Sunday, August 5, 2018

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Snowbirds and Fireworks




Gallery (50 images): Snowbirds and Fireworks

On Wednesday August 1st, I was at Hadden Park in the evening for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team's display over Vancouver. During some formations, the jets are well under two meters apart at the wingtips, which is very impressive to see indeed. Later that evening, at 10pm, there was one of the annual Celebration of Light fireworks displays, featuring Team Sweden, and I was up on the Burrard Bridge to photograph that. The linked gallery has images from both events...

Saturday, July 28, 2018

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Germany 2018 - Celle



Gallery (35 images): Germany 2018 - Celle

The city of Celle is a quaint little town north-east of Hanover, with the old town centre full of Fachwerkhäuser. In the above photo, one can see construction that is quite typical in many places in Germany, houses or buildings that have upper floors that progressively extend beyond the lower floors. There were likely numerous different reasons why this was done, perhaps to maximize living space without crowding the streets below or to shelter the lower walls from inclement weather. Another theory I've heard, was that it was done to maximize space but also minimize property taxes since those were once based on just the area of the ground floor.

See: All Germany 2018 Galleries

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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Germany 2018 - Hanover


Gallery (95 images): Germany 2018 - Hanover

In late June, my father and I were off on a three week trip to Germany, visiting lots of friends and relatives, as well as doing some sightseeing too. The gallery I am publishing here is actually from a day right in the middle of our trip, a day where we met up with my friend Julia and went sightseeing in Hanover. There are a few reasons why I am publishing this one first...

Just before the trip, I received my Venus Optics Laowa Zero-D 9mm f/2.8 lens for my Fujifilm X-system, and since returning, I have spent a fair bit of time examining images from that lens closely. While it isn't perfect, considering how wide a lens it is (equivalent to a 13.5mm on a full-frame 35mm), how compact and lightweight it is, and the fact that true to its name, it really does effectively have zero barrel distortion, I have been very impressed with its performance. The "new" city hall in Hanover, which opened in 1913 and took about 12 years to build, is an impressive building with a huge cathedral-like interior and lots of baroque detail. It was the perfect place to use the Laowa 9mm lens, which did a good job of encompassing much of the huge interior into single frames. Making an effort to keep the lens level eliminated the sloping perceptive distortion that any such a wide lens would exhibit, which is dramatically visible on a few photos that I intentionally shot that way. Overall,  I am very happy with how the 9mm lens performed, and generally speaking, it was a very successful day of photography, with a sky that cooperated as well, giving some nice, fluffy white clouds!

To read a more detailed evaluation of the Laowa 9mm, one that I wrote just before I left on the trip, see Beau Photo's July 2018 Newsletter - July 2018 PDF.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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Happy Daylight Savings Day!



Finally, more light in the evenings again! I love the switch to daylight savings time, especially when it is accompanied by a gorgeous warm and sunny day! Despite the fact that I am still suffering from the aftereffects of a bad flu, I dragged myself out of the house and wandered down to Granville Island for a few hours later in the evening, carrying my X-Pro2 and Fujifilm's fantastic set of f/2 primes. Sunset was just after 7pm, and the warm colours and play of light and shadow was nice to experience.

After shooting with Fujifilm's new X-H1 on numerous occasions recently, as much as I really liked using that camera, there is still something about the X-Pro2 that just fits me better. The camera's controls are all readily available to my right hand, and I definitely prefer the offset, "rangefinder style" viewfinder too. That said, there are a bunch of things I really like about the X-H1 and I do hope that Fujifilm incorporates some of those firmware tweaks into an update for the X-Pro2 in the future! For my detailed preview of Fujifilm's X-H1, as well as an image gallery with lots of nighttime, slow shutter speed handheld exposures, taking advantage of the X-H1's new IBIS system, see the Beau Photo blog here...

http://www.beauphoto.com/new-fujifilm-x-h1-preview/  (opens in a new window)

Another note: all the images in the above gallery (and in the X-H1 gallery) were only processed in the very latest Adobe Lightroom CC. I have to say, Adobe has come a long way in the last year, improving their X-Trans sensor demosaic a fair bit. Images are rendering really nicely, with minimal colour bleed and better shadow details and texture than I recall. Sharp branches against a blue sky are nice and crisp, natural looking without blurriness or weird outlining.

The above images were processed with Adobe's "Camera ASTIA/SOFT" profile, which mimics Fujifilm's out-of-camera colour fairly well, much better than the "Adobe Standard" profile does. I have tweaked the profile even further myself, incorporating some slight hue and saturation adjustments to some colours, to bring it even closer to Fuji's colours, probably more like a lower contrast "Velvia" setting in all honestly. I find that Adobe's "Camera Velvia/VIVID" setting is just too hard and contrasty to use as a starting point. In any case, I am liking the overall colour rendition, and even how fine details look in low ISO images now, so Adobe finally deserves some praise on how it handles Fujifilm's X-Trans raw images. I will say this though: it's about time!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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Fireworks from the Empire Landmark (2016)



Back in July of 2016, I accompanied another photographer to shoot the Australian team's fireworks display during the Vancouver Celebration of Light. We shot from high up, a balcony at the former Empire Landmark Hotel, soon to be developed as the Landmark on Robson. For various reasons, I never got around to posting these photos until now.

