Archive for January, 2009

Great Little Time-Lapse Video

Posted in General with tags , , on Friday, January 30, 2009 by Miserere

Enjoy the time-lapse photography of Eyal Landesman for the video (directed by Oren Lavie, Yuval and Merav Nathan) of Her Morning Elegance, by Oren Lavie (who has clearly and wonderfully been influenced by Nick Drake).

Top 15 Reasons You Might Be Obsessed with Photography

Posted in General, Humour with tags , , , , , on Thursday, January 29, 2009 by Miserere

In no particular order…

  1. You get a brown dog because you don’t want the exposure problems caused by black and/or white fur.
  2. Your doctor informs you that the reason your baby girl didn’t open her eyes until she was 18 months old was because you kept strobing her for baby pics.
  3. You don’t giggle when a fashion photographer says he snooted his model during a shoot.
  4. At your nephew’s christening you ask the priest to repeat the water dipping because your first shot was a bit blurry.
  5. You refer to cleaning up after dinner as postprocessing the kitchen.
  6. You think that double of 4 is 5.6.
  7. When you ask a stranger to take a photo of you and your spouse on holiday it takes you 10 minutes to explain the process of taking a shot with your camera.
  8. You’ve locked yourself out of your house and car, forgetting your keys many times, but you’re never without a camera.
  9. When your spouse asks you if you want to go for a walk you reply “not yet, Honey, the light isn’t good right now”.
  10. When you ask your boss for a raise you request 1/3 stop salary increase.
  11. It took you 1/2 hour to decide which car to get but 2 months for what 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom to buy.
  12. You can’t remember the date of your anniversary but you know the specs to all the cameras and lenses in your brand.
  13. You once got into a bar fight because somebody said digital was better than film.
  14. You have triplets and name them Diane, Ansel and Henri.
  15. You tell your son he has to go to a state school because you spent his college fund when you switched camera systems.

Random Pic of the Day

Posted in Random Pic of the Day with tags , , , on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 by Peter Zack

by Peter Zack



January 2008 Sullivans Pond, Dartmouth Nova Scotia. Peter Zack

Multi-exposure image in camera. The fountain contains 5 different solid light colours and this technique combined them all better than a long time exposure.

Welcome to New Contributor Peter Zack!

Posted in General with tags on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 by Miserere

As many of you might have noticed, yesterday’s article was authored by my good friend Peter Zack. Hailing from the frozen steppes of the Great North, Peter is my go-to guy when I need photographic advice. He was making Daguerreotypes in the Wild West before Billy the Kid got his first gun, so he knows a few things. 😀 He’s now left the dusty plains behind and these days mostly hangs out in churches taking fantastic wedding photos. Please visit his website, PEI Wedding Photography, and take a look. You can also read his profile here.

I am very excited that he has joined EtL and you can look forward to some great articles and tutorials in the weeks and months to come. His first post is a tutorial on shooting sunsets and sunrises, a very common subject matter for amateur photographers the world over, and precisely what got me interested in photography in the first place. I wish I’d known Peter back then!

Now please join me in saying: Welcome, Peter!

Shooting Sunrises and Sunsets.

Posted in Lesson, Photography with tags , , , on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 by Peter Zack

by Peter Zack


For my first submission to Enticing the light, lets have a look at some popular photography ideas. Over the next months and years I’d like to explore as many aspects of photography and inspiration as possible.

potw2wd44For us in the Northern Hemisphere, this is the ideal time for shooting sunrises and sunsets. The days are shorter and the light softens more due to the lower sun angles. The resulting light is warmer and has a richer glow. There are many technical reasons (meteorological) that cause any sunset but essentially direct overhead sunlight passes through less atmosphere directly to earth and reflects the blue end of the spectrum best (which is the shortest wavelength). At dawn and dusk, the sun’s light must pass through more atmospheric distance and much of the blue reflected light is scattered. Things like pollution, and air particles will increase this scattering of the light waves and increase the intensity of other parts of the light spectrum. As the winter seasons approach, this distance from the sun to your shooting location increases even more the further north you are (and I would assume the same in the southern hemisphere as well). So this is the time of year to get out early and get some great shots! The added bonus is that you don’t have to get up at 4 AM to do it.

So first you have to choose a location to shoot. What’s best? Well of course the first consideration is what you want to have visible in the shot. The image here was taken in a rural area not far from the ocean at the end of a warm day. The light was intense right at sunset. The main reason was because the water was warm and there had been a rainfall earlier in the day. The air was humid and intensified the colour. So pick your locations with some forethought. Dry areas will generally produce less vibrant colour but that could be offset by dust or pollution from a city or factory area. I had seen this spot a few dozen times and had considered it a good place to shoot a sunset. But the light wasn’t quite right for several visits. So I waited and watched the weather. Sometimes you are at the right place at the right time and just have to know how to take the shot, other times you will scout out areas for future reference. I keep these spots in a file on my PDA to go back to when the time is right. Keep a notebook in the car!

