Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Check out the all new gear page!

The holidays are upon us and many people are adding photography gear to their wish lists. At this time of year I always get loads of email from people asking my opinion on cameras, lenses, printers, drones and other accessories. So...I decided to do a complete revamp of my "Favorite Gear" page and it is now live.

You can check it out here, or by clicking on the image below.

Hopefully this will help you pick out a new gift for yourself. I know that I have more camera gear on my wish list!



If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Barcelona - A visit to Guell Park

This is the last blog post with photos from my recent trip to Barcelona, and all of these photos are from one of the most popular tourist locations in the Spanish city. This spot is called Guell Park and it is a park designed by the famous architect, Antoni Gaudi.

The architecture is so unique here that it makes for a really fun photographic outing. It was so interesting that I actually made two trips to the park during my week in Barcelona.

The first day we had excellent weather with nice blue skies and some scattered clouds.

For this trip, I was using my Canon 5D Mark III for all the photos. To help accentuate the colors in the blue sky, I attached my Tiffen HT Circular Polarizing filter to the 28-300mm lens. This first photo was actually taken from outside the park, looking in. I turned the camera at an angle to include multiple buildings in this shot.

This is the main entrance to the park and one of the more photographed sections.

Behind that same entrance is this really cool building. I decided to zoom in tight with the 28-300mm lens to highlight the intricate mosaic work. I was happy to have the nice blue sky in the background, since the previous couple of days were nothing but grey skies.

And here is another tight shot of the top of another unique building. As you can see, Gaudi's architecture is like no other.

I stepped back, before entering the rest of the park, and took this photo to show more architecture and the crowd of people. There are a lot of people who come to this park. If you find yourself in Barcelona, make sure to buy your tickets in advance since they limit the amount of people who can be in the park.

Since I had this perfect sky for photography, I continued to keep the camera pointed up.

At the entrance to the park, you will find Gaudi's famous mosaic lizard. I zoomed in tight to show the details of the mosaic work, but also to avoid the throngs of people who were around "El Drac".

These columns are located under the main terrace of Guell Park. What made me laugh about this photo is that the lower third of the columns are a different color from the upper sections. When I first looked at the photo on my computer, at first glance it looks like I had different photos in one. If the people were not in the shot, it would appear even more so.

This shot shows one of the angled walkways in the park.

This columns of this walkway are patterned after the legs of elephants.

The main terrace of the park is surrounded by curved mosaic walls and is a main attraction. I took this photo at a narrow aperture to make sure that the curved walls and the buildings in the distance are both in relatively good focus.

I waited for people to move from this area to get a clean shot of the curves and colors.

These next photos were taken on my second trip to Guell Park and you can see that the sky was overcast, since there are no harsh shadows. This shot does show some of the crowds of people enjoying the architecture.

I got down low to accentuate the repeating pattern of the curved walls.

As I walked around the upper section of the park, I came across these stone walls, which were home to many pigeons and parrots.

This photo was taken from high above the park, which allowed me to get a nice shot of the unique buildings framed by the nice green foliage.

The main reason for my second trip to Guell Park was to get a night shot from this location. I had looked online and did not see many night shots from this spot, and thought that it would be good to get something different for my collection.

As it turns out, there are not too many people that visit the park later in the afternoon. This gave me a chance to get a rare shot of the front of the terrace with no large crowds.

I walked around until I found the best location for my night shot, but I was not sure if they lit the park at night.

As it turns out, they do not light any of the buildings in the park. This posed a bit of a challenge for me, since I wanted to get a photo showing the city lights in the background, but did not want everything in Guell park to be dark. So...what was I to do?

Thankfully, I had planned for this possibility, and had a backup plan in place. 

