portrait

3 November 2014

Mayan Dancer

Posted in: dance, mexico, portrait|

Daily photo – Mayan Dancer

Today I would like to share portrait of a performer taking part in a dance show I watched in Mexico. I really liked his look – vibrant red contrasted with white.

Photo showing dancer during performance in Xcaret in Mexico

Camera Info

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Sony NEX-6 (read my review here)
Lens: Sony E 55-210 f/4.5-6.3
Focal length: 84 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 1250
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Technique: long-exposure
Software: Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity
9 June 2014

400k views on 500px & Meet Bruce

Posted in: london, portrait|

400.000 views on 500px 🙂

Another day and another milestone reached on one of my accounts. Just yesterday total number of views of my photos on 500px went beyond 400.000 🙂
You can view all of my photos on 500px here.

Daily photo – Meet Bruce

Meet Bruce. Bruce is made of wax and is one of the many men figures in Madame Tussauds in London. In general going there was a nice experience as otherwise I probably wouldn’t have a chance to meet so many famous people, especially in one place 😉 Not to mention taking photos of them. During the day the museum was very crowded with waiting time to get inside of about 2 hours. So I decided to visit it an hour and a half before it closes… and you know what? It was almost empty at that time 🙂

Below photo was taken with high ISO (3200) because tripods aren’t allowed inside. However, this photo is a proof of what I wrote in this post, i.e. with modern cameras you don’t have to be afraid of using high ISOs anymore. This turned out to be very useful in London museums as most of them don’t allow tripods.

Back to Madame Tussauds. Despite the fact I really enjoyed it, I was a little bit disappointed by a few things. First of all there aren’t that many famous people there as I hoped (maybe my expectations were just too high 🙂 ?). Instead there is now collection of comics heros (Marvel and alike) which is not something I’m really keen on.

Another thing which I myself found a little tasteless or even sad was figure of Hitler (aren’t there people that deserve being “portrayed” more?). I understand that he was part of 20th century history but given how much evil things he did I find it really strange that he is in the same room as people who are positive characters. What’s more he’s standing next to figure of Churchill. Finally a lot of people visiting the museum take photo with him (during my visit, more people took photo with him than with any other figure in the room). That’s really sad that so many people don’t understand history and don’t remember it.

Wax figure of Bruce Willis in Madame Tussauds in London

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review here)
Lens: Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM
Focal length: 99 mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure time: 1/30 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 3200
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern, Lightroom 5.4, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity
28 April 2014

Mr Death

Posted in: dance, mexico, people, portrait|

Daily photo – Mr Death

I already shared some images from that ancient Maya dance show before, for instance here and just a few days ago here.

Today I would like to share one more image from this very show. Meet Mr Death himself! From what I understood he was some kind of shaman, doing all the magic during the show.

Maya Dancer

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Sony NEX-6 (read my review here)
Lens: Sony E 55-210 f/4.5-6.3
Focal length: 180 mm
Aperture: f/6.3
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 2500
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Technique: n/a
Software: Lightroom 5.3, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity
26 November 2013

Gorilla portrait

Posted in: animals, portrait, warsaw|

Portrait of gorilla from Warsaw zoo
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.

It’s definitely not my typical photo but I really love to shoot animals. One of my dreams is to go on a safari and shoot in the wild but for now I shoot mainly in the local zoo. I decided to go with B&W conversion because I think it fits this beautiful gorilla much more.

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III
Lens: Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM
Focal length: 300 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure time: 1/250 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 800
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: circular polarizing filter
Technique: luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity

29 August 2013

My muse

Posted in: crete, portrait|

Stepping out of your comfort zone might be difficult but at the same time it can help you greatly in improving your general photography skills. As you know most of the time I’m photographing landscapes, sometimes architecture and I very frequently use HDR, Fusion or manual blending to extend dynamic range. But I often photograph other subjects: from animals in zoo, street scenes to portraits. I take macro photos and action as well. Although I don’t share them very often (because most of the time these photos are nowhere near quality of my typical photos) this helps me to progress and to learn new things. For that reason I suggest you try something similar. Take your camera and go photographing some subjects you don’t feel very comfortable about.

In the case of above photo I placed my girlfriend opposite the sun and used golden reflector to add some light to her face. Using reflector was rather difficult because the conditions were very windy but I’m quite happy with the light I got here. I’m also happy with the natural result I got. Had plenty of fun taking this picture.

