Cool Saxophone player in Sicily

The Piazza IX April in Taormina has one the most stunning views seen from a Piazza. Happy people are walking around, shooting photos, and a couple of bands were playing music. (I do love having live music when I shoot photos). And this saxophone player, was fantastic. Sitting on his chair playing the most gorgeous saxophone. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

Notice the cool saphone player having a fantastic time.

The Piazza IX April in Taormina on Sicily has one the most stunning views over the bay of Naxos. The whole Piazza is like a balcony with a gorgeous view. Happy people are walking around, shooting photos (many selfies too), and a couple of bands were playing music. (I do love having live music when I shoot photos). And this saxophone player, was fantastic. Sitting on his chair playing, he just made this evening magic. He probably makes every evening magic, come to think of it.

About the making of this photo

I had been standing on this staircase shooting some photos, when I suddenly noticed the saxophone player, and just knew he was the primary subject for my photo. I shot it using my brand new Sony A6000 and my Sony 10-18mm lens.

I bought the A6000 because of the combination of a great camera in a small body. My other camera bodies are Sony A7R, Nikon D800 and Nikon D600. All are phenomenal cameras, and the Sony A6000 is the kid brother in this lot. But I wanted a small super light weight camera and I wanted to see what I could get out of it, and I was not disappointed. It produces fantastic quality images. I just have to be careful on the ISO. It is a smaller sensor than the others, and it can not shoot at as high an ISO as the other cameras. However, as you can see, it can perfectly easy be used when shooting at night using a tripod.

The EXIF info for this image is ISO 100, f/7.1 and the exposure times for the three HDR shots are: 0,6 seconds (-2 exposure), 2.5 seconds (0 exposure) and 10 seconds (+2 exposure).

In short – the Sony A6000 is a fantastic camera. Of course I can tell the difference to my Sony A7R, but never the less a great camera in an incredible small body.

Artistic freedom

Don't worry, River Thames was just as muddy as ever. One of the reasons I love post-processing so much is because I can do whatever I like. I am not married to reality, like a documentarist. I am an artist. I process my photos until I get something I like. I don't particularly like a muddy river, and the blue one looks much better. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

A long exposure photo of the London Tower Bridge just around sunset.

Don’t worry, River Thames was just as muddy as ever. One of the reasons I love post-processing so much is because I can do whatever I like. I am not married to reality, like a documentarist. I am an artist. I process my photos until I get something I like. I don’t particularly like a muddy river, and the blue one looks much better.

But how did I make the water blue?

I made a virtual copy of the image in Lightroom. I now had two identical photos. On one, I started to play with the HSL panel to make the water blue. This made the rest of the image look terrible, but that’s OK, that is why I made a virtual copy.

When I was happy with the water, I selected both images, and exported them to Photoshop as Layers, and then I blended the water into the normal photo, and the result is this image.

I just had to go and see the Bellagio in Las Vegas

This location I recognized from the movie Oceans Eleven. It's the spot they gathered at the end of the movie, looking at the Bellagio. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

The final scene of Oceans 11 is shot at this location.

When I was in Las Vegas I just had to find this location from the movie Oceans Eleven. It’s the spot they gathered at the end of the movie, looking at the Bellagio. It’s right in front the Bellagio, it was not difficult to find. I really love going to places, that are famous or recognizable. I once travelled all the way to Bruges, just because I had seen the movie ‘In Bruges’. A movie that is hated by some, but I loved in. Colin Farrell is as negative, as he can possibly be, and the only thing he is basically looking for, is a beer, in town he hates. But the town is so beautiful, that I just had to go and shoot it.

Near Venice Corner in the medieval town Bruge, Belgium, you find this beautiful view. Along with Amsterdam it's called the Venice of the north and it really is. Photo by Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

In the movie ‘In Bruges’ they stayed at the white hotel you can just see at the right hand side.

The Famous View from Rialto Bridge

Crossing the Rialto Bridge is a must do experience when visiting Venice. And if you have the option to plan it, try to do it at sunset. The houses along Canal Grande look just awesome with the lights and colors. Stay and watch the traffic for a while. Gondolas, Varporettos, taxi boats, and ordinary people cruising in their small speed boats. It's a very busy area. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

The famous view of Canal Grande seen from the Rialto Bridge.

Crossing the Rialto Bridge is a must do experience when visiting Venice. And if you have the option to plan it, try to do it at sunset. The houses along Canal Grande look just awesome with the lights and colors. Stay and watch the traffic for a while. Gondolas, Varporettos, taxi boats, and ordinary people cruising in their small speed boats. It’s a very busy area, the bridge itself included.