You should have a tripod or some method of steadying the camera. You will often be shooting in a low light situation. Sometimes it’s bright enough to hand hold the shot but as the light fades, you may get even more interesting shots to take and without a way to hold the camera steady the shot will look blurry. So a number of things can help. A small pocket tripod that you can put on a car hood or fence post can do. A sandbag or your back-pack on a picnic table can do the job in many cases. But consider a tripod if possible. If the camera will allow it, a cable release or remote control is also a good tool to reduce camera shake. If you don’t have one, you can use the camera’s self timer. it’s not just for getting yourself in the shot! Set the camera up for the shot and hit the self timer. Stand back and let it take a nice clear shot.

Or composition is the next critical factor. If you just happen across a great spot and a fantastic sunset, then3rds look for some landmarks or other items to anchor the shot. Have a close look at the cloud formations. In the shot above, it would be very dull if it was only the tree tops. There are almost no clouds to add interest to the sky and the trees lack much interesting definition. The steeple gives the image a point of interest and ‘anchors’ the bottom of the shot. So now you have an element to draw your attention. Once the viewer is interested, they will have a look around to see what else is there. Each situation will vary of course but the sky is the interest. So use the “Rule of Thirds” if possible. That simply means that you divide the picture into 9 cubes across the screen.

The theory is that an image is more pleasing to view. It’s been a “rule” in painting for hundreds of years and avoids the classic issue of the subject being directly in the center of an image. With a subject in the center, the viewer will more often than not, look at the subject and ignore the rest of the image. ROT basically forces the person to have a look around and enjoy the entire image. In the picture above the lines leading from the bottom also draws the eye up to explore the cloud formation as well. You want to try and position your subject at one of the intersection points in the diagram. This ROT can give the image some symmetry but every rule is meant to be broken and certain situations may be much more interesting when the rule is broken. So find the subject and experiment with the placement to add interest. Also remember that the sun does not need to be in the shot for it to have impact. Consider that you are painting with light and be creative in choosing your shots.

Exposures: We’ve all seen lots of nice sunset shots that have a yellow look to them instead of the nice warm reds that we saw at the time. Or the image has a reddish tone but not the vibrant reds and oranges we saw. Light meters in any camera can have trouble with these scenes. Because the light across the frame can be so different. From black to almost daylight bright. So metering is difficult.  Shoot at the lowest ISO available to you, ISO100 would be best and since you may need slow shutter speeds, I recommend a tripod or camera support.

I always shoot manual for these shots. I’ll meter using the spot meter to give me some guidance for the settings. If your camera does not have a manual setting there may be ways to trick it into getting what you want. If the camera has a button to lock the exposure, then get the settings you want and lock them. So for example you might point the camera at the brightest spot, lock the settings to get a high shutter speed and then move the camera to another section of the scene to have it slightly underexposed. Then compose the shot after that. If the camera has an over ride setting where you can make it under or overexpose the shot, then get an average setting with the auto function and then over ride it as needed.

So how to expose the shot correctly? The meter will often overexpose the image as it tried to balance out all the light and dark areas of the shot. You will often want to underexpose the image to bring out the colours. There is a balance there though. Too much underexposure will give you digital noise (or grain in film) and not look good in the dark areas. So meter the scene (use spot metering or center weighted if available) a few degrees away from the sun. then manually bracket the shot a few stops lower to see what the camera will produce. So if the setting says you should shoot at f5.6 aperture and 1/125th shutter speed. Then move the shutter speed to the next 1 or 2 higher spots. That will cause the camera to underexpose the image and bring out the colour more. If you need to use a form of compensation on the camera, then turn it down – 1/2 or -1 . Keep adding some underexposure to each following frame to see what works best for the scene. In the shot above, the setting was 2 stops (-2) lower than the meter asked for.

In terms of shutter speeds a stop is one full exposure setting above or below the meter’s recommendation. So if the meter says 1/125 and you want 1 stop underexposed, the setting would be 1/250 or double the shutter speed. The faster the shutter fires, the less light allowed in. The same is true for aperture settings if your camera allows that adjustment. If the setting is recommended at f5.6 and you want 1 stop of underexposure then you want to close the potw2wd4-23lens to f8.

Here is the same image as the camera said it should be taken:

As you can see, it is still a good image but the orange is more washed out and dominated by the yellows. The sun has already set so the yellow should be less prominent in the shot. By underexposing the image, we actually get much closer to what was really there and an image with more mood and impact.

Sunsets and sunrises are not tough to shoot with a little planning and preparation. Pick your spots and be prepared to experiment with the exposures.

Shoot and have some fun creating some new masterpieces!




