture

Fullscreen 10 01 2014 15 25 3

It is very easy to select a photograph in Aperture and to use the menus to get to plug-in applications available such as Intensify Pro. You are taken directly to the plugged-in application where you can make all the changes that you want to make to the photo. As soon as you click on the button to apply the changes that you have made, the application closes and takes you back into Aperture. The version of the photo in Aperture is not altered and your new photograph is added to a stack next to the original.

Stacking the layers in Intensify Pro

It is possible to make a range of settings using one of the tools in the application and it is also possible to vary that affect by using the opacity tool. What you can also do is to add another layer where you use a different type of set of settings and once again use the opacity tool. With this you can further intensify your photograph with an infinite number of visual possibilities.

There are brush and eraser tools that you can use to mask on and off the effects that you are applying and there is even a gradient tool. This could be very useful where you want to have a colour or affect applied to the photograph in a way that only affects the top or the bottom of the photo and is gradually changed in intensity across the photo.

Intensify Pro

Getting creative with Intensify Pro

There are a lot of choices that you can make with both the presets that are available and the settings used to make those presets. With all of this configurability you can make both stunning and also dreadful images. It is known already that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I say that if you like it then do it. We should all be making images that are for ourselves and our own artistic sensibilities and are not just there to please the general public. Now go and create something!

Going over to the dark side – Evil photography

When it was time for me to buy the Canon 600D I was thinking about buying an EVIL camera. EVIL camera stands for Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lenses and the way that I see it is that this is a step forward from the old technology of cameras having a mirror inside them. It seems to me, to be a little bit weird that there is this bulky mechanical structure inside a camera that flips a mirror up and down so that you can see what the sensor will be seeing in a viewfinder. To be honest though, it is only since the advances in the video screens being able to show at a very high resolution that these electronic viewfinders have really become properly useful. I have recently bought a Sony NEX-6 and the Sony cameras have the best of the electronic viewfinders that are available. The other camera that has the electronic viewfinder that is very good is the Panasonic GH3 and I would suspect that the Olympus cameras also have decent electronic viewfinders. It wasn’t that it was something new bright and shiny and more modern than the old way of doing things with the mirrors that drew me towards a mirrorless camera, it was more about the size and weight. On our last trip I took my Canon 600D and I used it quite a lot. However, there were a number of times when I didn’t want to carry it with me because the camera is so big and heavy. I really didn’t want to have to lug around a huge lump of a camera in my small rucksack.

Choosing which mirrorless camera to buy

There were one or two cameras that took my fancy, I had been thinking along the lines of a Panasonic -GH3
. This is because it had gained a very good reputation for being good for shooting video and it even has an input for a microphone which is very important for video. I had also been looking at the Sony NEX7 Digital Compact System Camera with 18-55 Lens Kit
because this also has a microphone input. In the end my decision was based upon the quality of the camera that I could afford. The Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens
which is the camera I bought is newer than the Sony NEX 7 model and has a few features that the 7 doesn’t have, such as Wi-Fi. In the end I found that I’m not particular bothered about the microphone inputs because I can record myself using a small clip-on microphone recording into my iPhone. It is very easy for me to be able to match the audio from that microphone to the audio being recorded simultaneously with the microphones directly on the camera. Thank goodness we have this synchronisation available in Final Cut Pro X.

Shooting photos with the NEX-6

NEX 6 NEX 6 Overview NEX6B CE NEX6 Sony

When I first got the NEX-6 the biggest problem that I had was to change the menus from Chinese to English. I couldn’t read the Chinese characters in order to be able to know where the setting was within the huge set of menus within the camera. What I had to do in the end was to find a listing online of the menus and then to start out either the top or the bottom and do some counting. When you have a new camera with a different menu system even when it is in your own language it all seems a little bit Chinese anyway. So I needed to spend two or three days just fiddling around with the settings for the camera before I could really get into properly taking any pictures.

I even bought a book from Amazon which had a more readable version of the facilities and what the camera could do than is available with the official manual. To a large extent the manual just tells you where things are and what they are called, but doesn’t go anywhere near to explaining what these different settings can do and what you would use them. This is where the book which is called ‘Sony NEX-6: From Snapshots to Great Shots
‘ by Jerod Foster came in handy. There was some information in the book which I didn’t really need where he talks about some of the basics of photography such as how to deal with Aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting. Nor did I need that much information about why you would use shutter speed priority or aperture speed priority and when you might decide to go for full manual settings. However, it was very useful in terms of there being a fair amount of detail with regards the settings specific to this camera. I found a number of things on the camera that were useful to me due to this book.