This is the photo that I wanted to get, with both the Guell Park lit up and the city lights of Barcelona in the background. In order to get this photo, I had to light the mosaic wall in front of me and the mosaic tower in the center of the frame. Here is what I did to achieve this photo:

* I set my camera on my tripod and set it for a 4 second exposure.
* I set the timer for 10 seconds to give me time to move away from the camera.
* With my Canon 600EX-RT flash in my hand, I moved out of the frame and manually popped the flash pointing at the tower in the background. And yes, the flash will travel that far and make a difference!
* I had a friend use my Qubie (which is a very cool little LED light cube) to light paint the wall in front of the camera.
* Ta da! I got the shot.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Barcelona - Casa Batllo (Gaudi designed house) and the Palau de la Musica

You can not visit the city of Barcelona without seeing the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. If you saw the last blog post showing the Sagarda Familia church, you know that he was way ahead of his time. Today's blog post shows images of Casa Batllo, the home that Gaudi designed for himself in the heart of Barcelona and also includes images from the music palace, with it's spectacular stained glass work.

Let's start with Casa Batllo.

This is the view of the house from the street. it doesn't take much to notice that the architecture is totally unique from all the other surrounding buildings.

In order to get a better photograph of the building (with less distortion), I walked across the street and took this shot of the mosaic covered walls, windows and unique balconies. With the exception of these first two exterior shots (which were taken with the Canon 28-300mm lens), all of of the photos in this blog post, were taken with the Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-105mm lens.

Then I walked back to the front of the building to determine the wait to get in. For those who do not know me...I am a pretty impatient person and I really do not like waiting in lines. I asked the person working the line and they told me that the line was approximately 45 minutes. But I noticed an empty lane that said "Fast Pass". I asked about that and they told me that for any extra 5 pounds I could bypass the line. Oh heck yeah, that was the best money spent yet! And so in I went...

This is the inside of the front windows that you see in the first photo of this blog. Gaudi used a lot of shapes and colors in his modernism designs.

And this is a view of the inside of the building, which is at least 4 stories down from a large skylight. This shaft of light helped light the home from the inside, since most of the exterior walls were connected to other buildings and would not let any light in.

I saw this unique stairway and had to take a shot. Gaudi rarely used straight lines in his architecture.

Here is another view of the inner shaft of the home.

Even the design of the roof was unique.

I moved to different spots to photograph this roof from different perspectives.

I love the curves and monochromatic style of this hallway. It is so different from anything I have ever seen.

This is yet another view of the inside of the home, but this is my favorite of the three. Since this was close to the skylight, there was an abundance of light to show off the deep blue colors in the tiles. I could have positioned the camera up over the glass, but instead, I stood back and included the glass in this composition. I love the way the curves in the glass work against the geometric tiles in the top part of the frame.

After touring the Casa Batllo, I made my way over to the Palau de la Musica. I had seen photos of this building and really wanted to capture photos inside. As it turns out, the only way to get into the building is to take a guided tour. I waited 30 minutes for an English speaking tour and then entered this amazing building.

While the tour guide was talking to all the people in one of the rooms, I made my way outside to get an unobstructed view of these columns.

And since the guide was still keeping the people busy, I made my way into the main room. This is the room that I so wanted to capture in my camera! And yes, it is true, I was too busy taking photos to listen to most of the tour.

It is easy to be captivated by the stained glass, but I wanted to make sure to capture some of the other details of the building.

At this point, the tour had moved into the main theatre, so I focused on different areas of the walls and ceiling.

This is a photo looking straight up at the stained glass window directly in the center of the theatre.

And here is a tighter shot to show the level of detail in the glasswork.

And then I waited for everyone to move out of the room, to capture this photo. The only thing that disappointed me was the construction that was going on to the right of the theatre. All that scaffolding and people.

But, as I looked at the scene, I noticed to perfect symmetry of both sides of the theatre. I figured that I could take the windows and chairs from the left side of the theatre, copy them, and then flip them and paste them into the right side of the photo.

Because the columns, chairs and even the outside walls were identical, I was able to do so fairly easily! And this photo is the end result. This is one of my favorite photos from the week in Barcelona.

