Tag Archives: Photography

Southwick Beach Sunset

Southwick Beach Sunset
Southwick Beach Sunset

It was April 8; Four rather restless photographers followed the setting of the sun to Southwick Beach Park in hopes of catching an amazing sunset. Being one of those photographers, I too got wrapped up in the moment searching for a good sunset shot. After pacing back and forth a long the beach front and some of the surrounding area looking for a good place to set up my tripod I selected the one  which allowed me to compose the trunk of a partially submerged tree and some driftwood into the same scene.

The waters of Lake Ontario had become choppy and started to churn more violently as the sun started to set and the sand from the beach began migrating in small wisps as the wind of the lake kicked-up. Reluctant to leave until I had captured the image that I wanted, I remained at my camera, shivering occasionally, in spite of the rapidly dropping temperatures, dwindling day light and inhospitable conditions.The result after more than two weeks of editing, walking away and editing again is the image in this post of the Southwick Beach Sunset. Although, I have been told that it is a beautiful capture, I still feel that I have not captured the essence of that sunset. But, I guess that is just me.

The Importance of White Blance

If you are like most photographers, your white balance is set to auto – job well done! For most cameras, if your white balance is set on auto white balance, then your camera will be correct 95% of the time. What happens for the extra 5%? Well your camera can be fooled! The best solution for this of course is to understand white balance and what role it plays in adjusting the colors in you final image. Below, I will attempt to explain the importance of white balance and how an uncalibrated white balance setting can throw your image off.

A camera measures white balance in Kelvin. The Kelvin temperature scale is correlated to the colour intensity of a an object. Interestingly, in Kelvin, the warmer the temperature gets the more it approaches blue. Direct sunlight in camera terms is around 5200 Kelvin and cloudy is considered around  6000 Kelvin. So, I know your first question – why is a cloudy scene considered warmer than a sunny day? Well, if you have a look at the image below you will notice where cloudy, daylight  and other white balances fall.

Kelving Scale White Balance
Kelvin Scale White Balance

Because cloudy days appear bluer than warmer direct sunlit days it is considered warmer.  To understand why this happens, you have to know that Kelvin was developed to determine the temperature of hot objects which radiate light like metal being forged or stars twinkling. These are objects which are physically hot and thus radiate different colours of the spectrum. And, based on our scale,  because cloudy days appear bluer compared to sunny days to a camera then it  is considered warmer.

To correct the effects of either too much blue or too much red, the camera applies a colour to counteract the dominant temperature colour. So, for a too blue setting, the camera applies more yellow and orange.  Similarly for a too orange scene, the camera applies a blue setting to counteract. That is pretty much what happens in the camera.

Now, as I said before, if you have your camera set on auto white balance, you are pretty much set. However, if you have a scene which may include different light sources like an incandescent light with light coming in from a window then the simple whitet balance  pre-sets provided by our cameras will not suffice. Further, if you have light which is being transformed as it passes through a translucent layer like a coloured curtain, or painted glass you will have different types of colour casts being formed. That is the time to take a grey card or white card to properly set your white balance. I would explain how that is done  but I would not be able to keep the instructions completely camera agnostic. This is best explained through your camera’s manual. However, when it comes to capturing accurate skin tones when different light temperatures are introduced into a scene, it is important to properly calibrate your white balance for your camera to get the right  look to your images.

Below I have provided two images – one before white balance adjustments shot with the incandescent setting on the camera and the other after white balance adjustments. The light source provided is a lamp which is covered by a beige shade which is off to the left.

Before white balance adjustments
Before White Balance Adjustments
After white balance adjustments
After White Balance Adjustments

The colours are much more representational of their actual colours in the second image. Notice the shirt is blue and not a purplish colour. Also notice the skin colour is a lot more natural rather than a slight cast to orange. In short, colours are much more realistic when they white balance is properly adjusted. Neither of the images were altered in any way and represent the image taken straight from the camera.

Now, can these be corrected in PhotoShop and other popular editing programs? Sure they can. Do you want to spend the time it takes to do so? Well it all depends on how much time you have on your hands. And, if you work for a client whom you have to send proofs to before sending the actual raw file or if you work for a newspaper whom you have to email the jpeg so that it can be printed because time is of the essence, you probably don’t have the time to edit in PhotoShop. In such a case(s) it is better to get it right the first time in camera.

Confessions of a Photographer

This is an oldy  but I still consider it a good laugh regardless of how many times I view it. I have been to confession before and that is the biggest cross I have ever seen on  a monk .And, it is true that it is complete blasphemy to canonize a photographer who is a predominantly  Nikon shooter :) Don’t understand what I am babbling about ? Have a look at the video below and enjoy the confessions of a photographer!

State of Confusion

The confused state of the hooded pitta
State of Confusion

Have you ever started talking about a thought and in mid-sentence start talking about something else leaving some to wonder whether you have clearly lost your marbles? Well, that is the same impression I got of this bird – the hooded pitta – which I encountered during a visit to the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester. The bird itself is very photogenic but absolutely refused to sit still. It ran around aimlessly, quickly darting from place to place hence the name of the photograph – State of Confusion. It was because of this frenzied behaviour I captured this image which harkens back to the concept of double exposure on film.