Out with the old and in with the new

When you make a drastic change from one manufacturer’s cameras to another is that often you will have to do also change a load of other photography extras at the same time. So you might normally have to sell all of your lenses along with the camera bodies and to start fresh with the new lenses that work with the new camera. Fortunately with this Sony camera NEX system this is not necessarily the case. I have been able to get an adapter which will let me use the Canon mount EOS lens that I only bought a few months ago and still be able to get good use out of it. There are adapters available that will let you connect up to the electronic parts of the lens, but they are quite expensive. I bought one that cost about 10 Euro and I can use it by manually focusing. The manual focus is made very easy by the use of helpful focus zebra marks. These are colourful lines that appear on the edges of things when they are in focus you can choose to see these in either red, white or yellow and I prefer the yellow colour. This makes it a cinch to get your photograph in focus just where you want it to be completely sharp.

Not only can I use lenses which are relatively new it is also possible to use vintage lenses, once again by using an adapter. The advantage of this is that you can get good quality fast lenses within a F stop of 1.8 or even 1.4 and the best of all, is that you can get them very cheaply from eBay. I have a Canon FD 50 mm 1.8 and adapter and I expect to be able to use this to get some very good photographs with very good bokeh. All in all the Sony NEX6
is a very versatile camera indeed with software that at first seems quite complicated, but is actually very easy to use. It is also possible to buy a specific Sony LA-EA2
which allows you to use the Sony Alpha amount camera lenses. Lots of options for lenses for the Sony NEX system.

Hello mirrorless and goodbye forever DSLR

So what I have now is a camera which technically is as good as the Canon 600D
. Specifically it is the same size sensor exactly, but with better software in a body which is smaller and lighter. The best camera in the world is the one that you have with you and with this camera being so easy to put into a bag and carry you can understand why some people would say that this is the best camera. I can see that this camera will be just the job for a good number of years and the only camera which is otherwise lust worthy at the moment is the Sony A7 which has the full frame sensor.

How useful is Magic Lantern Software on the Canon 600D

Using Magic Lantern on the Canon 600D

When you get a new camera, even if it is one that is an upgrade to a model that you have owned previously, you need to spend time learning all of the menus in the camera software. Cameras are getting more and more complicated and sophisticated, so without a doubt you need to spend some time delving into the insides of the operating system. My Canon 600D is pretty intuitive to use, certainly as far as the various modes of taking pictures. I do use manual mode on occasions and I particularly like the ease of using aperture priority or shutter speed priority. I don’t tend to use the program mode setting that is the P setting that some beginners seem to think stands for professional.

Magic Lantern Firmware Wiki

Even more complicated with the addition of Magic Lantern

There are a few additions that you get by the use of Magic Lantern and the main one for me is the fact that it gives me some meters for the levels of the sound recording. This is particularly important for me as I bought the camera mainly for the purpose of recording video. Magic Lantern does also add settings for HDR bracketed shots. It is possible to do that with the standard software, but I can do it quicker with Magic Lantern.

If I decide that I would like to do some timelapse photography, there are some excellent extra tools within Magic Lantern. The intervalometer is very easy to set up, so that I can record a clip every certain number of seconds. I can set the duration for the video clip, for example I might ask it to stop recording after four seconds. If I am running a timelapse which is going from day to night I can also use a setting which will take care of bulb ramping.

There are also a number of focusing tools available. You can do things like turn on the Trap Focus. There is also a simple follow focus that you can operate using the arrow keys. Within the focus settings there are plenty of settings to play with and really it is recommended to have a good read of the manual for Magic Lantern.

Magic Lantern tweaks

It is all well and good that on camera, you also have some help information for Magic Lantern. To get to this you click on the info button on your camera while you have the Magic Lantern menus in front of you. The help that you get depends upon exactly what you are looking at in the menus. Looking through all of the menus within Magic Lantern, I have to say that there are some weird and wonderful menu options. One of the options is to click on the button which says ‘Don’t click me!’ The hint at the bottom of the screen tells you that if you do click it, the camera may turn into a 1DX or may explode. Obviously the developer of the Magic Lantern software has a sense of humour.

Installing Magic Lantern can be tricky

Well it can be tricky, but I honestly found it easy enough by just carefully following the instructions that came with the software. You have to install the Magic Lantern software on each of the memory cards that you use in the camera. This way the Magic Lantern software is able to work as an add-on to the standard Canon camera software.

Where I tend to have most difficulty using this Magic Lantern, is in the area of knowing which buttons to press to change the ISO setting. I really need to spend some more time studying how the whole thing works. When you are out and about and you want to take some photographs, you really don’t want to spend all of the time struggling with menus. Like most things that involve software with numerous menus, capabilities, functionality and complicated stuff, it is really best to learn these things one small step at a time.

Excellent software – Well worth having

That is no doubt that within the DSLR filmmaking community that the Magic Lantern software is highly regarded. There are many that consider that Magic Lantern is an essential step to take when you are using cameras, such as the Canon 550D. 600D or the Canon 5D Mark 2. Certainly the extra software is very useful and well worth getting, you just have to spend the time to get to know the ins and outs of how it works, that’s all.