This photo I shot using my 24-70mm Sony Zeiss lens attached to my Sony A7R. As you can see, the light is fading quickly, but I really didn’t want a long exposure. Opened the lens to it’s maximum, which is ‘only’ f/4, and then I cranked up the ISO to 2500. I got a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the three gondolas navigating.

I shot it as a 3 shot HDR photo, but the gondolas and for the water and boats, I only used the one exposure, the middle one. The bright exposure is too long, and the boats get blurry, and the dark was, well too dark.

Steampunk Balloon Wagon seen from a low vantage point

Steampunk is a cool fantasy world. What if the world hadn't evolved into the modern Information Technology world, it is today, would it have evolved into Steampunk? You can find this particular Steampunk balloon car in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, a fairytale amusement park. The second oldest in the World. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

The fairytale amusement park Tivoli Gardens, in the center of Copenhagen, holds many small wonders, like this fantastic steampunk car.

I always carry a camera around with me and a small tripod in a very small bag. On a daily basis my normal or even my travel tripods are too big to carry around, and I just have a small Manfrotto tripod. If used carefully, it can be used  even by my Nikon D800 and the huge 14-24 mm lens.

I must admit, that from time to time, I get shots, I wouldn’t have thought of, but are provoked by my small tripod, and these couple of photos from Tivoli Gardens are fine examples of this.

This small alley is my favority part of Tivoli Gardens, not only because the 'Kissing Bench' used to be there. Actually, I don't know if it's still there, maybe it is. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

A small alley with a beer garden, small shops and great candy. Is there anything better?

Notice how small lines suddenly play a huge part in leading the view up through the alley. Had the camera been higher, the lines would have been less obvious. Using these lines can be really powerful, and this is a stronger example of using very small lines.

Going really close to objects, can change the perspective, and make things seem different tham they are. An optical joke. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

I arrived too early at work, the day after they had changed the alarm, and I couldn’t get in. Instead I took out my camera and the small tripod, and started shooting. It is the Tivoli Hotel right in the middle. The hotel is placed close to Tivoli Gardens, but not in the garden itself.

I did cheat a little bit on the hotel in the middle. It wasn’t symmetric to begin with, and it seemed wrong. And by a simple mirroring trick I made it symmetric, and it was a dramatic change. Now every line in the image points to Tivoli Hotel.

Lamp posts at Piazza San Marco

I just love Piazza San Marco, even during the crowded daytime hours. Photography of course is difficult, when there are many people, but it is a very beautiful place. And in the morning, it's just stunning, and the people have almost disappeared. Believe it or not, I did not clone any people out of this one. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

I ran around Piazza San Marco to capture as many shots as possible with this georgeous light.

I just love Piazza San Marco, even during the crowded daytime hours. Photography, of course, is difficult when there are many people, but it is a very beautiful place. And in the morning, it’s just stunning, and the people have almost disappeared. Believe it or not, I did not clone any people out of this one. I did have to clone out a number of dust bins and garbage. However, the Venezians put a lot of pride in keeping their large piazzas clean.

Poor conditions push creativity

In the midst of London, you can experience new and old blend together in a futuristic vision. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

London Tower Bridge and London City Hall shot on a rainy night. See the original image further down.

For some reason, I always find myself much more creative, when I come home with photos shot under difficult conditions. A particular evening like this in London had a light drizzle. Not a lot of rain, but enough to get the ground wet, and the lights reflect a bit. That can turn out pretty awesome.

Continue reading “Poor conditions push creativity”

Using Sony A7R with Nikon Lenses

I got up early to walk along Christianshavns Canal in Copenhagen. There are some of the very nice spots, and some of the best restaurants in Copenhagen there. It may look like smoke from the chimney, but in reality it is a hole in the sky, that just fits the chimney.  Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

Christianshavn Canal in Copenhagen shot using Sony A7R and Nikon 16-35mm VR and the Metabones adaptor.

I really have a love and hate relationship with my Sony A7R. I love the size of the camera, and the sensor is fantastic. What I am missing is proper lenses. I have the 24-70mm lens, which I am pretty happy with, and then I have the Sony 10-18mm. The 10-18mm is designed for APS-C sensor cameras, but I can use it as a full frame lens, from 14-16mm or so. However, I do find it so bad used as a full frame lens, that I don’t use it like that. It’s terrible soft in the corners, and it gives me mustache distortion, which is next to impossible to get a decent result from. I use it ‘cropped’, which leaves me with 15.3-megapixel images, which I, of course, can use, but I really want to use the 36 megapixels I have in my camera.

Since I don’t have a money tree in my garden, I haven’t bought the Sony 16-35mm, but it is on my wish list. Instead, I end up using a Metabones adapter and my Nikon lenses if I want to go really wide. In theory, this works very nicely, but it is not perfect. I have no auto focus, this I can live with in most cases. What’s worse, is that I don’t get the EXIF information transferred from the lens to the camera. While this may seem less important, at first, it still is very frustrating.

