Friday, 31 August 2012

The Copernicus Science Centre

HDR photo of Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, Poland
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.


Yesterday with a group of fellow photographers from Warsaw we went on a short photo walk. We started near the Warsaw University, then went passed the Warsaw University Library and made a final stop near the Swietokrzyski bridge and the Copernicus Science Centre. You can see the last of these in the photo above. The Copernicus Science Centre is the science museum where you can interact with the exhibited objects thus making simple experiments. Although I've never been inside, I heard some great opinions about it. And as you can see its warm orange lights looked amazing against the cold blues of the sky. As the Copernicus Science Centre is situated on the Vistula River bank I managed to capture some colorful reflections in the same frame.

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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

1000 fans on Facebook!


Good news :) today I managed to reach 1000 fans milestone on my Facebook photo profile. It's very nice that so many people like my photos. So I would like to thank everyone visiting this page and my Facebook profile (and my 500px/Ateliora/Flickr pages).

A photo above was taken in the Carmo Convent in Lisbon and tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. Here is EXIF data:

Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 10 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/125 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.2.3, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

I'm on Shutterstock!

I took this photo in Barcelona in 2010. Unfortunately it's one of just a few HDR photos I took during my trip there.
You might already know this if you follow me on Facebook (my profile is here in case you don't ;) ) - in case you're interested in buying my photos for your work I have some good news for you. A few days ago I was accepted as a Shutterstock contributor.

You can by my photos by clicking on the link below. There isn't much at the moment (there was 1 photo "available" in the morning but should be more soon as I have more photos which were accepted). I also plan to add more photos soon maybe even this week.

My latest images for sale at Shutterstock:

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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Two Lizards

I took this photo during my last visit to the Warsaw ZOO.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM
Focal length: 300 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 3200
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5


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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Tip: how to restore settings from tone-mapped image?

This photo was taken in Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra near Lisbon. It's one of the most beautiful and strange palaces I've ever seen. There are plenty of hidden tunnels, caves and symbols related to alchemy and Masonry. You can spend whole day wandering there and discovering new interesting things and places.
Has it ever happen to you that you wanted to use the same settings for tone-mapping/fusing in Photomatix Pro as for some particular image but you couldn't remember what they were exactly? It's easy if you saved them as a preset but if you used some unique settings and didn't save them it might seem to be more difficult to restore them at first. Or maybe you have a photo from some HDR guru and would like to know what settings he used to process his photos? Either way this short tip will be for you.

Guessing is one option of course but actually there is a better and easier way. Just open a processed photo in Photomatix Pro using File -> Open command (or press CTRL + O) and click on the "View Settings" button (or press CTRL + E). A following window will appear:
It's an Embedded Settings window. It details processing method used (in this case Details Enhancer) and values of all the settings. You can note them down or even better save them as a preset by clicking on the "Save Settings" button. And now you can use them to process your photos :)

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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Side road in Lisbon

I took above photo in Lisbon. I walked into some side road and found this nice place (don't know its name if it has any). Unfortunately this scene had very wide dynamic range. Using 3 exposures at 2.0 EV spacing wasn't enough to cover it all (look at the sky - it's completely blown out). I regret not having a tripod with me during that walk.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure time: 1/30 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.2.3, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Macro presets for Lightroom 4

Today I decided to share some of my Lightroom 4 presets which I used in my recent macro photos. I used one of them in a photo above.

You can download them here. Additionally the archive contains Drops preset which I used when shooting droplets and splashes (you can see photos of them here and here).

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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Billions of unknown worlds

As a kid I dreamt of becoming an astronaut. I spent hours reading about Apollo missions, about Mars (and plans of first landing of a man on its surface in the 21st century). When I grew I realized that I have virtually no chances in flying anywhere outside Earth (and what's more I hate even such regular flights) but my fascination in space haven't ceased. I still spent quite a lot of my free time following progress of Voyagers mission (and more recently Curiosity), I watch documentaries about the Universe on the Discovery Channel and so on. However, the best thing is looking up. Seeing all those stars above us, realizing that we are just as tiny as a salt-grain in space scale... that's all amazing and scaring in a sense. Unfortunately I hardly ever have occasion to take a photo of stars and it's even less frequent to have such a clear sky as in the photo above. I took it more than a year ago.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 10 mm
Aperture: f/3.5
Exposure time: 22 s
ISO: 1600
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photoshop CS5

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Monday, 20 August 2012

Snail

Today macro photo showing a snail. It's quite interesting to see how complex creature a snail is - we miss all these small details when viewing it in a normal scale.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 100 f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
Focal length: 100 mm
Aperture: f/20.0
Exposure time: 1/200 s
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: yes
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Inferno

I love shooting fire and flames. Here is one of the older shots showing it. If you're interested in shooting fire photos yourself, please have a look at this tutorial I posted some time ago.

