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Category Archives: Travel
A couple of years ago I had the great fortune to travel to Vienna (known locally as “Wien”, which is where the word “Wiener Schnitzel” comes from) for a business trip. It’s a lovely historical city loaded with culture. One of the things I really love about Europe is the way the historical sections of many major cities (Paris, London, Vienna, etc.) are fairly concentrated and within walking distance of each other. On this trip I had taken an extra day off just to wander around and shoot things– it’s a wonderful place for doing just that. I set out right after breakfast that morning and wandered the city until about 9:00 that night. Continue reading
I have been fighting it for years, but I finally relented. Look, I know that the value of light is the vocabulary of the photographer– I embrace that. I value the importance of the direction, color, intensity, quality (hardness vs. softness), the interplay of light and shadow– the elements of light. I am a dedicated student of the parameters of the proton en masse. And I am painfully aware of the mantra of the outdoor photographer, “to capture the best light you have to be there before sunrise.” But, dammit, I used to be a musician– when I witnessed daylight it was at the end of my day. And it wasn’t always pretty. Continue reading
If you follow this post, you know that it has been a rather busy time for me lately. Over the last few years, I haven’t traveled as much as in the more distant past. Typically I’ve had three or four trips a year for business and then a couple or three for pleasure. This summer has been a recent exception– NYC, Reading/Winchester England, New Orleans, and over the past three weeks Barcelona, San Francisco and then off to the mountains of Tennessee’s central basin for a week-long vacation with the family. When I’ve gone quite some time without posting, I always feel that the next post should be something big and significant. That need just seems to delay the next post even further. Instead, I decided to just go ahead and post whether it be epic or not.
Successful photographers often suggest slowing down and using a more contemplative approach to photography. I understand the value of this and can appreciate what can be achieved if you really take in the surroundings, pre-visualize the photographic result you seek, and then bring technology into harmony with the setting to put forth the vision that resides in your imagination. I also understand that almost every one of the photographs that I am proud of are a result of having my camera set properly for the surroundings and then just being alert when something happens.
That’s what occurred for the photo above. My wife and I were just hanging around Jackson Square in New Orleans checking things out when I saw this lady with a bright sunflower umbrella was about to enter the store. I knew she was just on the verge of entering the shade and the opportunity would be missed so I just whipped up my camera, focused, composed, and hoped everything was set right. In the end I’m pretty happy with the result.
Here it is, Winchester Cathedral. I had no map of the area; and to use Google maps on my iPhone would have cost me a fortune in digital roaming fees, since I was in Europe. So it took me quite a bit of wandering around parochial school playing fields, historic chapels, and old pubs before I finally found Winchester Cathedral. As you can see above, it was well worth the trouble.
Locations like this are a real challenge for photography. They are massive, so you need to have a wide angle lens. They also have a tremendous dynamic range (the difference between the lightest tones and the darkest). It ranges from pitch black shadows in the cubby holes to bright sunlit windows. To make it more challenging, the camera’s digital sensor, while it does have a greater dynamic range than film, still can’t match the range that your eyes see. The only way I know to get around this is to use what is called High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.
HDR under these circumstances requires slow shutter speeds, which you know will cause blurred photos if you handhold your camera. So you need to use a tripod. This brings up another challenge for these locations. They often don’t allow the use of a full-size tripod (people coming in from the sunlight into the dim light might trip over it). Fortunately, I always travel with a very small “tabletop” tripod. Here’s the one I use…http://amzn.to/jo9S3F. It’s only about 6″ tall and fits neatly in the outside pocket of my small camera bag.
The photo above is an HDR photo. It was made up of three shots, one at the “normal” exposure (as determined by the camera), one at one stop under exposed, and one at one stop over exposed. (In hindsight I wish I had taken a few more exposures to capture even more of the detail in the scene). Then I imported the photos into my computer and used specialized software to combine the three images. The last step was to do some further tweaks to the perspective, contrast, and sharpness to get the final result above. Since I shoot in raw mode, as opposed to jpg like from your point and shoot cameras, my camera stores all of the unedited information from the sensor. In jpg mode, your camera automatically adds color saturation, sharpness, contrast, etc., and compresses the file to make it smaller by discarding some of the information captured on the sensor. I prefer to make these adjustments myself and keep an uncompressed raw file with more information and greater resolution.
If you’re curious, below is the unedited “normal” exposure straight out of the camera and not HDR processed.
This is a summer full of photo-packed opportunities for me. So keep an eye on this space for regular updates and more photos from multiple locations.
One of the first sites I stumbled upon in Winchester was the Great Hall. It was built some time around 1235 AD under the reign of Henry III and was the venue of dining as well as the administration of justice (hopefully not at the same time). When the Great Hall was built Winchester was the political capital of the English Empire. The doors you see above were added much later, but I thought they were quite interesting nonetheless.
Here’s a closer look at the detail (click on the photo and then click once again to enlarge).
Here’s the other end of the Hall. The round table top on the wall is an “imitation of King Arthur’s Round Table.” The wood used for the table top is circa 1275 AD.
There weren’t many visitors here and no one supervising, so I spent about 45 minutes trying different angles and lenses to capture this place. Yeah, I know, you’d think I would have captured a masterpiece with that amount of effort.
OK, so enough history already! It was about lunchtime, so I headed out in search of a pint of ale and some curry. I didn’t want some place in the epicenter of tourist activity so I wandered the side streets and alleys until I found this place.
It claimed to be the oldest bar in England (established 1002). I didn’t care as long as the beer was cold and the food was fresh. And indeed they were.
Next stop Winchester Cathedral…