peeks at the world through my lens

Archive for December, 2011

Have you been to Washington, DC?

Being from the area, I have been there innumerable times, yet somehow have very few good snapshots. Seems like we always tend to ignore the places that are closest to home. How many of you are from a big city, but somehow have never seen the touristy places that visitors treasure?

The first image of the Capitol almost got me arrested for twice attempting to set up my tripod on Capitol grounds without permission. On the second attempt, I SWEAR I was shooting from where the first cop told me to stand! But this shot from across the street ended up better thant the first ones anyway..funny how that works.

The second image is a shot of the Supreme Court building. The last image is an HDR from the steps of the Supreme Court looking back at the Capitol. I was happy that I got the flag in there as well. The B&W images were created Silver Efex Pro. HDR image is from 3 bracket images, merged with Photomatix. All images were fine-tuned with Aperture.

Happy Holidays!


Beam me up, Zurich!

ISO 200, f11, 1/30 sec, 10-24@10mm

Paradaplatz Tram stop in Zurich, Switzerland. This is my favorite HDR that I have created to date. It is actually one of the first HDR images that I made. It is also one of the first shots that I took with my then-new 10-24mm lens which I LOVE. I was very flattered when a friend of mine asked if they could hang this image on their wall. He actually printed it on metal and framed it, which ended up looking really nice.

The title of todays blog entry is derived from the fact that this image reminds me of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. The image was created from three handheld bracketed images at -2, 0, +2 and merged with Photomatix. Final tweaking and cropping was with Aperture. Thanks for visiting.

Monday Blues, French Riviera style…

It is Monday and I am at work. I can think of a few other places I would rather be right now….

This shot was taken on a warm fall evening from the patio of the Chateau de Cassis, high atop the cliffs in the French village of  Cassis on the French Riviera.  Cassis is a village situated east of Marseille in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France.

Cassis makes for a wonderful alternative or much needed break from the larger and more tourist infested Mediterranean coastal destinations of Marseille, Cannes, and Nice. In addition, it makes a PERFECT jumping off point for driving adventures in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France. Stay tuned for more pics form the coast and from deeper in the Provence region! Have a nice Monday…


Try breaking THIS bank…

…I couldn’t!

This is a picture of the Monte Carlo Casino. The casino is designed in the Neo-Baroque-inspired style, popular during the Beaux-Arts period in France, by the French architect Charles Garnier. Construction of the casino was completed in 1863.

I visited this casino back in 1976 with my family when we lived in Europe. My siblings and I were extremely disappointed to find out that children (us) were not allowed inside. From the steps I noticed that there was one slot machine that we could see from outside, so I asked my dad to go and play that one…and damned if he didn’t hit the jackpot on about the third coin! Lights were spinning..bells and whistles blaring..attendants even brought over a bucket to collect all the coins that were spewing from the mouth of the machine! Unfortunately, the layout of the casino has changed since 1976. The slots are no longer viewable from the outside, or surely history would have repeated itself when I visited this year with my family!

This shot is composed of three handheld bracketed images at 2-stop intervals. I processed HDR with Photomatix, and touched up with Aperture.

Snaps from Venice, Italy

Since it seems that Venice is such a popular topic, I wanted to post a few more random images before I move on to another location. I hope that these will bring back fond memories to those who have visited and inspire those who have not to perhaps start planning their next holiday itinerary. It truly is a unique destination!

Serenity on the Grand Canal

Click to enlarge "Serenity on the Grand Canal"

In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
    And silent rows the songless gondolier;
    Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
    And music meets not always now the ear:
    Those days are gone--but Beauty still is here;
    States fall, arts fade--but Nature doth not die,
    Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
    The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!
~ George Gordon Byron

Plains of Provence from Les Baux-de-Provence

This is the view looking west over the beautiful plains of the Provence Valley region in southern France. This shot was taken from the ruined castle of Les Baux-de-Provence and its spectacular position on a rocky outcroping in the Alpilles mountains. This view has been enjoyed for millenia,  and human habitation has been documented here dating back as far as 6000 BC. The town flourished in the Middle Ages and reached its Golden Age during the Renaissance , only to have the castle and portions of the village destroyed during a revolution in the 1600s.

This is an HDR image that was created from three handheld images bracketed by 2 stops. I deviated a little from my normal workflow by tweaking the midrange image wjth Aperture BEFORE merging the three images  with Photomatix. My usual workflow is to merge and process the images with Photomatix first, then fine-tune the merged image with Aperture. My reasoning was that the merged image that was edited in  Photomatix was NOT a RAW image, thus now had LESS dynamic range, making it less amenable to color and tonal adjustments in Photomatix as well as in Aperture once it was re-imported back for final adjustments. I was much happier with this version than another version that I processed normally.

For all of you HDR protographers, please let me know if you have experienced similar workflow variability and results, and also if your workflow differs friom mine. I am relatively new to HDR, and still trying to figure out the details.

Thanks for visiting…

Delicate Steps…

Click to enlarge "Delicate Steps..."

ISO 200, f5.3, 1/50 sec, 75-200@157mm

Delicate steps with tenous balance on early morning, rain-slicked cobbles.

This image was taken in Beaune, France, the wine capital of the Burgundy region. I took this shot while attending the annual wine auction of the Hospices de Beaune. During this event, the entire city is transformed into a celebration of all things wine. Perhaps this contributed to his unsteady gait?

This was one , if not the first, image that I manipulated with Silver Efex Pro, which I am finding is a wonderful program for creating B&W images.

Glimpse of the Aegean…

ISO 200, f5.6, 1/500 sec, 75-200@93mm

“Glimpse of the Aegean” was taken on the Greek  island of Santorini (Thira). I feel that this image helps me to visually express the tone and feeling of this wonderful place. The simple yet striking architecture all throughout the island perfectly compliments the rugged volcanic cliffs and visually blends with the amazingly clear-blue Aegean Sea.

I tend to search out holiday destinations that provide a little adrenaline boost, so I was a bit skeptical about visiting Santorini. What a fool I was…this was one of the most relaxing and recharging holidays I have ever had. Great wine, FANTASTIC food, great company, all capped off every night with breathtaking sunsets from our cliff-side patio. Highly recommended!!