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Friday, 17 August 2012

Cannon in St. Jorge's Castle

I shot this cannon in the St. Jorge's Castle (Castello de Sao Jorge) in Lisbon.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 47 mm
Aperture: f/11.0
Exposure time: 1/40 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 250
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2 E.V.
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.2.3, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Thursday, 16 August 2012

My maine coon cat

Today I decided to share photo of my new maine coon cat.

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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Lisbon once again

I have already uploaded a large number of photos from Lisbon but there are still many more. Here is one of them.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure time: 1/160 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 640
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2 E.V.
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.2.3, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Spring in Royal Baths Park

Royal Baths Park is one of my favourite places in Warsaw. I took a number of photos there like this, this or this. Today I decided to share one more taken in May 2010.

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Monday, 13 August 2012

Autumn in Warsaw

Ok, we're in the middle of the summer here in Poland but today I would like to share one of my favourite autumn shots. I especially like the red leaves lying on the ground in the right side of this photo (well the red tree is also nice :) ). Hope you like it too.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/7.0
Exposure time: 1/640 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 500
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2 E.V.
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Street photo

I'm not good at street photography and what's more I even don't feel comfortable shooting people in the streets. That's why I hardly ever upload such photos but today I decided to share one of them.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM
Focal length: 93 mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure time: 1/80 s
ISO: 1600
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photoshop CS5

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Friday, 10 August 2012

Tutorial: Shooting drops and water splashes


After sharing some droplets/splash photos a few days ago I got rather positive feedback so today I decided to write a few words on how to shoot droplets/splashes.

First of all you will need following items:
  • macro lens - if you don't have one, you can buy close up filter for just a few bucks, eg. here.
  • shallow dark tank - the best results you can achieve with black one. The tank shouldn't be very deep to avoid reflecting its walls in the water. Something like 3 - 6 cm should do. Also make sure it's clean inside as any dirt might become visible in the photos.
  • colourful sheet of paper (our background) - depending on your choice the water will have different colour. In the photo above I used solid green but also experimented with red, blue and some mix of red, blue and white.
  • small plastic bag
  • tripod
  • external flash unit and a wireless transmitter/receiver or a cable
And here are the steps to take water splash photo:
  1. Fill your tank with water. Note that depending of how much water you pour, you will get slightly different results (water will splash higher or lower for instance) so you will have to experiment what water level is the best for you.
  2. Put colourful sheet of paper behind the tank.
  3. Position flash unit in front of the tank. Let the flash unit target the background (at the angle of 45 degrees). This way the light will bounce off this card, change colour and light the water.
  4. Hang the plastic bag filled with water directly above the tank and made a tiny hole in it using a needle. Drops will start to fall at this stage.
  5. Position your camera (preferably on a tripod to avoid shake). Target your camera so you can see falling drops through a viewfinder. Note that an angle between your camera lens and water surface matters. The closer it gets to the right angle the less reflections you will have (but instead you will see bottom of your tank). So I suggest using steep angles. I don't what to get very technical here but if you're interested how much light will get reflected and refacted you can read on Fresnel equations.
  6. Change your lens focusing to Manual.
  7. Observe falling drops (they should always fall in the same place) and put a pen in the place where they hit water surface. While still holding a pen look through a viewfinder and focus on a pen using manual focusing ring.
  8. Set your camera to ISO 100. Shutter speed and aperture depend on the results you want to achieve. I was using fast shutter speed of 1/250 - 1/125 and apertures ranging f/11 to f/9.
  9. Switch your flash unit to manual mode.
  10. Take a few test shots and decrease power of your flash unit if necessary (i.e. if the images will be too bright).
  11. Start shooting :) this is the funniest and the most difficult part. Getting nice photo of a drop requires a bit of trial and error and also luck. You can observe falling drops and press shutter release when they are close to the water surface. Alternatively you can use Magic Lantern to detect motion. If you want to capture water splash wait for a "splash" sound and fire immediately after it.
If all of this sounds rather complicated, here is a concept image showing my setup during the shoot:


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Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Belem Tower

Today photo of the Belem Tower in Lisbon. It isn't the best one I must admit but for some reason I couldn't get anything better.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/200 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2.0 EV
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.2.3, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

View from the Monserrat mountain

Today one of my favourite HDR photos (I like it so much that very large print of its black & white version hangs in my flat). I took it almost exactly two years ago from the Monserrat mountain near Barcelona, Spain. The view from it was breathtaking and I regret not having tripod with me and also not being there during the golden hour... but still I think it's quite good :)

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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

One more photo of droplets

Today I upload one more photo of drops from the recent shoot. I hope you're not bored with it. Even though I shoot mainly HDR photos I believe it's very important for a photographer to try something outside his comfort zone (which for me is landscapes/architecture) as it helps in improving general skills. That's why from time to time I take different photos (eg. animals or macro).