As this is my belated first post of the year, let me take a moment to wish everyone reading this a Healthy and Happy New Year for 2018! Enjoy the fireworks...

Monday, December 25, 2017

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2017 / Happy Holidays!



Gallery (25 photos): 2017 / Happy Holidays!

Here's wishing everyone Happy Holidays for 2017! All the best for the upcoming new year as well!

The gallery has photos I took while walking back home through downtown Vancouver a few days ago. There were some amazing houses and lots of festive lights everywhere in the city too.

I've said this before, but this time I will try to stick to it: for the new year, I am hoping to blog a little more often and try to get caught up on all the images I've shot over the years! Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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2017 Oregon Eclipse - Painted Hills / Clarno / Shaniko





In August, I headed down to central Oregon with a friend to experience and photograph the total solar eclipse. I decided to go nearly a week early, to scout out and secure campsites prior to the mad traffic and rush of people that hit Oregon right around eclipse-day, and also to enjoy the amazing scenery there. Luckily, we managed to find a campground just outside the eclipse path to the north that wasn't trying to charge exorbitant rates, and we prepaid for 5 days right through to the day of the eclipse. In addition, scouting around some BLM backroads that I was already familiar with, we found a great spot to camp, at the end of a rough gravel road, so stayed there on the Saturday and Sunday before the eclipse on Monday.

The above linked gallery has images from the first two days of the trip after arriving in central Oregon, from both the Painted Hills and Clarno Units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, as well as from the "almost ghost town" of Shaniko.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

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Canada 150: Fireworks in New Westminster




Canada celebrated 150 years as an integrated nation this year, with July 1, 1867, being the day that the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were united into a single dominion of the British Empire. Note that Canada did not become fully independent until the Constitution Act of 1982 was passed!

Avoiding the huge crowds in and around downtown Vancouver, I met up with a few friends in New Westminster, to observe the Canada 150 celebration there. There were fireworks scheduled just in front of the River Market at Westminster Quay, and when we arrived early to find a spot to setup our cameras, the fireworks barge was still docked and being set up at the edge of the Fraser River - see photo #1 in the gallery. I called out and asked where the barge would be, and was told "... in the middle of the Fraser, about 100 meters west..." so we setup in a spot where we thought the fireworks would be visible to the right of the Inn at the Quay - photo #2. Well, much to my dismay, they towed the barge more like 600 meters to the west, thus totally messing with our intended composition. By the time the barge was stationary in the river, being kept on station with a tugboat on either end, there was not enough time to try and find another spot where we could incorporate the fireworks into an interesting foreground. Too bad!

In the gallery, the images that are wide, 16:9 aspect ratio, were some of the nicer still frames taken during the time-lapse with my X-Pro2, where I shot with the XF 10-24mm zoom and cropped to the wider format. The other, less rectangular shots (mostly verticals) were taken with the Fujifilm GFX 50S and 63mm lens. I will be posting a review on that medium format digital camera at some point in the future as well.

Following is a simple time-lapse I mentioned. Click on the image below to open the video (1080p - 13MB download) in a new window or tab. You can see the tugboats and barge moving back and forth, working to stay centred at more or less the same spot on the river...



Monday, July 3, 2017

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2017/03 California - Joshua Tree National Park




In mid-March, my friend Bill and I decided to make a quick run down to the southern California deserts. That region had received way above average rainfall and a wildflower "super-bloom" was fully in progress. Have a look at the above photo; normally that area of Joshua Tree National Park has rocky, sandy ground with a few sage-brushes dotting the slopes and maybe some tufts of drying grass. However back in March, as you can see, one could walk knee-deep in spots through carpets of blooming wildflowers!

Unfortunately it was too early for the bloom in the higher parts of Joshua Tree NP, where all the cool rock formations and, of course, the Joshua trees are located, so the slopes near the south entrance were the only spots to really see any wildflowers. With only this one area in bloom, we decided to head down to Anza Borrego Desert State Park the next day, a fair bit further south and where we knew the wildflowers were already fully developed.

This was the first time in over 20 years that I managed to make it down to southern CA during the peak of a wildflower super-bloom and it was indeed quite impressive! Stay tuned for more shots from Anza Borrego in the next few posts...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

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NiSi "Natural Night Filter" Tests & Review





Gallery (36 images): NiSi Natural Night Filter Tests

[Updated June 10, 2017: post now has full review and gallery]

I recently purchased a NiSi Natural Night Filter, a filter designed to block certain wavelengths of light, namely those produced by sodium vapour and mercury vapour lamps. Sodium vapour city streetlights are what cause night shots in cities to have such a dominant yellow/orange colour cast. In the animated GIF image above, you can see what a dramatic difference the filter makes! Also check out the linked gallery above for some extensive comparisons.

Not yet having an existing drop-in filter holder, I also bought NiSi's filter holder system kit. I have not tried any of NiSi's other extensive set of filters, such as graduated NDs or the like, so my review is rather specific.  For simplicity sake, I will refer to this filter as the NNF from now on in the following review...