Let there be light!

Staying in Nicosia on a blistering hot Saturday morning, is definitely quite painful. With nothing else to do, I decided to stay in, put the A/C on max and keep myself entertained with another photography project. This weekend’s inspiration comes from another one of my favourite photographers/tutors – Gavin Hoey. Gavin has an excellent website with lots of tips and tricks on photography, but unlike many others, his tutorials apart from teaching you various photography techniques, they take it a step further by teaching you how to best enhance or manipulate these images in Photoshop.

Over the last few months I’ve started learning various post production techniques in both Photoshop and Lightroom. Even though I am a big proponent of getting everything right in camera, there is definitely value in learning how to use these tools, either to overcome the various limitations of cameras e.g. colour saturation, incorrect exposure readings etc, or to simply manipulate images to create some artistic results. After-all, post production has been around as long as cameras, only difference is that in the older days things used to be done in dark rooms instead!

The cool thing about this project, was the fact that I had to put my electrical wiring skills to work, so that I could control the intensity of the bulb using a dimmer switch. After I managed that (see link), I took a picture of the lit bulb, a separate image of the bottom part of the bulb, and then imported everything into Photoshop for some basic manipulation – essentially fit the two together, making the bulb seem as if not wired at all….and here is the result!

Light Bulb2 - 1920c

Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D, 24-70mm F2.8L lens, ISO 100, F8.0 at 1/8 sec.


Photographing the Milky Way (Part 1)

Last Saturday was a dark moonless night, making it an ideal night for astronomers and astro-photographers, to head out into the wilderness and stare at the night sky. For me this was my third outing of this kind, with the first attempt being over a year ago when I managed to capture the Polaris star trail. Since then I’ve been itching to give astro photography another try, only this time try and capture a near space object such as a star cluster or galaxy. Perhaps the easiest to photograph, primarily due to its sheer size and proximity to Earth, is our own galaxy – the Milky Way.

The picture below shows a portion of the Milky Way, which given the time of the year, its spiral arch can occupy a significant portion of the night sky. Below, is my friend Philippos – a buddy of mine who got me hooked into spending Saturday nights in the freezing cold out in the wilderness! He himself has invested a ton of money to purchase his telescope kit, which we are able to use to take pictures of deep space objects (by mounting the camera directly onto the telescope, effectively replacing the eye piece) and of near space objects (by piggybacking a second DSLR camera on top of the telescope). The telescope itself has an equatorial mount which when aligned correctly, it tracks the rotation of the earth, making both mounting methods quite effective since you are able to eliminate any star trails.

This picture however was taken with my camera mounted onto my tripod, and setting my exposure time to 20 secs. Any longer than that (given that I was using my 24-70 mm lens at the wide angle end) would have resulted in star trails – something that we wanted to avoid. To make Philippos stand out, I asked him to stand still, then used a red flashlight to effectively paint him into the picture.

Suffice to say that with warmer nights to come, I will be giving this technique several more tries. It is by no means an easy ordeal as there are a lot of technical variables to account for (more on that in a future post), so all I can do is read up and practice, practice, practice!

Astronomer - 1920c

Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D, and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 1600, F2.8, 20 second exposure.

Light Paintings turns a year old!

Wow – it’s already been a year! Never really thought this blog would make it this far. Chances were I was going to lose interest after the first couple of posts, but 44 posts/pictures later here we are. Looking back at this year I must say that keeping the blog up-to-date with new pictures has really helped me stay motivated, and dedicated in my hobby. As to whether I’ve improved as a photographer, only you can be the judge of that, all I know is that there is still a lot of work to be done.

On the occasion of this anniversary (which also marks the first half of 2013), I have decided to reflect on my New Year’s resolutions, and see how far I’ve gotten against the goals I’ve set at the beginning of this year.

  • Explore Cyprus (take 3 pictures depicting life in Cyprus): Technically not doing so well here. I’ve taken a couple of shots (Oak tree, Protaras Pier and the Windmill), which with the exception of perhaps the Windmill, the rest have been of places that were a bit too familiar to me. Still need to get out there and explore!
  • Long Exposures (2 pictures particularly in B&W): Done! Started off experimenting with my trip to Petra tou Romiou,  and then managed to get a decent pic of the Protaras Pier. I am really growing fond of this technique, so I will definitely keep experimenting.
  • New Types of Photography (try out 3 new types): Getting there. Managed to try out Studio portrait photography and I’ve taken a crack at deep space photography (not posted anything yet cause of my initial failed attempt), but some work still to be done here.
  • Frame a picture: Surprisingly done! My picture of the Lake Boat is now proudly hanging in my bedroom. Still need to place a floating frame around it to better fit the size of the wall, but its a done deal and here is the proof!

Overall not a bad first half of the year. Looking forward to the next 6 months, hopefully managing to exceed my goals!

On this occassion, I’ve decided to post an old picture that I’ve taken about a year ago in the old part of Limassol, of an old house window.

Old Limassol Window - 1920c

Shot with my tripod-mounted Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm 3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 100, F11, 1/15 sec and bracketed at -2/0/+2.