Rusty old bus

This is a picture of an old Ford bus which has been left abandoned for years now on the side of a street in the village of Kalopanayiotis. As a kid I used to spend weeks at a time in the summer with my grandparents at our cottage in Kalopanayiotis. In fact on numerous occasions I had to take this type of bus (if not this actual one) to and from Nicosia. It definitely brings back old memories so every time I walked by it, I always felt that I had to return one day with my camera for a capture.

Rusty cars in general are best captured in HDR as the technique highly exaggerates the texture and creates somewhat of a surreal look which was what I was aiming for. It also worked really well with the texture of the tarmac, which I used as a leading line in my composition.

Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D, Sigma F3.5-6.3 18-200mm lens, at ISO 100, F22 and bracketed at -2/0/+2. Processed in Photomatix with some adjustments to levels and curves in Photoshop.


Sea Caves

The most frequently photographed scenery on the eastern part of the island of Cyprus is without a doubt Cavo Greco. As a teenager I remember visiting the nearby Sea Caves with my friends, always competing to prove our manhood by jumping off the 20 meter cliff straight into the crystal clear waters. An exhilarating adrenaline pumping (and relatively stupid) act, but the bragging rights that followed made it all worthwhile!

This weekend, I had a chance to visit the Caves again but this time with a different agenda in mind. This time around I wanted to capture the scenery with my camera in a way that is different from all the “I love Cyprus” postcards you can buy at your local souvenir shop.

I got there about an hour before sunset and started scouting the area for a good vantage point. I “worked the scene” so to speak for a good 40 minutes, took a dozen pictures but to my dismay nothing seemed to pop out at me. I was just about to give up when I turned around and saw the following scene. I literally had to place my tripod inches from the edge of the cliff. I kneeled down and screwed on my ND4 filter, allowing me to slow down my shutter speed to almost 2 secs.

Taken with my Canon 60D and my Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 IS lens at 18mm, F22 (for max depth of field), ISO 100 and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

This is a good opportunity for me to share 3 tips that I find invaluable when taking pictures with a tripod-mounted camera in low light conditions:

1) If your lens supports Image Stabilization (a.k.a. Vibration Reduction or Optical Stabilisation) then you must turn it OFF. That feature is helpful in low light conditions when the camera is hand-held. When tripod mounted, the mechanism in fact introduces vibration as it tries to compensate for the non-existing vibrations that it assumes there might be.

2) If your camera allows you to lock your mirror, then go ahead and do so. The mirror is a moving part during shutter release and it does introduce vibration! Enabling Live View mode automatically locks the mirror too, otherwise you will need to disable it manually from the function settings.

3) Always, always use a remote cable release. If you don’t have one, then try setting the timer on your camera, press the button and move back.

Light Paintings

I decided to call my blog “Light Paintings”. For me, these two simple words perfectly describe the art of photography. A photograph is nothing more than a blank canvas painted on with light – the photographer’s tool equivalent of a paint brush or crayons.

In fact there is an entire technique in photography dedicated to light painting using a variety of artificial light sources such as a flashlights, LED lights etc. The technique is simple – position yourself in a dark room, set up your tripod mounted camera for long shutter speeds (e.g. by setting your camera to Bulb Mode), trigger the shutter open, use a light source to paint your picture, then close the shutter. Simple as pie, but the results can be astonishing and the creative possibilities are endless.

Last night, was the first night in over a week with no Euro football matches on TV. Being bored to death and seeing that I could not get over the beer addiction I had developed in the previous days, I decided to set up the following shot. It’s by no means a work of art, but given that it took me just under 5 mins to compose, execute and process, I believe it proves my point.

Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens, in Manual mode, ISO 100, F11 with a 20″ exposure. Only adjustment made in Photoshop was to increase the Blacks slider to darken the background.

Chicago skyline

Back in September 2008, myself and a few friends decided to take a flight from Toronto and spend the long weekend in Chicago. This was the view from the balcony of the condo that we had rented.

Luckily I had my gorilla pod, which I ended up fastening on the balcony rail (a bit scary but it worked). Taken with my Canon Rebel XTi and my Canon F1.8 50mm prime lens, at F10, ISO 100, bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Understanding Exposure

I remember my first digital camera – a tiny Canon Elph S230 3.2MP point and shoot which was years ahead of its time in terms of quality and portability. Using that camera (or any point & shoot for that matter) is simple as pie – you just frame your picture on the LCD display (or viewfinder) and click.