Most of the photos I had seen of the Palau de le Musica were taken from the straight on position. So in order to get something a little more unique I moved to the side of the theatre to get this perspective. This was also my "safe shot", avoiding the construction, in case I was not able to easily fix the others shots above.

Stay tuned for one more post from Barcelona... A visit to Guell Park.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sagrada Familia - The architectural centerpiece of Barcelona

This weeks blog post is the second post with images from my recent trip to Barcelona, and today's subject is the famous Sagrada Familia church designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Come along and join me for a virtual tour of this amazing building.

This is your typical photo of the outside of the building. Normally I hate taking photos of buildings surrounded by cranes and construction materials, but this is different. Why? Because one of the unique things about Sagrada Familia is that it has been under construction since 1882. And...after more than 100 years, it is almost complete.

I started with the wide shot of the basilica to show you the size and scale of the building, but I still prefer the tighter shots showing more of the detail of the architecture. For this photo, I walked a block away and framed the church with the trees in the foreground.

Here is another photo of the church from the side, also including some of the fall colors in a nearby tree.

If you know me, you know that I like shooting photos that are different from what most others are taking. When walking around the front of the church, I saw these panels of glass on the adjacent gift shop. There was no reflection of the building from where I stood, but as I walked closer to the glass, the Sagrada Familia came into view. And this is what I was looking for!

At the time, I was using my Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon 28-300mm lens. This allowed me to shoot both wide shots and tight shots (like this one). From these first three photos, you might think that Sagrada Familia is similar to all the other churches in Europe, but this is definitely not the case.

As you enter the front of the church, it is apparent that this is not your typical European architecture. This is a column by the front door, which in itself looks different. And you can see the colored metal leaves which frame the entry.

But if you think the front is different, check out the other side of the church!

The back side of the Sagrada Familia is much more modern than the front. If you did not know any better, you would swear that this is a different building.

Gaudi died with only 25% of the construction complete, but he left his designs for the entire building so that others could complete the building. During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, those designs were burned, but construction continues. Some of the plans were saved but some of the design is left to the interpretation of current architects. That is obvious in these photos.

As I walked back into the church (from the back side), I noticed these amazing doors. I switched to my Canon 24-105mm lens and got really close to one of the doors. I stood and photographed the door at an angle, which creates lines which lead you through the photo.

And then it was time to take the elevator up to the top.

From the top, you have a sweeping view of Barcelona.

And this high vantage point also gave me a close up view of some of the newer architecture that is still being constructed.

I had the option of taking the elevator or taking the circular staircase all the way down. Gotta take the stairs of course! I had one of the guys from our group look back up at me for this shot. As you can tell, the circular staircase makes for a really cool frame.

Now let's take a look at the inside of the building. Once again, you can see that this is not your typical architecture. Each of the columns is made to represent a tree with branches coming from the top.

On each of the columns you can see colorful mosaic work.

Here is a better view looking up towards the ceiling of Sagrada Familia.

And a tighter shot of the mosaic work in the ceiling.

I love the wonderful use of color.

Like so many of the old European churches, the stained glass work is breathtaking.

There is a wide variety of colors used within the basilica.

Again, searching for something different. I looked away from the stained glass windows and saw the light reflecting off of the organ pipes. I stopped the camera down by a full stop to darken this image and draw more attention to the reflecting colors on the bottom of the pipes.

Most of the people in the church were fixated on the stained glass windows, but very few were taking photos of the colors that were cast onto the inside columns and ceiling.

I was having a great time capturing the amazing colors...

This was one of my favorite photos from inside the Sagrada Familia. I was teaching people to look beyond the obvious, and find the "hidden beauty" in this building when I pointed out the different colors being cast on each individual column. None of them had noticed this, but I sure did. This is what a decade of photography has done to me. It has helped me see beauty in so many things that I would have been blind to previously.

Stay tuned for more posts from Barcelona...

If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.