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 100 mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
Focal length: 100 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: yes, off-camera
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Software: Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Monday, 6 August 2012

Water Splash

This is another photo from a recent shoot. This time a water splash. It's quite amazing how such a common thing looks when viewed through a macro lens and with a fast shutter speed.

I used quite fast shutter speed to create this somewhat abstract image. As I was using Phottix Strato II wireless transmitter I was limited to 1/250 s. Next time I plan to use continuous light to shoot with even faster shutter to create something even more intriguing.

I was asked by some people how did I achieve these colors. The solution was simple. I used colourful cards and reflected flash light off them. I will write a few more words about my technique later this week (hopefully with another set of images as I analysed my mistakes and hope to do better next time :) )

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 100 mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
Focal length: 100 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: yes, off-camera
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Software: Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Sunday, 5 August 2012

Little Gems

This time I'm posting a photo of droplets. I wanted to try droplets photography for quite a long time since I've seen such a photo for the first time a few years ago. Yesterday I finally managed to. What I can say is that droplets photography is quite challenging and gives you a lot of satisfaction. Also the images are abstract and beautiful.

If anyone is interested, I will write a few words on how to take such a photo in the following days.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 100 mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
Focal length: 100 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: yes, off-camera
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Software: Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Friday, 3 August 2012

Tilt-shift from Lisbon

I don't often make fake tilt-shift photos but here is one of my attempts from Lisbon. The original photo was HDR from 3 exposures. I chose the angle and colors so it looks like the miniature plastic world.

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Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Moorish Castle - before/after comparison

before
after


Many other HDR photographers compare on their blogs 0EV photo with tone mapped one. This is what I decided to do for the first time. Just put your mouse pointer over the above image to see how the original 0EV photo looks. Note how much detail was restored in the shadows.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 50D
Lens: Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM
Focal length: 22 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/1250 s (for "normal" exposure)
ISO: 250
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2.0 EV
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Software: Photomatix Pro 4.2.3, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Tutorial: How to take handheld HDR photo?

This photo I took recently in Warsaw was shot hand-held despite it was getting quite late.
For taking HDR photos a steady tripod is really recommended. Mainly because this way you can avoid misalignment issues between the bracketed shots. Another reason is that you can shoot at ISO 100 even when it is relatively dark.

However, there are situations when you can't use tripod (because it can be forbidden, for instance in some museums) or you don't like to carry it whole day. Actually the latter is often true for me as when travelling I walk for even 10 hours a day. Having already two cameras (and both Canon 50D and Canon 5D MK II bodies aren't light) plus a few lenses, bottle with something to drink etc. I try to limit remaining equipment. As tripods are large and sometimes heavy I often leave them in a hotel room. But still I take a lot of HDR photos and I would like to share some tips on how to shoot HDRs hand-held with you:
  • always use the auto-bracketing feature of your camera. Most of the cameras support only 3 photos but in the majority of cases it will be enough (but not always - take a look at this post). Using auto-bracketing feature is useful because you don't need to change exposure parameters manually between the shots.
  • use 2 seconds timer (or 10 sec if your camera doesn't allow shorter times) and/or burst mode. The first will reduce camera shake caused by you pressing the shutter release, the latter will ensure that the time between bracketed shots is short.
  • use wide-angle lens whenever possible. Short focal lengths like 10-22 mm on a crop camera (or 16-35) are best for hand-held shots. At these focal lengths any misalignment between the shots is harder to notice (and therefore easier to correct).
  • try to put your camera on something steady or position yourself next to something like this (eg. wall, fence), i.e. find some artificial tripod.
  • ensure that all photos are shot using fast enough shutter speed. Normally when you take a photo at focal length of X mm it is enough to use shutter speed of 1 / X to have a sharp shot. However, in case of HDR you need to ensure that every shot will satisfy this condition as you want all of your bracketed photos to be sharp. In a lot of cases you will need to either open aperture a little bit or increase ISO.
    For example let's assume that you shoot bracketed sequence of -2; 0; +2 with 50 mm lens. Although normally 1/50 s would guarantee sharp photo, in this case +2 EV photo also requires 1/50 s to be sharp. That means that you have to shoot your normal exposure at 1/200 s and underexposed photo at 1/800 s...
  • when merging your HDR in your HDR software make sure alignment option is turned on.
Hope these short tips help when you find yourself in a situation when you can't use tripod.

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