My old Canon Elph – RIP

 It was not until I upgraded to a Digital SLR (or DSLR) and dedicated the time to read the user manual front to back, that I finally understood its creative potential. It was really an eye-opener for me because even though as a kid I owned an analogue SLR (you know, those ancient looking boxes that worked with film), I never actually spent the time to explore its full potential.

My Canon 60D DSLR

With an SLR, composition is still the key ingredient, but you gain significant control over the exposure settings. Understanding the exposure triangle (Speed, Aperture, ISO) and the effects of changing any combination of those, is what really got me hooked with photography – the possibilities are truly endless.

This morning, I was browsing a few websites and came across this article on understanding exposure:

This for me sums everything up, and I highly recommend reading this if you own an SLR and still shoot using the auto settings. If this stings your curiosity enough, then there is an endless library of books on how to take your skills to a whole new level.

A great book that I highly recommend is the “Digital SLR handbook” written by John Freeman. Anyone in Cyprus interested in reading this, I would be more than happy to lend it to you.


This past December, Daria and I spent a weekend in Drousha, near the Akamas Peninsula on the western part of the island. Being so close to Latsi, we decided to head there on Sunday for some fresh fish. After stuffing ourselves with large quantities of food, we decided to take a stroll around the area, when I luckily stumbled upon a bunch of surfboards on the beach side.

This is a High Dynamic Range (HDR) picture, which is essentially a composite of 3 separate pictures taken at different exposure levels (normal, underexposed, overexposed) and then merged in post-production. I used this technique to exaggerate the boldness of the clouds without sacrificing the detail of my subject. In my mind, I was trying to produce a single image emphasizing the contrast between summer and winter.

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D, Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 lens at 18mm, ISO 100, F9 and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Exploring Astro Photography

I was invited a few weekends ago to join a couple of astronomy enthusiasts up in the mountains (Amiantos area) for some night-sky watching. After recently having read a couple of tutorials on star trail techniques, I was itching to give it a try.

For this first picture, I located the North Star (Polaris) just before it got completely dark. I set my camera with my Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens on my trusty tripod and took a couple of pictures to make sure my composition was correct. After being satisfied that I had everything where I wanted them to be, I set my camera to Manual mode and dialed my settings to ISO 400, F2.8 with a 30 sec exposure. What followed was an excruciating hour and a half, where I manually took 140 consecutive pictures using my remote cable release (guess who just ordered an intervalometer!). These images were later stacked together using a simple freeware program I downloaded from and then imported the image into Photoshop for some minor touches (contrast and sharpness).

The second picture was taken facing South East – same settings, slightly less painful shooting procedure as I only took about 75 images. 

Overall I must admit that I am pretty happy with the outcome. Key takeaways from this exercise however are:
1) A trusty intervalometer (though not a must) is definitely good to have. You just set it and then hide in your car with a warm cup of coffee while it’s doing its job. It’s not very costly (30-50 euros will get you a decent one), and it can be used not just for astro photography but for time lapse videos as well.
2) Dress warm! I completely underestimated the weather that night. Even though it was the end of May, temperatures up in the mountains can be as low as 5-6 C during the night. A warm jacket and a pair of gloves are definitely a must!

Smoke Photography

One of my favourite websites for photography is the Digital Photography School (DPS). I must admit that most of the inspiration I get is from the wealth of information shared by both professionals and amateurs on this site’s forums.

This past October, I was reading an “Introduction to Smoke Photography” article, written by Amar Ramesh. The pictures posted by Amar were simply stunning and the technique he had used seemed fairly trivial. I was certainly intrigued by how the combination of the element of smoke, with still pictures could create such a dynamic effect. So I gave it a go..I went to a local artwork store, bought myself some black cardboard, spent a couple of hours at home taking some shots and voila!

Coffee Mug Red smoke - c

Smoking cow final - 1920c

If you want to read more on this technique, here is the link to Amar’s article on DPS.

Limassol Pier

I was in Limassol this past February for the carnival celebrations. I visit Limassol fairly often, but this time around I decided to take my camera with me to capture some of the beautiful sunsets by the beach. While walking down the beach side, I noticed this pier extending into the water. Luckily, there were only a few people on the pier at the far end, exactly where I wanted them to be. I quickly set up my tripod and bracketed 3 shots to create this HDR. I chose to create an HDR so that I could emphasize the boldness of the clouds as well as the texture of the wooden walkway.

Shot with my Canon 60D, at F16 bracketed at -2/0/+2. HDR processed in Photomatix with some minor contrast adjustments and sharpening in Photoshop.