I will make some more posts on here looking at Magic Lantern in more depth. I will dive into one section at a time and post my findings on the Spondicious Blog.

Shooting Nature in Alquézar in the foothills of the Pyrenees

A photography trip to Aragón

It was Easter weekend and it seemed that we should get away and do something rather than hanging around the house. So we went to a place called Alquézar in the region of Aragón. This region is not quite the Pyrenees and it is more large hills rather than mountains. There was plenty of landscape and nature to use as subject matter for photography. I had my Canon 600D in my hand, just about the whole time while there.

High saturation and contrast equals good art

The town itself was extremely picturesque, as a lot of money had been spent on the restoration of the old town. It is quite reminiscent of Pals which is closer to home. Lots of small streets that were quite like a maze and there was even a street called Calle Dragones, Dragons Street. Many of the photographs that I shot while in Alquézar were to be HDR photos, that I intended to work on later, back at base on the computer using the application Photomatix Pro. I am finding though, that when using RAW photos I can get the sort of image that I like, just using a standard RAW image adjusted in iPhoto. I like to have photos that have bright colours and high saturation and a good amount of contrast. They don’t necessarily look totally realistic, but they are in my opinion, good art.

Using Photomatix Pro

This application has improved since I first bought it and it has a number of default options that you can use. Initially there were only two options originally, one was Tone Mapping which was the one that I chose to get the typical HDR image. The other setting to something which was more like a standard photograph, but with a slightly wider range of tones. With the later version of Photomatix Pro, you get defaults such as Enhancer grunge, painterly, Compressor default or Compressor deep and Fusion intensive or Fusion two images. So you have three basic styles – compressor, fusion and enhancer. My favourite would probably be the Compressor – Deep default setting.

It depends upon the photo

If you have a photo that doesn’t have much sky in it, then the Enhancer – Painterly can look quite good. Using the same settings on an image with a lot of blue sky can look awful. Using the setting of Enhancer – Grunge will look pretty awful whatever photo you are using it with. The 11 default settings that you have available that are going to get started, but you can also make further adjustments to the way the photo is processed finally.

You can also decide to first of all choose the process you want to use, either tone mapping or exposure fusion and then just play with the sliders until you get something you like. It would be a good idea then, to save your setup as presets for yourself to use later. The number sliders that you get to play with depends upon the choice of process and method which is your starting point. You can make it so that the photo will have all of the details enhanced, so that you have an ultra-sharp image that is hyperrealistic. Or you can have the tone compression which gives a smoother look. Once you have chosen your required look, you just have to click on process and then save the image. See below for examples of the same image with two different conversions. The first one is the painterly effect and the other uses the compressor deep effect.

Painterly

Photomatix Pro Painterly HDR

Compressor Deep

Compressor deep Photomatix Pro

Stuck in Customs

The person that is most famous online for his HDR photography is a fellow called Trey Ratcliff, otherwise known as Stuck in Customs. He does some amazing shots all around the world and I have been following his work on Flickr for a few years now. Interestingly, it was Trey who has recently suggested that the EVIL cameras are very likely to be taking over from the cameras with mirrors in them, the DSLR cameras that we are used to presently, in the next couple of years. I am discussing this type of camera, the Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, on the EvilPhotography website. I almost wish that I had bought the Panasonic GH2 or waited for the Sony NEX–7 rather than the Canon 600D, even though there are some advantages to having the Canon.

Meanwhile back in Alquézar

I had a very enjoyable time taking around 400 photographs while in Alquézar. Of course, all of the photos were nature type photos, which is okay, even though I do more often have the urge to take urban grunge type images. I was quite pleased to shoot an image of a flower, just because it was the smallest ever daffodil, narcissus flower that I had ever seen. The images that were shot of the town were all very picturesque and could not at all be described as urban. Certainly I could have spent another couple of days shooting photos in this region.

Getting a good lens for DSLR video

It is all about the glass – The Canon nifty 50

For taking good photographs and getting that narrow depth of field with your subject perfectly in focus and the background nicely out of focus you need to have a faster lens. Opening up the aperture so that you have it as wide as the lens will let you go gives you the narrower depth of field. So being able to go to F 1.8 with the Canon nifty 50 lens will be better than using the kit lens which will only go to about F 3.5. There are other benefits to having a faster lens the main one being that you can let more light reached the sensor. You will be able to get better pictures by being able to let more light through.

Not perfect but very good value for money

Canon has made this F1.8 available at a very good affordable price, somewhere around the $100. My son has one of those Canon lenses that he uses on his Canon 550D and he wants to buy an even better lens. I am lucky that he is willing to sell me his nifty 50 Canon lens. The nifty 50 lens may be a cheap lens but it does give you good results.