Thursday, July 18, 2013

Get your A$$ out of bed

...but before we get to that, some other stuff...

Still some openings
I'm doing an introductory lesson this Saturday morning and could use more students! If you're in the Highlands, you're reading this and you want to get started learning to take better pictures, please click here.
Also on the PhotoWalk on Sunday morningRead the previous blog: I'm shooting Furnace Falls at Dawn, then the Irondale Church, then maybe a visit to Kinmount on the way home. See how it's done and get some pictures of some really interesting venues! Click here!
I've also been asked to do a DSLR course in the GTA (in Vaughan). They want a mid-week session, which is OK with me except I would have to stay overnight in Toronto, so it only makes sense if I have more students. Some time in August. Send me an email if you're interested.

Someone else asked me to do a twilight shoot in Toronto (city lights, just at dusk, HDR, cityscape...). Again I'd like to do it if I can get some more interest from my adoring public. Send me an email

Been Looking for this for YEARS!
Screwing filters onto my lenses is a real pain in the butt. Especially the circular polarizer, because when you try to take it off, it's stuck. The outer ring of the filter turns (as it's designed to do) but the body is seemingly permanently screwed on the lens. I started carrying surgical gloves around to try to get the thing off.

Same thing is true of my Neutral Density filter, although that comes off easier. But the problem is, I can't see through it when it's installed, so composition and focusing is a time-consuming operation. Set up...put the filter on...shoot a test shot...decide to recompose...take off the filter... recompose...put the filter back on... and so on.

Well these guys came up with a system where you put an adapter on the lens that has a super duper magnet in it. You put your filter in the mating adapter, snap it on and off. Bingo! There's a little video on their site, click the link!

Disclaimer: I haven't got mine yet so I haven't tested it. It popped up a couple of days ago and I haven't even had time to get my order in. Looks amazing, though and the starter set is only $50 or so.

Highlands Living
People ask me all the time how I live up in the Highlands full time. "Don't you feel isolated? Especially in the winter?" The truth is, that's a downside to living here. I don't get enough company. But the winter is wonderful, probably my favourite time!

The good far outweighs the bad. I stayed with a friend in downtown Toronto last week and I was in Montreal last weekend and I wouldn't live in the city for all the money in the world (OK, wait a minute... that's an expression, not a statement of fact!...). So many people. So many cars. It took me longer to drive on Tuesday morning from Toronto to Mississauga and back to the 401/Allen than it would have to drive all the way home. And back. You can keep it.

But again, there's good and bad on both sides. For instance, I touched bases with a whole bunch of people I don't see very often (in one case, it's been almost half a century! Gary actually introduced me to photography that many years ago. He's a fine photographer himself, I hope we'll get to shoot together soon).

Also cities are full of photo ops. You'll see in a minute.

But it's been 33°C (over 90, you Yanks!) and I have something you don't: a lake. I was in the water 3 times yesterday and I'll be in there this afternoon after I finish this blog post! Last week, my friend Ilana visited me for a couple of days, 'way too short a visit, I hope she comes back soon! We did get some waterfront time in...

I took this with the D5100. I wasn't that impressed with the original shot, the lighting was rough in the middle of the day, but Lightroom and Nik Color Efex Pro (Polaroid Transfer filter) saved the day. Very little retouching is needed when you have such a beautiful model!

I posted this for a couple of reasons. There's something to be said for photographing people instead of rocks and trees and it's high on my list to learn to do better. By the way, to quote Dr. Sheldon Cooper, "she's a friend, she's a girl, but she's not my girlfriend". Oh, to be younger...

That's my lead-in to the first picture below:

Old Montreal
Some background, then I'll tie this back into the title of this post.

I was in Montreal on family business and we took an afternoon drive through Old Montreal (don't get me started on the traffic...). I immediately said, "I have to come back here tomorrow morning at dawn". So I did... well sort of! I woke up at 4:30, said, "I can sleep another half-hour or so", then promptly fell asleep until 6am. By the time I got downtown, it was 6:30. The sun was long since up, but I'm going to count that as a dawn shoot.

I have NEVER gotten up for a dawn shoot and been disappointed. NEVER. You'd think I would have learned that by now. I'm going to get my a$$ out of bed early much more often. This was no exception. The only things moving in Old Montreal were the street cleaning crews, a few vagrants, and the cute blond girl in the little red City of Montreal Parking Enforcement car who seemed to follow me around and take out her ticket book every time I pulled over to take some pictures! When I shot the picture below, she was just pulling up behind my car.

I processed this picture 6 different ways and loved them all. This is selective colour using Silver Efex Pro, a little toning in HDR Efex Pro and a Glamor Glow added in Color Efex Pro. A testament to the Nik Plugins!

I'm not sure if this fellow was a vagrant or just a visitor. He had a bedroll on his back, walked with a laboured limp, and I saw him several times as he walked along the full length of St. Paul St. He didn't know I was taking his picture, I used the "I'm chimping, not taking pictures" trick I read about recently. Shutter speed was only 1/40 sec, OK for camera shake with the 35mm lens on the full frame, but not quite enough to freeze his head movement. Nik saved the day.

For your enjoyment, here are a few more "Old Montreal early in the morning before anyone else was up" pictures.

This isn't actually Old Montreal. It's Ste. Catherine Street, closed for a festival. My camera was doing some funny things: not sure why. 2- or 3-stops overexposed, nothing set wrong that I could find. Lucky shot. By the way, first shots with my newly returned D600.

This IS Old Montreal.

Same spot, colour version.

Always turn around and look behind you

It was worth getting my a$$ out of bed...

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