Cabo traffic’s night moves
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/10th of a second at f/4.5 on ISO 640
Cars, motorcycles, buses and rickshaws swung by me one evening while I was in the heart of Cabo San Lucas. With the neon signs hanging above many of the shops and the sky still deep blue, I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity to drag my shutter and play with what images I could create.
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/5 on ISO 640
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/5th of a second at f/13 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 4/10ths of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 200
When practicing motion photography, I like to try different techniques. I switch between keeping the subject sharp by panning in sync with its movement and panning out of sync so that only a small part is sharp or the whole thing has a large or small amount of blur that pushes the image into an abstract shot.
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/4 on ISO 640
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/3.5 on ISO 640
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 3/10ths of a second at f/8 on ISO 640
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/4th of a second at f/10 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/6th of a second at f/13 on ISO 1600
For the better part of an hour, the traffic kept me happily occupied while I waited for my bus to arrive.
Canon 5DIII with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 lens: 1/15th of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 3200
Covering Shwe Dagon in gold
The Shwedagon Zedi Daw is a nexus point for Myanmar’s Buddhists. It’s history goes back more than 2600 years and it is an amazing place of humanity, faith and spirituality. The main stupa is sheathed in gold foil as are many of the parapets and other buildings on the grounds. I went there twice when I visited Myanmar in 2010 and think I could return many more times and always find new things catching my eye. On my second visit, I watched these workers gilding a new, or maybe restored, tower. It was a hot day and while one gentleman found a ball cap to be sufficient protection, the other preferred a more encompassing head cover. This was detailed work and they were attentive to the task at hand. I had to wait a little while until one of them looked up from the tower and glanced out over the crowds walking around Shew Dagon.
Abstracts from LA’s freeways
I spent a bit of time as a passenger traversing the interstate freeways that wind through, over and around Los Angeles during our visit there last week. Along the way, my twitchy camera finger got the best of me and I ended up getting pulled into the patterns and chaos realized with the help of longer exposures.
I like playing around to see what can be created as the landscape slides by. With dusk falling in, the warm light played well with the colours in the signs and the vehicles. Lot’s to play with, not much time to do it though. It makes it easy to not get stuck on any one subject! I do really like trying to compose at speed and imagine how the image will look.
When we exited onto the Pacific Coast Highway, which is more like a city street than a highway, the speeds slowed down which allowed for more intentional image making in a way. I liked the sunset image above but grew bored and introduced camera movements to create crazy lines from the lights standing out now against the dark surroundings. Things started out relatively controlled but then…
… things got a little more wild before the ride ended.
We caught the last light on the west coast from our balcony overlooking Aliso Beach.
Sunset at Cathedral Rock
(please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)
Bobbi and I are in Sedona, Arizona for a few days this week. We drove into the town yesterday and went exploring down at the Red Rock Crossing for a couple of hours until nightfall. I haven’t been here before so Bobbi is in the role of guide and I am the happy follower.
We went to this location which is split by Oak Creek. The cool waters drew a number of small groups and families offering respite from the 42°C (108°F) heat of the day. We hiked along the riverside trails and photographed reflections in the water, the towering red rocks that backstop the area as well as a couple of lizards. A beautiful place to escape the heat.
What makes this place a destination for landscape photographers are the views of Cathedral Rock and the opportunity to work with its reflections in the creek. At sunset the last sunlight of the day makes the rocks glow. Last night did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time playing with the elements at hand.
Banff Wildlife – Bull Elk Above Two Jack
I drove along the Lake Minnewanka road last weekend with plans to photograph the sunrise from a bluff above Two Jack Lake that affords a great view of the lake along with Mount Rundle in the background. Parking at a pullout near my intended spot, I started setting up my gear when I noticed a female elk standing near a tree about 20 metres away. It was still dark out but I could see her staring at me so we played that game for a few minutes. It was too dark to shoot and she seemed pretty relaxed so I was happy to just watch her. Then, I saw some movement behind her and a bull elk stood up and shook the snow off. She might have been happy to stay there but he wanted to get a bit of separation so they hopped the snow bank onto the road and, after clearing the bank on the far side, climbed the hill to the edge of the forest. At this point, the light was brightening quickly and by raising the ISO on my camera I was able to take the image above of the bull staring at me from the top of the hill. I thought they were going to continue into the forest but when I reviewed the picture in the LCD on the camera, I noticed the female’s ears in the lower left corner of the picture and realized she was laying down.
