Passions

It’s been a while since my last post – closing in on 3 months to be precise. Throughout the 3-year lifetime of this blog, I’ve never managed to skip a month, until now. I would have otherwise been disappointed, if the culprit for my tardiness wasn’t my new passion in life – cycling. Over the last few months, I’ve decided to take cycling a bit more seriously and so I forked out a small fortune and bought myself a new shinny road bike. As a result, all the free time I had on the weekends is now being consumed by riding around and recovering in bed thereafter!

I am not disappointed though for 3 primary reasons. Firstly, it’s something that I really enjoy, which is the main reason as to why I picked up photography in the first place. So I don’t feel like I am cheating, as there is nothing wrong with sharing the love! Equally as important, is that I have now managed to visit places in Cyprus that I had never been to before. Given how I constantly moan on this blog that I need to go out and discover Cyprus, it seems that I have finally found my answer! Last but not least, I am finally learning how to be a morning person! Yes, cycling does that to you. I never thought I would be up at sunrise on the weekends. When I get up I am still really grumpy, but once I hop on that saddle, the sheer feeling of riding in the morning breeze is second to none.

This picture is from my trip to Milos this past May. Nothing beats island sunsets. Perhaps, my next post will be that of a sunrise, from a new place I bike to in Cyprus.

Milos Sunset - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 200, F14 at 1/100 sec.

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Panning the shot

Switching your camera to full manual or semi-manual mode, allows you to experiment in many creative ways. A prerequisite however is to have a basic understanding of the exposure triangle (ISO, Speed, Aperture) and how these 3 components can be used together to manipulate light.

Panning is a technique I’ve been itching to experiment with for a while now. Predominantly used in sports photography (and particularly car racing), this technique allows you to freeze a subject in motion while blurring the background. To achieve this effect, the subject should be moving laterally to your position, as was the case of this boy riding his bike on the beach in Ngapali Myanmar.

To shoot this photo, I switched my camera to speed priority (Tv on Canon cameras) – a setting which allows the photographer to manually adjust the shutter speed while letting the camera determine the appropriate aperture. Given how fast the boy was riding his bike, I dialled in an initial shutter speed of 1/25sec. I also switched the focus mode on my camera to AI Focus, which allows the camera to continually change focus as the subject is moving. I then tacked in my elbows holding the camera as closely as possible to my torso and followed the subject from right to left, taking a series of shots in burst mode.

Given that this was my first attempt at this technique, I can’t say I am disappointed. My dream however is to try this again perhaps in a Formula 1 or Nascar race!

Bicycle panning - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 400, F6.3 at 1/25 sec.

Burmese Fisherman

It’s been almost a month since I wrote on my blog. That may not seem that long, but for me it feels like ages. I have a personal target of 2-3 posts a month just to keep my momentum going. Photography for me is a way of getting away from the rigors of every day life – a way to escape. Unless I impose targets on myself, it is easy to get caught in my daily routine and neglect the things that matter the most.

April has been a quite challenging month work-wise and that has caused me not only to put my hobby aside, but to also neglect people that matter in my life. It is inexcusable I know. The only saving grace is the thought that this is in a way an anomaly – a one time event soon to be over that won’t become a frequent occurrence.

This is a picture of a poor Burmese fisherman, who’s gone out at sunset to catch some fish to feed his family. He lives in a make-shift shelter near the village of Thandwe in Myanmar. It is a picture that helps me put a lot of what I mentioned in perspective.

Ngapali Fisherman - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 800, F6.3 at 1/320 sec.

Water tides

Have you ever walked to a restaurant, only to find out that you have to swim back home? The restaurant in this picture belongs to the hotel we stayed at in Ngapali beach. It’s located just in front of the hotel, at the end of a long pier extending into the sea. Inconveniently, this restaurant (the “PVI” as it is known), closes at 9pm, so the latest reservation one can make is at 7pm. Getting there is a short walk, but at closing time the water tide floods the surrounding area, turning the inlet into a small island. Options are that you swim back, or wait for a shuttle boat to take you back to land. Quite the experience, but unfortunately the food there rates mediocre at best.

PVI Restaurant - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 800, F6.3 at 1/50 sec.

Ngapali Sunset

For a while now I’ve been itching to take a seascape shot at sunset, but never got around to it. I finally found the opportunity 2 weeks ago when I was on a business trip in Ngapali – a beach town on the west coast of Burma. Hearing prior to my trip that this location has one of the best beaches in the South East Asia region, I had my hopes high and thankfully I was not disappointed.

I generally try to travel light, but one of the compromises I never make is taking my trusty travel tripod – a key ingredient for this type of shots. Equally as key (though not 100% necessary), is a set of Neutral Density (ND) filters. For this shot I used a 3-stop solid ND filter to slow down my shutter speed, as well as a 2-stop ND grad filter to equalize the brightness of the sky with the foreground.

I arrived to take this shot about 20 minutes before sunset. As I was setting up my equipment knee-high in water, a young Burmese boy approached me and silently stood by, curious about what I was doing. I attempted to explain to him that I was taking a picture of the scenery but the response I got was a simple nod before he started pointing out the fish swimming in the water. He must have thought that my tripod was a fancy spear gun. I smiled in return knowing that it was all lost in translation.

Ngapali Sunset - 1920c

Shot with my Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F22, 0.6secs, w/ 0.9 solid ND and 0.6 ND grad filters.

Venice Sunset

Most photographers are suckers for a good sunset picture…and admittedly I am no different. What’s great about a sunset (and sunrises alike), is that during these so-called golden hours, the light is more diffuse thus reducing the hard shadows you would normally get in mid day. The colours also are much warmer, especially during twilight, and when combined with an interesting background (such as a cloudy sky), it makes landscape photographs even more compelling.

Getting a good one is no easy feat however. This is one of my many attempts at getting a decent sunset during my recent trip to Venice, Italy. Not sure I managed to get it right, especially given that I had no tripod and my camera had to rest on the side of a bridge!

Venice sunset - 1920c

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 200, F8.0 @ 6 secs (bracketed at -2/0/+2).

The ancient city of Bagan

A few months ago, if someone had asked me where Myanmar was, admittedly I would have struggled to pin-point it on the map. Upon visiting this country, I witnessed a place undiscovered to many tourists, traveled to by only few and somewhat daring individuals. At it’s heart, in the Mandalay region and roughly a one and a half hour flight from the old capital of Yangon, lies the ancient city of Bagan, one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. The city is famous in the region for its sheer number of temples and pagodas – roughly around 2200 which have survived today out of the 13000 that were originally built in the 11th to 13th centuries.

After my first trip to Myanmar back in early September, a number of locals advised me to find the time to visit this ancient city, promising a lifetime experience and a sight like nothing I had ever witnessed.  At first I was apprehensive, but a couple of colleagues convinced me to go and thankfully I did. It was a truly unique experience and I sincerely hope I get the chance to visit again.

These temples and pagodas are considered holy and as such you can only walk inside and around them completely barefoot, which made the task of taking this picture only that much challenging! After watching the sunset on a private boat cruise, we decided to head back to the hotel for some rest. As we were driving back, I started itching for an after-sunset picture of the skyline. We asked our guide to pull over at the nearest temple, and with flashlights on hand, we started to climb the top of the temple barefoot – a somewhat scary ordeal given that we had to walk on the steep rooftop of the temple on a 15 cm wide ledge, carrying a flashlight, tripod and camera. Thankfully we managed through, and I was happy to shoot the following picture during the twilight hour.

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200 F3.5-6.3 OS lens at ISO 100, F5.6 and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Bagan Temples Sunset - 1920cPS: I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year! See you all in 2013!