Category Archives: Photography

About focus, life and work

Paris Spring

I stress about focus a lot. Crisp images are my goal, one day, when I can afford gear to make them.
I usually don’t use post production sharpen tools. I find that they cheapen the photo and only fool amateurs.

The problem with low-end equipment (aka, affordable DSLR and lenses) is that it’s not very sharp. You can try and use only that one aperture point where your favorite lens takes the crispest photos or, like me, you swallow your pride and keep on taking the best photo you can take.

To me, swallowing the pride and posting anything that isn’t perfect is very hard. But if I didn’t I would have no public photos and would have stop photographing a long time ago.

Making photos encourages you to learn and thrive and take better photos each time. It’s the ONLY WAY to learn. You never stop learning.

When I look back I’m very glad I didn’t stop. I’m glad everyday for not giving up the previous day. Everyday.

I’m just a gal trying to capture light with a machine. I’m not perfect and my machine is not perfect either but that’s not stopping me. And it should not stop you either.

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First photos using two polarizing filters as a neutral density filter

Aka “Homemade” Neutral Density Filter

Pont Saint-Michel

View of Pont Saint-Michel, Paris.

In the beginning of the month I wrote about Neutral Density Filters and how expensive it was to get them shipped to France so I decided to follow this article that talked about creating your own with two polarizing filters. I ordered the filters and they arrived safely to my door last week. Yay! for post office efficiency!

Île de la Cité

Woman walking in Île de la Cité, Paris.

Last weekend I tried them on and this is what I learned:

- You will need a “Circular Polarizing Filter” and a “Linear Polarizing Filter”. I got mine at eBay for about €29 from 2 different vendors. The “CPF” was €20 and if from a German brand named Hoya and the “LPF” was €9 and is made by Rowi;

- You have to screw them to your lens in the correct order -> First the “CPF” and then the “LPF”, or else it doesn’t work;

- Mount your camera in a tripod – You will need this because you’re about to do very long exposures;

- Focus your camera, switch it to manual focus after, if you use Auto Focus;

- Turn the filters until you get your viewfinder black, like you would get if you had your lens cap on;

- Switch the camera to manual and start experimenting. -> For these first photos you can see here I used 30 seconds exposures with a small aperture. I could have opted to do shorter exposures with a wider aperture but that would defeat the purpose, which was to have the buildings in focus while the movement of the people (and the water, in the Saint-Michel bridge) was captured and did a sort of “swoosh effect” (this is a technical term, “swoosh”…);

- As expected, the color aberrations where severe. I had to apply a black and white blue filter in post processing. Surprisingly though, not much more needed postprocessing. I’m very happy with the first results!

#193 - Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris filled with people walking by.

Alas, it started to rain so I had to pack up my gear. Next time I’ll try to do it on a dryer day.

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About HDR photos

Report HDR Abuse

Image by: Keith Loh – Licence: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

“Friends don’t let friends do HDR.” – Lewis Collard

Everybody that knows me knows that I dislike HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures. I dislike it because it looks bad, most of the time. I’ve seen one or two HDR photos that look cool but I’ve seen thousands that look appalling.

I don’t think that people should be bashed when they do HDR photos but I do think that I need to express my disgust because sometimes newbies feel so fascinated by these novelty gimmicks that they lose themselves forever in a sea of mediocrity.

So, my advice is this:

- Use your time to get to know your camera in detail;
- Study traditional composition;
- Learn more about light;
- Take at least a photo a day;
- Don’t rely on post production to make great photos;
- Trust yourself.

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Breaking the Rule of Thirds – Friday’s Pictures

Friday’s Pictures is a recurring topic that features excellent photos by several photo artists and it revolves around a theme each week.

This week the theme is Breaking the Rule of Thirds.
The rule of thirds is one of the first things you became aware as a young photographer or visual artist. It’s a rule that helps you in the composition of your pictures to make them instantly more pleasing to the eye by arranging the elements of the picture along some of the four lines, instead of just centering the subject.
This picture ilustrates this concept very well:

Rule of Thirds

Photo by: Moondigger | License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic

You can read more about it in this Wikipedia article.

These next photos, although not abandoning altogether the concept of rule of thirds, are great examples of beautiful pictures that somewhat break the rule. Enjoy!

Forever Texas

Photo by: John Mueller | License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

bay bridge across troubled waters

Photo by: Darwin Bell | License: Attribution 2.0 Generic

IN DESERT

Photo by: A. RB | License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

El Porto, California

Photo by: Pedro Szekely | License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
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Self Portraits

Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a narcissist, maybe it’s because of my old compulsion to document everything (you can read more about that here) or maybe because I have no one else taking my picture but I really like self portraits.

looking for the self

Photo above by: [phil h] | License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I like to take them and I enjoy looking at other people’s too. Creative people always take the best self portraits.

Car Ride 18/30

Photo above by: ex.libris | License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

To take a good self portrait you have to be comfortable with your camera and with yourself. To do that you need to take a lot of them. Just pick up your camera and point it at yourself or at any reflecting surface and then SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT!

me bored again

Photo above by: Hrabina von Tup Tup | License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

You can also use a tripod and a timer for a more polished portrait.

Try different camera angles (above your head, at eye level, etc.) different facial expressions (silly ones will make you laugh and you can just erase them later if you don’t like them), strange places, with your friends, different reflective surfaces, etc..

Maybe I Wrote in Invisible Ink

Photo above by: Thomas Hawk | License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Bisoux

Photo above by: Helga Weber | License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Express your mood. Say something about yourself with it. Have fun.

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People Watching

People watchingIt took me sometime to point the camera at people.
I had mini moo business cards made just in case I had to justify what I was doing to someone. They have my name, phone number, e-mail and the portfolio website.
One of the reasons is that I live in Paris and I don’t speak French. At least not good enough French to justify to an angry person what am I doing taking their picture without permission.
People watching
The other reason is that I’m horribly self-conscious.
While taking pictures of people I cheat most of the time. In the metro, for instance, I tend to take pictures of people in the next carriage or in the opposite running train. That way I make sure I’m not going to be confronted by a mean little old Parisian lady.
Also, I feel like I gave them life in a way. Not to the people themselves but to the characters that appear frozen in my viewfinder. They didn’t exist in my world nor in yours. Now they do and you see a glimpse of their imaginary lives. In this instance, I prefer to have only a few seconds to take the picture. This photo becomes a picture of a volatile moment captured.

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