A photo like this one from Christianshavns Canal in Copenhagen, I shot in November, but I don’t recall the focal length or the f-stop anymore. I do remember that I used my Nikon 16-35mm VR lens. This lens has a pretty strong barrel distortion, which I have to fix on photos like this. But I can’t use automatic lens correction, neither, instead I have to do it manually. What I have done to make things easier for me, is to make this a Preset in Lightroom, with a manual lens correction. This is a good start, but at different f-stops and focal lengths, I have to change the settings slightly.

I always carry the A7R and the 24-70mm and the 10-18mm lens in my bag, because it’s so small that I can have it in a very small bag. But when I go out shooting for real, I have not used it a lot. This particular morning I only brought the Sony A7R and the Nikon 16-35mm, to force me to use it. But I really prefer to use my Nikon D800 for serious shooting.

But there has been a turn lately. I found a super clamp from Manfrotto, which I can screw on my tripod, and that allows me to use TWO cameras at the same time. And that is something. I now have my Nikon D800 mounted on the primary ball head and on the Manfrotto Super Clamp I have the Sony A7R, and then I have two different lenses and different compositions. This is awesome:

IMG_7891

 

I got my Manfrotto Super Clamp at B&H, and it’s really not that expensive. It’s called a Manfrotto Super Clamp 035 with a stud.

 

Jackpot on an Early Morning in Copenhagen

These crazy clouds are almost straight out of the camera. This sunrise, is one of the craziest I have ever seen, and the weirdest part, is that I never saw the Sun itself. I saw it shine on the city behind me, but before it got clear of the horizon, it disappeared behind clouds. I shot this photo from Skuespilhuset and it shows Operahuset (The Opera House) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com. Licensed Creative Commons, Non-Commercial, no derivatives v4.0.

A wild sunrise at the Opera House of Copenhagen photographed at the very climax of it’s stunning beauty. Processed using Photomatix and Photoshop.

Getting up really early can be hard, but I find that I am often rewarded by unique experiences, worth getting to experience. A particular morning like this morning started with a drizzle. It was close to pitch dark, and pretty overcast when I started out. The first images I shot, I assumed to almost just dark clouds. But as I processed them in Photomatix very interesting colors appeared in the clouds. The first colors of a wild sunrise, already played around in the clouds.

One of the major sites in lies in the heart of Copenhagen. It's called Nyhavn and means New Harbor. This is just before sunrise, before the neon lights are shut off. Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com

I thought it was almost pitch dark when I shot this image of Nyhavn in Copenhagen, but tone mapping provides wonderful surprises, by enhancing even the smallest hints of colors. In this case traces of purple and pink in the clouds.

Continue reading “Jackpot on an Early Morning in Copenhagen”

Visiting Milan by Accident – and saw One for Greco

We visited Milan quite by accident. Milan has some pretty awesome things to photograph. I really love these vintage trams. I saw this one on the way back to the hotel. Anyway, how do you get to Milan by accident? Well, we had planned a train trip to Venice, but there was a train strike in Germany, and we had to find other means of transport to get to Venice. As it turned out, plane tickets were insanely expensive to Venice, on the dates that matched our hotel booking. While plane tickets for Milan, on the other hand, were quite cheap. If we stayed for the night on our way to Venice and back again, we got everything included for the same price, as the refunded train tickets.  Photo by: Jacob Surland, www.caughtinpixels.com Licensed creative commons non-commercial v4.0. No derivative Work. Protected by Pixsy.com.

This photo is a ‘pseudo HDR’ photo, which means that I have processed it like an HDR, but only from a single exposure. To get the best result, I prefer to make 2 virtual copies in Lightroom, so that I have a -2, 0 and +2. The lightest one will be very noise, especially because I shot this at ISO 800. I crank up the noise reduction all the way to the top on the light one, and the other ones moderately high.

We visited Milan quite by accident. Milan has some pretty awesome things to photograph. I really love these vintage trams. I saw this one on the way back to the hotel.

But how do you get to Milan by accident? Well, we had planned a train trip to Venice, but there was a train strike in Germany, and we had to find other means of transport to get to Venice. As it turned out, plane tickets were insanely expensive to Venice, on the dates that matched our hotel booking. While plane tickets for Milan, on the other hand, were quite cheap. If we stayed for the night on our way to Venice and back again, we got everything included for the same price, as the refunded train tickets.

Milan turned out to have some pretty awesome places to photograph, like the ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II’ shopping mall. It’s one the oldest shopping malls in the world, and definitely worth a visit! The same goes for the Milan Cathedral.