They were in no hurry to disappear so I stayed on the far edge of the road from them and photographed the bull with his amazing antlers. These are among the best balanced racks that I have seen and one of the largest. Really impressive and when he licked his chops I had a fleeting image of him using them on me. That idea didn’t take hold as his body language did not suggest any agitation. He stayed on this little rise for the time while I was there and the cow got up once but stayed low and mostly out of sight.
I tried not to take it personally when he stuck his tongue out. It’s a funny look that’s hard not to anthropomorphize a bit.
Even while scratching his leg, the elk kept one eye on me presumably to avoid being surprised by any movements I might make.
Switching lenses for a wider composition you can see the first light colouring the peak of Cascade Mountain above the forest.
I left them just before sunrise as he was turning his attention towards the trees. I piled my gear back in the car and headed down to the Bow Valley Parkway and, as it turned out, to a pair of wolves.
2010 Favourite Photographs – Landscapes
I photographed a pretty wide variety of landscapes through last year. Here are the ones that, for one reason or another, stand out to me.
A full moon setting over the mountains above Elbow Falls in Kananaskis, Alberta.
Sulphur Mountain and a shrouded Mount Rundle are reflected in the Third Vermilion Lake in the Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
The blowing snow, bright sunshine and cool colours showed a lot of the moods of the Canadian Rockies.
Sunset on the Elbow River as it was tightly wrapped in winter’s trappings.
Silhouette of the Rocky Mountains against clouds lit up by the setting sun.
Springbank sunset just west of Calgary, Alberta.
Sunrise over a prairie marsh in Springbank.
A scenic farmstead on the Prairies south of Gull Lake in Saskatchewan.
A storm rolling east out of the Rockies and onto the Albertan Prairies.
First snowfall in Kananaskis at Barrier Lake in September.
A stand of trees long dead cast ghostly reflections in a small lake near Elbow Falls in Kananaskis, Alberta.
A long exposure of the rocks and ocean along Sunset Beach near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Bagan in Myanmar provided an incredible setting for landscape photography. I was able to enjoy sunrises, sunsets and even shoot from a hot air balloon while I was there in February.
We spent New Year’s Eve at our friends’ home, the Folk Tree Lodge, in Priddis. This was one of my last photographs from 2010 and certainly a favourite of mine.
2010 was a great year. I’m looking forward to this new one.
2010 Favourite Photographs – People
Nuns at prayer in a convent in the Sagaing Hills in Mandalay, Myanmar in Southeast Asia.
In 2010, I made a goal that I wanted to photograph people more. My first love is nature photography (landscapes and wildlife) but the more portraiture, street and travel photography that I do, the more I enjoy it. To support this extension of my art, I have attended lighting workshops, read a wheelbarrow full of books, tried to spend more time photographing humans and shared some of the knowledge gained with other photographers in my ecosystem.
Much to learn and practice yet but 2010 was a good step forward. I’m excited to build on this momentum and see where the people I photograph in 2011 take me.
Here are some of my favourite images from last year.
My trip to Myanmar in February was a really wonderful experience. Photographically, this land is fantastic for the variety of people, cultures, landscapes and other opportunities. Here I wandered through Yangon’s Chinatown and was able to have a few good conversations with the residents as they spoke Mandarin as a first language instead of Burmese.
I was fascinated by these young men who ran blocks of ice from trucks, up the cobblestone street to these ice crushers and then back down to the dock for the fish to be packed in. Very hard work done barefoot without any breaks through the morning while the fish are being shipped out around the city and beyond.
This marble carver in Amarapura works in his family’s yard along a street filled with stonemasons. These craftspeople create incredible statues from the alabaster mined from the hills in the surrounding Mandalay area. Again, very hard work.
The monks of Southeast Asia are magnets for many photographers, and I was no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with many of these men that I met and loved photographing them in their surroundings.
A very kind man who I gestured and chatted with briefly in Old Bagan after he motioned me over to have a look at my camera. He was happy to let me photograph him and gave this picture a nod when I showed him the screenshot.
