Kalopanagiotis Bridge

This past weekend, I decided to take a break from scuba diving (that has more or less consumed every one of my weekends for the last 4 months), and headed up to the mountains for a change of scenery. Nothing beats going up to my family cottage with the company of good friends, and spending 2 days of playing board games, watching movies, walking the nature trails and cooking loads of food.

This is a picture of an old bridge taken near the well known sulphur springs of Kalopanagiotis. I mounted both my ND2 and my ND4 filter on my Sigma 18-200 lens, to slow down my shutter speed and capture the flow of water. Taken with my tripod-mounted Canon 60D camera at F22, ISO 100 at 2 seconds.

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Rusty Truck

Another rusty truck left abandoned in a field near Kalopanayiotis. Cars in such an advanced state of decomposition make great subjects for photography , and especially HDR photography. What is mind boggling in Cyprus however, is the sheer number of such cars that are simply dumped by their owners wherever they feel like, rather than being taken in for recycling.

Shot with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 IS lens, at ISO 100, F5.0 and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

PS: I will be away on a business trip for the next two weeks and most likely unable to post on my blog. What I can say however, is that I have really high expectations from this trip photography-wise…stay tuned!

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.

Surfboards

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 www.startrails.de 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!

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.