I had intended to utilize my flash to seize the movement of the bird given that I was also working in a low lit, indoor area which required longer exposure times or higher ISO values. But, in my haste, I completely forgot that I had my flash set to rear curtain synch. Consequently, the shutter opened and the flash shot off just before the rear curtain closed. The bird moved during that brief moment and so I have a shot of where it started and where it stopped after doing a complete 180 turn. This resulted in this serendipitous capture which I have grown to appreciate and , to me, describes this bird’s state of confusion.

Three Cubs

Three Sunbathing Tiger Cubs
Three Cubs

It’s been a while since I have posted some of my pictures from earlier trips to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. I had taken many pictures on my visit in February of this year.. I had initially intended to enter them into competition. But, I changed my mind in the end opting to keep them so I could continue working on them. Also, I had determined that I wanted to revisit the zoo to improve my skills in capturing the animals in an engaging way.

This capture of three tiger cubs sunbathing on a rock is one which I had lingered on and on about finally developing and releasing it. I had thought about developing the image  on numerous occasions only to have my intent become subdued by mere procrastination. Well, I was finally able to accomplish it. Yet, I am still not satisfied as I thought that I could still emphasize the warm. soft glow of the sun which kissed the cubs where they rested. However, this tranquil moment when all three cubs were resting side-by-side was what I wanted to capture to show a more fraternal nature to them.

Capturing animals during the winter can be pretty tricky given the amount of reflection which comes off the snow. However, I want to return during the spring time to see if I will have any luck capturing a different, and hopefully, more active composition of the cubs.

The Lens as a Shaper of Image

The question I hear most often from various friends and persons whom I instruct in photography goes a little like this – “I am thinking of getting lens – xyz; What do you think?” To be honest, I think the question should really be rephrased to – “I am thinking of doing this type of photography or taking these type of pictures; Do you think this lens is adequate?” It is true that you can take a photograph of the same scene with just about any lens but the qualities of different lenses allow you to interpret the scene differently. In the following text, I will attempt to explain how the lens is a shaper of image.

Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto lenses do two things particularly well – they isolate sections of a scene and they compress an image. By isolating a part of a scene, it is possible to make the subject of the image a lot more prominent and eliminate distractions. This is especially true if you are making use of a telephoto lens with zoom capability. With such a lens, it is possible to isolate your subject out of the environment and give you a more intimate photograph of your subject.

Further, by the very construction of the lens, telephoto lenses are more likely to create bokeh –  a natural blurring of the background and or foreground due to the shallow depth of field.  This allows the photographer to eliminate distractions by using the natural optical properties of the lens.

Wide Angle Lenses

Wide angle lenses allow for the spreading out of items in a scene giving the impression of more space between items. Lenses like these are frequently used by landscape photographers to show the grand scale of things. They have also been used in portraiture in unique ways. Arnold Newman used telephoto lenses to get as much into his photographs to explain more about the person whom he photographed.

The lens does not only change how much one can put within his/her frame but how he/she tells the story. And, dependant on the lens, chosen for the scene, a photographer may tell the story more effectively. I have posted a small video below to give a more visual explanation of how a lens can shape an image. Although, the photographer discusses more about telephoto lenses, I think he touches on some key points which explain the differences between using a wide angle V.S. a telephoto lens.

Sodus Point Light House

Sodus Point Light House
Sodus Point Light House

There is something classical and enduring about light houses. Something about them suggest a metaphorical statement of an enduring light during the darkest times; Or, a spotlight to point the way and steer you clear of danger. This is the same feeling I get whenever I review this photo I took three weeks back at Sodus Point, NY. Sodus Point is a small bay town which sits on the shores of Lake Ontrario in Central New York. If you were to ever visit, the place looks like it sprang from an old fishing village.  I truly don’t know the full history of the town and to really learn that I would have to get that information from one of the locals which I did not have much opportunity to do.

But, back to the lighthouse and its appeal. The photo on the left truly doesn’t do it any justice as I had to crop it somewhat so that the lighthouse would be visible. However, the brooding dark sky really added to its appeal and added atmosphere to the scene that was better experienced rather than simply shot on camera.

What the photograph does not indicate is the frigid, windy temperatures that had to be endured to capture this. I took several shots of this lighthouse because the wind was so strong and constant, that my camera would shake even though it was placed on a steady tripod. I even took extra precautionary steps to avoid camera shake by using my remote trigger. Using the remote trigger also helped me to keep my poor digits warm too. In the end though, I was satisfied with the result and I present it here – the Sodus Point Light House.

The Rainbow Macaw

The Rainbow Macaw
The Rainbow Macaw

I thought I would add a splash of color with this photograph of a macaw. Its brightly colored feathers gave me the impression of a painting where the painter swabs globs of rainbow colors to a side of the painting to grab some interest. In the same waym this macaw did just that. Even though the background was brightly lit because it was such a sunny day, Its plumage drew my interest as it buried its beak into its feathers grooming itself.

Where I come from we have parrots. We don’t have macaws though as these species seem more a native of South America. However, it was nice to find a little reminder of the tropical nature of home at the zoo. Now, the only thing left to make it feel completely like home is a dense, damp, evergreen rainforest.

The Stare

The Stare
The Stare

Aren’t there days when you feel like this guy. Like someone ticks you off to the highest level of tick-tivity but rather than blow your top you just stare at them. The cold, long stoic stare that this lion had reminded me a lot of that emotion and I could not hesitate but capture that.

Personally, I think he was more concerned about having had to come out in the snow covered pen. I bet he was thinking – “Oh crap, not this snow again!” But, I will leave you to guess what he is thinking and enjoy The Stare.