Thursday, April 30, 2009

A sea of possibilities

This is something I really want to explore: photographing seascapes at sunset, taking advantage of the light's reflection on the water and of the blurred wave motion caused by low shutter speeds.

The photo below is promising: nice light/shadow contrast on the wet stone surface and beautifully blurred waves. It can be improved, though. Maybe this Summer...

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Planar 50/1.4

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The new Pentax K-7

No, I will not post rumors/leak photos/comments/wish lists/speculations on the new DSLR camera that Pentax will be releasing in May.

Instead, I'll take my K10D (which does not do video, does not have Live View, does not have 100% viewfinder, is not compact, does not have good high ISO performance, does not have built-in GPS, does not have a large display, only does 3 fps and only has a 10M cropped sensor) and spend some time taking photos. Yes, despite all its limitations, the K10D does take photos. And some good ones too!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fishing harbor

Fishing harbors are always a good place to look for photo subjects. Here's a couple from Esposende, in the Northern Portuguese coast.

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8

I remember, when I was a kid, that the harbor was always busy with seasoned fishermen and the coming and going of boats. Now only a few small boats are still active, as the town's main economic activity has turned to tourism. Sign of the times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yellow and gray

The rough and desolated landscape of Serra d'Arga (a mountain range in Northwestern Portugal) gains an almost eerie appearance in the beginning of Spring, when the thorny bushes become covered with little yellow flowers, creating a beautiful contrast with the gray granite rocks.
Pentax K10D + Zeiss Distagon 25/2.8

Friday, April 17, 2009

5000 B.C.

Megalithic tombs are common in Portugal, specially in the South, where these photos were taken. This particular kind of tomb is called a dolmen, where several upright stones form a chamber that is topped with a larger horizontal slab. After being finished, these structures were covered with earth, forming small rounded hills, some of which still exist.

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Planar 50/1.4

Some of these tombs go back as far as 5000 B.C. Each stone weighs several tons. The effort that those prehistoric people had to perform to build these structures is certainly impressive. But even more impressive is that the sole purpose of all this was to honour their dead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cheap "studio" lighting

These photos were made in an improvised studio, using two 100W tungsten projectors (bought at a hardware store) mounted on low-cost tripods, a black card as background and some of my wife's flowers. The motivation came from a post by Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld on her "Photo Quest" blog. Her experiments (and nice results) with a few tulips and a similar setup made me want to try.

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8 + extension tube

One of the projectors was placed above and slightly behind the flowers. The other was next to the camera. I used a light dimmer on the second one, so that I could balance the shadows created by the first projector. I used ISO 400 and f11 or f16 for the shots. The results were quite promising. The undiffused light creates harsh shadows, but this brings out the texture of the petals. I hope to be able to try this again soon and work more on composition and light source placement.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A day at the zoo (III)

Let me finish the series on the trip to Lisbon Zoo with a post dedicated to the "big cats".

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 135/2.8
In some sections of the tiger area, only a strong chicken net and a narrow garden separated the animals from the visitors. That's close-up heaven for any photographer!

The second one below is a white tiger. Not an albino, but a rare genetic phenomenon, apparently only observed on animals in captivity. Don't you just feel like petting that furry nose?

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 135/2.8

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The battle between Light and Darkness

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Planar 50/1.4

Just a humorous picture. The naked tree branches against the lighter sky remind me of the graphic novel series "The Incal", published in the 80's by Moebius/Jorodowsky, and the way the "Great Darkness" is depicted trying to overwhelm the Universe.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

White walls

This is a photo of abandoned animal stalls in a farm converted to rural tourism. I loved the luminosity of the white walls, in a February late afternoon. A lot of the photo's original vibrance was lost in the JPEG conversion, though.

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The right background

In close-up photography, the choice of background may be as important as the main subject. In the photo below, a slight change in position allowed getting a lighter background on the left half of the image. I think this blends quite nicely with the out of focus portion of the flower.

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8 + extension tube

In the next photo, the somehow "unreal" look of the image comes from the contrast between the orange petals and the neutral, "empty", background.

Pentax K10D + Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8 + extension tube

work isn't just focusing and choosing aperture. Moving around the subject and studying its interaction with the background also plays an important role.