Lenses Are like Sweets

Posted in Editorial with tags , , on Monday, January 26, 2009 by Miserere

Photographers love lenses. Sure, we use a camera to take photographs, but it’s lenses that we crave. Lenses are like sweets: First you buy a jar of strawberry sweets and you’re happy to eat one a day. But one day you see that they’re selling the same type of sweets in lemon flavour, so you buy a jar of those. Alternating flavours is nice, but you think that it would be nicer still if you added a third flavour, and so you buy a jar of orange sweets. Before you know it, you look at your shelf and you see it’s full of sweet jars: Strawberry, lemon, orange, apple, plum, mint, raspberry, pineapple… Instead of stopping and asking yourself what all those jars are doing there, and why you never even opened the pineapple jar you bought two months ago, you ask yourself why the sweet company doesn’t make cola flavoured sweets. What’s wrong with them? Isn’t it obvious they should add cola to their line-up?

Sweet Jars...Not Lenses

Image credit:

“You should enjoy taking photographs a lot more than collecting lenses.”

That’s when you log on to and start a thread complaining about the lack of cola flavour. Soon you find yourself hanging around that forum complaining about other things, like why the lemon flavour isn’t sour enough, or how the raspberry tastes a bit like blueberry, or how the mint flavour isn’t green enough… And all the while, your sweets remain in their jars, on your shelf, unopened, with nobody to enjoy their taste.

Take the equipment you have, use it, abuse it, push it to its limits, push yourself to your limits, and you’ll derive a lot more pleasure than you will from simply collecting lenses on your shelf.

Don’t be addicted to lenses, be addicted to pictures.

Resistance Is Futile: Coping with the Inevitable Future

Posted in Editorial with tags , , on Friday, January 23, 2009 by Miserere

Recently, Mike Johnston (of The Online Photographer) wrote a post about doing things they way he wanted, which in most cases was the way he’d always done them. Despite having adopted digital photography, Mike seems reluctant to adapt to other changes in the modern world. An interesting dichotomy: he’ll shoot digital photos but does not want a cell phone. He got me thinking.

When I bought a car a few months back, I went with a manual transmission drive (which is rare in the US). This wasn’t because it was what I was used to having learnt to drive in Europe, but because I find manual transmission gives me more control over the behaviour and handling of the car. This is much the same reason why I only embraced photography fully when digital gave me total control over every step of the process. But manual cars, at least with a gear stick, are on their way out. In Europe, more and more cars are appearing with automatic transmission that also allows for “quick-shift” gear changing (please excuse my lack of a technical term for this). While I still prefer having a clutch and gear stick, I know their days are counted and am expecting cars with gear shifting through paddles on the steering wheel, just like current Formula 1 cars. I’ll miss the clutch, and my left foot will grow bored, but I must embrace the change.

Much in Life is like this. We live too long not to have great technological changes happen during our lifetimes. My father was born in a small farming village in Spain, and he still remembers seeing his first car as a young child. Now he drives a car that can tell him how to get from one point of Spain to another with an error of only 10 meters. But my father doesn’t have a cell phone, nor does he know how to use a computer. Another dichotomy.

Reading Mike’s essay I was immediately reminded of an old article by the late, great Douglas Adams, mostly famous for being the creator of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which was a book long before it became a film, kids, and a radio show before it ever hit the written page). In his short essay How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet (originally published in the News Review section of The Sunday Times on August 29th 1999), Adams describes how we view technology in the following way:

  1. everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
  2. anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
  3. anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

While funny, it’s probably mostly true. Although I might like to add another entry:

  1. Anything that gets invented after you’re fifty is so close to magic as to be impossible to ever fathom, and thus you just “leave it to the youngsters” and never worry about trying to use it.

I promised myself back in 2000 (when I first read Adams’s article) that I would not fall into categories 3 or 4. Thus, I try to keep up to date with technological and social advances, although I can already, in my early thirties, feel myself lagging behind my pledge. For example, what the hell is Twitter and why do I need to make like a bird? Do I really need a Facebook account?

“You cannot afford to be obsolete if you expect to survive, let alone thrive.”

I shouldn’t be asking myself these questions, instead I should be embracing these services wholeheartedly, all the while hoping they’re nothing but a fad so I can turn around and say “I told you so!”. The thing is, if they turn out not to be a fad (like the internet, cell phone, colour TV, electricity and the wheel proved not to be), I better be up to date and know how to use them. Because herein lies the problem of not adopting emerging trends: the opposite of up to date is obsolete. Do you want to be obsolete? In today’s world of unstable markets, growing population, developing economies and ever-shrinking profit margins, you cannot afford to be obsolete if you expect to survive, let alone thrive.

The reason my father never learned how to use a computer is that he believed he didn’t need to. He felt his time for learning new technologies had passed and that he could make it to the finish line without ever needing them. He is now retired, in his mid-70’s, and he might have been right, but that was a large gamble he took. But whatever his personal agenda was, he did realise the importance of emerging technologies and continuously encouraged me and my sister to learn about them. Thanks to his motivation and approval I am a young adult who feels confident in this ever-increasing technological world. And thanks to Douglas Adams I hope to have a fighting chance of reaching 50 and still being up to date with the latest gizmos. However, I do wonder if I can be like Mike and successfully cherry-pick the new technologies I embrace.

I also ask myself, what on earth are the kids of today listening to? They call that music!?