Probably the coolest guy I met in Myanmar. This gentleman had a group of younger monks and lay people circling him and they were having an animated conversation which I enjoyed watching as much as I enjoyed making this photo.
The younger monks line up to receive offerings from the community, grateful for the dedication of these boys and men to the faith they all share. The food collected is distributed among the monks and eaten in silence. A large portion is distributed outside the brotherhood to the less fortunate who wait patiently for the monks to hand it out. There is a dignity among even the poorest which can be glimpsed in the photograph of the man below but I was not able to wholly present here.
The monks showered using metal bowls. A fast shutter speed froze the droplets and the motion of this simple action.
In Amarapura while walking through a monastery, I looked in on this monk as he swept the courtyard seemingly lost in the repetition.
My children always figure prominently in what I’m up to and here are just a couple of what could be a near infinite series of photos of them through the year.
A couple of black and white portraits to complete this set.
Thank you for scrolling through a few of the highpoints of the year with me.
Highway 8 – a road between city and country
Highway 8 starts about 30 kilometers west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada and runs through the open prairie around Springbank directly east into the city. When I do go into Calgary, this is the road I usually take and, in the winter, it is often during daybreak on the way in and dusk when I’m heading home. I’m working on a longer term project on roads, what is at either end, what springs up in between and how we move along them. These photographs have been shot with this project in mind but, equally, as an acknowledgement of this particular stretch of asphalt that I spend a fair amount of time traversing.
The mountains dominate the view once I clear the city and heading west. With great ease they pull me out of the work mind and back into my personal space. The longer drive is appreciated on those days when a longer transition is needed.
The Calgary Zoolights – 2010
It was chilly at the zoo wandering the pathways last night amid a cold breeze off of the Bow river. It was worthwhile though as Bobbi and I were surrounded by over 1,500,000 Christmas lights!
(click on any of the photographs for larger images)
This annual event runs from November 26 to January 2 this year. Most of the zoo is wrapped in lights taking the shape of animals, dinosaurs, sleighs, jungle scenes and a lot more. We went last year and it was -30°C plus the windchill which made it a bit too cold for more than a few photographs as I was attending a party and was not bundled up. This year I had longjohns, two sets of gloves and some good layers on so I was able to enjoy the walk more. We were both bundled up but Bobbi’s boots let her down a bit – nothing serious. We had no trouble having a great time.
I had to hunt this creature down…
… but I finally got clear of the forest of lights for a clean shot.
This year I brought my tripod as well because I wanted to make long exposures and play with some zooming techniques during these slower shutter speeds.
Here is a straight long exposure of the jungle scene.
And here is the same composition with the addition of the twist of the zoom lens. You can do this handheld as well but using a tripod you get straight zoom lines and I find I have better control over the speed of the zoom and how the effect looks.
Here are a few other images from last night.
Thank you to the Zoo for putting on such a visually delightful event, my wife for humouring me as I doddled along in the cold and my parents for spending the evening with the kids.
Two weeks until the big day but in case I don’t see you between now and then, Merry Christmas!
Calgary’s C-Train Commute
Working with a slow shutter speed, I wanted to see what kind of detail I could of the commuters riding into the downtown core on one of Calgary’s light rail transit trains. For this image I panned with the train as it sped past, trying to pivot quick enough to briefly match the rail car’s velocity. The goal being to capture the detail inside the train while blurring the scenery outside. This technique has been applied to all types of motion by many photographers and creates an interesting effect.
Click on the image for a larger version
Exposure details: 1/13 second, f/4.0 at ISO 400 using a Canon 1D Mark III with 70-200 lens at 200mm.
National Geographic – Travel Photo of the Week
One of my photographs of the fishermen of Inle Lake in Myanmar has been selected as the travel photo of the week on the National Geographic website. Here is the link.
[click for a larger image]
That’s pretty cool – now if I could just angle for an assignment from the yellow border.
Encounters on Inle Lake
I am preparing entries for the Travel Photographer of the Year contest and reworked some of my images from Inle Lake in Myanmar that I made in February.
I have done a couple of posts (here and here and here) on these fishermen before. I still really enjoy this collection of images from the three days I spent on the lake.
Very good people I met on the water. I look forward to the next encounters I have on Inle somewhere down the road.