Sunday, 30 September 2012

Shooting where no tripod may go

This is  what happens if you don't use a tripod: blurred images or worse, too much noise as the camera, set to Auto ISO cranks the sensitivity through the rook to 'get' the shot, no matter what.
Same view with the camera set to f8, ISO 100 and placed on the floor with the self-timer set for 2 seconds. Make sure no one trips over your camera while doing this!
Italy has some fabulous churches, palaces and museums. In many you can take pictures, which is great, because I really hate being told "no photo", even if I don't want to take a shot. For me it's a little like freedom of speech.
In the example of the fabulous Duomo in Siena, it's most likely to do with keeping the flow of visitors unencumbered by dawdling photographers - but occasionally it might also be to prevent ordinary people from cashing in on the postcard, poster and DVD market. As if anyone is going to do that.

I know tripods can be a nuisance in a church - the Duomo of Siena is a classic example. When I visited, the normally covered tiled floors had been uncovered. Apparently this happens for a few weeks a year so it felt that every man, and his dog, had turned up to check them out. It's impressive, as is the massive black-and-white architecture.

But, boy is it dark inside. So how can you get a clear shot? My technique (which of course, is totally covered by world copyright laws and must never be copied), is to pre-focus the lens on the ceiling, set it on a suitable depth of field (normally f8), choose the two or ten second self-timer and then carefully place the camera on the floor, press the shutter and walk away. Doing this allows you to get a good shot at ISO 100, with far less noise and clarity than everyone else. All those folk I see walking round the cathedral banging off picture after picture are going to be sorely disappointed...

Here's an example of pillar photography. Hold the camera carefully against a pillar, squeeze the shutter button and don't let go till the end of the exposure or the exposure bracket if shooting a sequence for HDR
You can also do a similar thing by holding the camera against a pillar although you are somewhat limited by the angles available. It usually works well.

If Plan A doesn't work because there's not enough floor space, go to Plan B and buy a calendar...

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Bar Centrale, Bevagna

It's been a hectic, history-filled, and totally enjoyable Grand Tour of Italy tour so far. With Sorrento, Paestum, Pompei, Herculaneum and Rome behind us we are taking stock and exploring the countryside of Umbria centered around the medieval town of Bevagna
Besides day trips to Spoleto and Montefalco the highlight for this leg was clearly the hill-top town of Assisi (HDR pano below). Amazing for its religious pilgrimages but especially so because of the beautiful frescoes painted by Giotto in the main cathedral. But, for a photographer this is a tough location simply because you are not allowed to shoot inside the church - OK, OK, the frescoes are hundreds of years old, but..

Here's a quick panorama of the town, shot using HDR of course, to add a bit of added detail to the sky. End of the day we retired to the Bar Centrale in downtown Bevagna for a drink and debriefing on what we have seen to date...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

One night in Rome: HDR

My first night in Rome. A few HDR night shots just for fun. Tripod and a few very long exposures..

Thursday, 6 September 2012

New Eye-Fi Cards

I have just bought an 8Gb Eye-Fi SD card. This is a regular 8Gb card with an inbuilt WiFi capability. Once you have the card activated (via the Eye-Fi Site in a web browser) it automatically transfers images from the Eye-Fi card, to your computer. It works as fast as your home wireless setup works. 
It sells for around $108 (the model pictured). The Eye-Fi card I bought is an 8Gb, Class 6 read/write card with 802.11 wireless capabilities (whatever that means...).
What the Eye-Fi card does in reality is quite incredible. In the box you get an SD card, plus an SD card reader. Plug the reader into the computer, follow the install prompts and load the application. It takes a few minutes. When the app is fully loaded, you get a message onscreen to remove the card.
Place the card into the camera and, via the DSLR menu, turn the wireless functionality 'On'. (I use a Canon EOS D60 - in the Menu, choose the first yellow wrench icon and you'll see the Eye-Fi menu. Turn wireless on). You only see the menu if the card is in the camera...

Take a snap and the image is transferred to your PC/Mac. You automatically get an email notification from Eye-Fi that 'x' number of pictures have been transferred to your PC/Mac. You can either leave it at that, or, via, manage your images using the online image browser to sort,name and distribute photos to locations like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Files are held for free for seven days, then deleted off the Eye-Fi server.

If you want to keep them online, Eye-Fi offers cloud image storage for $49/year - but I could not find out how much data $49 might buy you.

Eye-Fi also has a feature called Endless Memory. What this does is automatically delete images from the card once they are transferred so effectively, Yes, you can keep shooting because the card (theoretically) never fills up. A neat concept. 

There are three types of Eye-Fi card:
Connect X2 
  • Endless memory
  • Automatic photo & video upload
Mobile X2 
  • 8GB memory storage
  • Endless memory
  • Automatic photo & video upload
and Pro X2

  • Wireless RAW upload
  • Wi-Fi based geotagging
  • 8GB memory storage
  • Endless memory
  • Automatic photo & video upload
These sell for $58, $88 and $108 respectively (