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III
Lens: Canon 100 f/2.8 L IS USM Macro
Focal length: 100 mm
Aperture: f/4.0
Exposure time: 1/125
ISO: 200
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Portrait Professional 11, Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC

9 July 2013

Relaxing on the grass

Posted in: animals, portrait, warsaw|

This beautiful gorilla was enjoying his free time by relaxing on the grass and eating some leaves he found there. He was crowded by a large group of people but fortunately I was able to stick my 70-300 between them and take a few portraits of him.

BTW after processing a few more photos taken with 5D MK III I have some further observations. The colour reproduction is slightly better than with 5D MK II (the colours are more natural to me). Also noise tends to be lower despite what some lab tests show (it’s always good to compare not only test photos but also real life ones).

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III
Lens: Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS USM
Focal length: 300 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
Exposure time: 1/250 s
ISO: 800
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: circular polarizing filter
Software: Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC

25 April 2013

Canon 24 f/1.4 L USM II Review

Posted in: animals, astrophotography, Canary Islands, fuerteventura, hdr, landscape, lens, long-exposure, portrait, review|

Canon 5D MK II | 1/160 s | f/1.4 | ISO 200

For a few months now I’m a lucky owner of a Canon 24 f/1.4 L II lens. It’s the fastest prime lens I own and use it for many of my landscape shots and almost for all night landscape shots (including both HDRs and astrophotos).

First some technical specs:

Apertures f/1.4 – f/22
Field of view 84 degree
Minimum focusing distance 25 cm
Filter thread 77 mm
Dimensions 9.35 cm × 8.69 cm
Weight 650 g
Number of aperture blades 8
Auto-focus YES
USM YES
Image-stabilization NO
Price ~ 1800 USD

The build quality is typical for L-series lens and it means it’s excellent. The lens looks and feels very firm, solid and durable (in fact I think this lens looks more solid than most of the other L-lenses). The only downside is that it’s pretty heavy (650 g) and quite large. It also uses 77 mm filter thread.

Sharpness is fantastic across whole frame. It might be a bit soft at f/1.4 (but still sharper than most of the lenses wide-open) but stop it down to just a f/2.8 or f/3.5 to get razor sharp images. However, please note that f/1.4 is still completely usable and I use it with success to capture many night photos.

Chromatic aberration is hard to notice even at f/1.4. There is also no noticeable issues with distortion. Also flares are rather small. Please note that I can compare results here to Canon 24-105 at 24 mm.

One more thing to note is that this lens produces very nice bokeh.

The greatest drawback is large vignetting at f/1.4 (vignetting is really strong!). However, together with very shallow depth of field produced by this aperture it creates interesting effect so it may not be a downside for everyone.

Another is that this lens is quite expensive (it costs about 1800$).

Summing up this short review, Canon 24 f/1.4 II is a truly wonderful lens which I would recommend to anyone serious about landscape photography as well as for anyone shooting in low-light situations (astrophotographers, wedding photographers, etc.).

Pros:
– excellent image quality (great sharpness, low chromatic aberration, low distortion)
– great build quality
– fast and accurate auto-focus
– beautiful bokeh
– very fast aperture

Cons:
– heavy vignetting at f/1.4
– quite expensive
– heavy

Below are a few more sample photos taken with this lens on 5D MK II:

Canon 5D MK II | 1/125 s | f/1.4 | ISO 200
Canon 5D MK II | 1/320 s | f/7.1 | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK II | 1/500 s | f/7.1 | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK II | 30 s | f/1.4 | ISO 100
26 January 2013

Cat portrait

Posted in: animals, portrait|

I really like shooting photos of animals (one of my favourite photos from last year is a photo of jaguar) with one of my dream being going on a safari. It’s something different. You get what animal want to give you and nothing more. Will it play, sit still, look into the lens… it’s totally up to it. You can try influencing its behaviour but it won’t always help much 🙂 With landscapes I also get what nature wants me to give but it’s easier as the landscape at least doesn’t move 🙂

Another thing is shooting black animals. Focusing is tough (one piece of advice – always focus on the nose, if it’s out of focus and even the eyes are sharp the image will look bad…), exposing correctly is tough, using flash is tough (because it might create bright reflections on fur which might result in some crazy chromatic aberration…). Still it’s very nice and I often shoot them.

Here is a portrait of my cat. The background wasn’t white. Don’t know all the fancy colour names but I think it could be classified as beige. I used on camera flash and bounced it off the ceiling. I would prefer another setup but generally my cats are small missiles and they don’t spend anywhere more than a few seconds so I was running after her trying to capture her sitting still 🙂

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 50 f/1.8
Focal length: 50 mm
Aperture: f/3.5
Exposure time: 1/80
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 1
E.V. Step: n/a
Flash used: yes, 580 EX II bounced off ceiling
Tripod used: no
Filters used: no
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Lightroom 4.2, Photoshop CS6