The Way I See It

Archive for August 2011

dreaming with my eyes wide open, part i

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After shooting and posting Cycle of Life, I found the image so boringly literal that I did another shoot. This time, I chose to only keep a very, very narrow plane in focus, allowing everything else to fade into color and light. I like it, but it’s probably too out-of-focus for some?

dwmewo i

dwmewo, i

Photog Notes
This one is literally straight out of the camera. I overexposed by about ½ a stop to get the brilliant green glow. To light the scene, I used reflected sunlight from a big bay window with sheer white curtains. But, using this kind of lighting also meant that I had to use a long exposure (2 seconds, which is very long for daylight images)  in order to get the proper tones deep inside the leaf. I mounted the camera on my ultra-heavy tripod, composed the image, locked down all the controls, set the shutter on self-timer and made sure everything was kept as still as could be during the exposure, myself included (I have wood floors that would have transmitted some vibration if I had been moving about).

 

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Written by xinapray

August 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Joyful Dance

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Joyful Dance

Joyful Dance

Gorgeous sunny weather today. Not a cloud in the clear blue sky, (late afternoon) temperatures hover around 80°F (26°C) as I type. I made this image on an equally beautiful Pacific Northwest summer day last week. I ended up getting a bit wet, but who can complain on days like today?

Photog Notes
Shoot enough seascapes and you get reasonably good at judging the direction, frequency and size of the incoming waves, the positions and profiles of the rocks at the waterline, and thus the patterns of spray when the waves slap into those rocks. I try to stay away from vertical rock faces, especially when the prevailing wind and tide drive incoming waves headlong into them….because this usually means widespread, unpredictable patterns of flying water. But on this day, all I had to work with was ~30 feet of shoreline and wouldn’t you know it, mostly-vertical rock faces that were taking the brunt of the incoming tide. So I tried as best as I could to hide the camera in the spray shadow of an adjacent rock and judiciously covered the camera while not making exposures.

 

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August 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm

The Blue Angels

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Angel and Albert

Angel and Albert

The Blue Angels were in town recently. I decided to mosey down to the Museum of Flight, where they were based. Tons of people and we only got to see a little bit of the action (the main airshow takes place over Lake Washington), but it was worth it. I enjoyed the speed and the carnival atmosphere. Also, got lots of usable shots, but nothing that really struck my fancy except for these two.

Vapor Trails

Vapor Trails

Photog Notes
Angel and Albert was actually shot through a chain link fence, which I used as a design element (there were just too many people between me and the fence). To isolate the Blue Angel, I used an extremely wide aperture of f/5.6. This made the fence dissolve while pulling the jet out from Fat Albert and the structures in the background.

Vapor Trails was one of many, many in-the-sky images that I made. Since this was my first serious attempt at chronicling the jets, I literally ended up with ~100 images with the Blue Angels glued to a brilliant summer sky. Perfectly in focus, in double formation, triple, quad, quint  and even all six of them. Problem was, I’d done no better than if I’d photoshopped them onto the blue background. Gotta work on the technique more next year.

 

Written by xinapray

August 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Chengdu Rising

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Beijing and Shanghai are often seen as the symbols of modern China. But Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, impresses me mightily. It is a city on the rise. A metropolis in a hurry to become world class. There is an electric ambition in the air that far outpaces any of the bustle and development that I’ve seen in those other places. If I had to pick a place to live in, I’d be hard-pressed not to pick Chengdu. And the 24 x 7 availability of Sichuanese cuisine doesn’t hurt either  😉

Chengdu Rising

Chengdu Rising

Photog Notes
I made this on the way to lunch in the Chunxi Lu retail district. To me, this image embodies the rise of the new China. Modern, sophisticated, affluent, with a uniquely contemporary Chinese flair that is rooted in traditionalism. Surrounding the couple are symbols of the growing economy, intermingled with vestiges of the old…just like the nation itself.

I shot this with a mid-range focal length of 65 mm to compress things front-to-rear, while using a relatively large aperture (f/8) to isolate the couple. I liked the resulting points of attention, but the harsh midday sun played quite a bit of havoc with the lighting. The shade from the umbrella made things worse, of course. To restore the scene to the way that the human eye sees, I created two subtly different images with respect to exposure, then manually blended the two. I also applied a teeny bit of dodging and burning to further highlight the differences. As always, I welcome your comments!

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August 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

You Are My Never-Ending Song

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I made this image at sunset on Sunday. Things looked bleak from the house but I decided to head down to the water anyway (because any sunset hour on the beach is a good hour). I got there to find dark clouds obscuring the horizon, except for a break north of where the sun would set. Things were not looking good but as 8:30 approached, brilliant orange light spilled from that gash in the gray, and soon the sky was aglow and the crests of waves took on amazing color. I didn’t feel like setting up the tripod and gear so I decided to work on some handheld interpretive images instead.

你是我一首唱不完的歌

你是我一首唱不完的歌

Photog Notes
To achieve a painterly effect, I exposed this image at ⅓ second while panning the camera parallel to the horizon. To bring out the detail in the waves and mountains, I used a relatively long 105 mm focal length, aperture set to f/38 (to achieve maximum depth of field as well as to allow for the long shutter speed). One key with making images like this is to achieve a smooth sweep while the shutter is open. This accomplish this, I usually start panning before I trip the shutter. As I’m panning, I’m also visualizing the horizon line (remember that the viewfinder is blacked out while the shutter is open) to achieve a level horizon.

 

Late Afternoon Light

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I made this image on my walk up Namsan on our last afternoon in Seoul. I had come to the mountain hoping to catch the twinkling city lights set against the afterglow of sunset, the way it had looked when a friend took us to dinner a couple of evenings before. But it was not to be. The prevailing winds had brought in an extreme haze over the course of the afternoon. Nonetheless, I was not displeased, for there were some interesting tones and silhouettes to gaze upon.

Late Afternoon, Seoul

Late Afternoon, Seoul

Photog Notes
To isolate a portion of the skyline, I used a longish focal length of 170mm. The shutter was tripped at 1/500 second with the aperture set to f/9.5, handheld. As with most of my pics, what you see is basically what I saw; “Fill the Frame” is a personal mantra. This image required very little processing – I only applied a teeny bit of contrast and tone adjustment to punch things up a bit.

 

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August 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Twin Tree Tower

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My trip to Seoul was bookended by very different weather: (very) cold and clear, then warm and (very) hazy. While wandering around the Insadong art district on the first day, we came across a pair of fabulous steel and glass structures with beautiful organic lines – the Twin Trees (aka Twin Tree Towers) by local architect Byoung Soo Cho. This is how Gattaca came about.

Gattaca

Gattaca

Photog Notes
The human eye is an amazing organ. It allows us to instantaneously alter focus from close to distant objects; it automatically compensates for extremes in brightness. The electronic eye is not as adept. With this image, the extremes in light levels meant that exposing for the details in the sky made the building a near silhouette. And capturing the beautiful flowing lines of the building made the sky go completely white. To solve the problem, I created two separate layers – one exposed for the sky, the other for the building – then manually blended the two together. A relatively simple solution, once I figured out what was required. 😉

Written by xinapray

August 12, 2011 at 11:35 pm

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