Urban Landscape + Lifestyle Photography

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Rainy Breda Nights: Extra sparkle and more reflections

Cyclist on Rain Soaked Streets - Breda, Netherlands

Cyclist on Rain Soaked Streets – Breda, Netherlands

When I last talked about Breda, over 2 months ago, I showcased urban night photography. This time, a slight variation. Although its only been 4 months since my business trip to the Netherlands, I almost forgot how much it rained over there. In today’s post, see how a little water can add magic to night photography.

When I was in Breda, I didn’t particularly appreciate the rain but it did add an extra sparkle to these night-time photos. I ventured through the historic core, umbrella in hand, to capture some shimmer. It required more effort after a long day’s work but I think it was worth it. Look at these glorious reflections.

Koningin Wilhelmina Paviljoen - Breda, Netherlands

Right next to Breda Castle, I caught this nicely proportioned building between rain showers. It was blue hour too, which contrasts wonderfully against the orange lights.

Nighttime Shimmer - Breda, Netherlands

I’ve featured this street before, during the day. I love the proportions here between the street, buildings and trees, plus the gentle curve at end. You don’t often see these details in the U.S., especially without the clutter of cars.

Purple reflection, Fly-N-HY Coffee Shop - Bread, Netherlands

As you may know, they don’t sell coffee in Dutch Coffee Shops. If you don’t get my drift, look at the name of the establishment. I don’t drink coffee or smoke so I didn’t go. I’m much happier capturing the neon reflections instead.

Lonely and Wet Cafe - Breda, Netherlands

As you imagine, the outdoor cafes were underutilized. But surprisingly, on drier nights, they are crowded late into the night, even on weekdays.

A shiny shopping street - Breda, Netherlands

I end with one the main shopping streets with the Grote Church standing dimly at the end. The smooth cut stone and the store lights create such beautiful reflections.

I shot these photos with Fujifilm X100S which did an admirable job, I think. To prevent over exposure on the light and reflections, I dialed in -1/3 to -2/3 stop of exposure compensation on most of these photos. I also shot HDRs with my Olympus E-PM2 which will give a different look. I’ll post those in the future so you can compare.

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I took all the photographs with the Fujifilm X100S in JPEG and post processed with Aperture 3.

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Make sure to click on the photographs to a see larger version. Hover over the photos to see the picture details.



A Fashion Show at the Four Seasons

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

W by Worth Fashion Show – Austin, Texas

Here’s something different, for a change of pace. Last Friday, my photographer friend Mark invited me to shoot a fashion show with him. They had it at the top of the Four Seasons Residences in downtown Austin. The Residences, located next to the Four Seasons Hotel, is one of a new breed of high-end condominiums that’s become popular. I’ve shot fashion shows in the past and coupled with a spectacular view, I thought it might be a fun way to start the weekend.

Downtown Austin from the Four Seasons Residences  - Austin, Texas
Downtown Austin from the Four Seasons Residences  - Austin, Texas

As expected the view is spectacular. As I look at the sprouting towers, it’s obvious that Austin is no longer just a midsize college town. There’s probably a dozen or so significant buildings being built or in the planning stages. Austin continues to explode. Walking around on the 32rd floor of this swanky oasis, it’s hard to believe it’s that same place I move to, 23 years ago.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

I didn’t know what to expect so I casually brought my Canon 6D with a 70-200mm f4 IS for the runway show. I also packed my Fujifilm X100S for taking more intimate candids. The room was nicely scaled for the event but I found that even 70mm was a tad long. In retrospect my 24 – 105mm f4 would have worked better. I shot at an angle as 25 models presented the W by Worth Collection that was on display that night.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

I used a bounce flash for even illumination without that typical flash look. The fill and ambient mixed well and, set at ISO 3200, the image quality looked great with the 6D. Luckily this was indoors so that I could use indirect flash and luckier still it protected us from the torrential downpour mid-show.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

The cream walls and ceiling added a nice warmth for the bounce flash. Here’s an interesting comparison. I shot only one runway photo with the Fuji, in ambient light. That’s the photo on top with a 35mm point of view. Compare that with the warm bounce flash shot with the 6D at 78mm.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

More than the catwalk, what I really like is taking candids before and after the show. This type of shooting taps into the street photography aspects that I like. I used the X100S for these shots. A small unimposing camera but with high image quality.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

I also did cover shots, that documented the event. Little peripheral details that captures the flavor.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas
W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

Afterwards, I shot group portraits of the models and the guests.

W by Worth Fashion Show - Austin, Texas

I’ll spare you from endless stream of posing models but I wanted to highlight this photo. Unlike the super serious fashion shows with sickly and serious looking “pros” the models here are amateurs. You can tell because they are smiling, happy and they showed personality. Much better than the typical shows.

Downtown Austin from the Four Seasons Residences  - Austin, Texas

I’ll leave you with this moment that I caught before the show and before the rain — guests taking in the view with the ubiquitous smart phones. The tall tower to the left is the Austonian, probably the swankiest of the luxury condos in Austin. At 56 stories and 684 feet tall, it claims to be the tallest all-residentail building in North America west of the Mississippi. Proof that Austin is no longer a sleepy college town.

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I took most of the photographs with the Fujifilm X100S in JPEG and post processed with Aperture 3. I also used a Canon 6D with the Canon 70-200mm L f4 IS lens.

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Make sure to click on the photographs to a see larger version. Hover over the photos to see the picture details.



I’m giving a free talk on HDR in Austin and you are all invited

Broken Spoke - Austin, Texas

Broken Spoke – Austin, Texas

HDR has some passionate fans and strong detractors. Some call it Technicolor Clown Vomit, others think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. My view is somewhere in between. I think of it as a powerful technique to be used at appropriate times. I’m also lazy and want to do HDR in the easiest way possible way while maintaining quality and matching my “vision” of what I want.

My talk on HDR will discuss the capture process, the photography part using the camera as well as the HDR post processing on computer. Along the way, I will talk about HDR Myths and the best times to use this technique.

Of course, I’ll talk about equipment and tell you why the DSLR might not necessarily be the best camera. I’ll also show you a live demonstration of HDR software and the other steps I use to create my realistic HDRs.

Come join me at the September Austin Photographic Society Meeting for this free talk.

Time: Thursday September 25, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:30pm.
Location: Parish Hall, Episcopal Church of the Resurrection
Address: 2110 Justin Lane, Austin, TX 78757
Map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=2110+Justin+Lane%2C+Austin%2C+TX+78757

Note: Parish Hall is East of the church building and its parking is accessed from Justin Lane. The parking lot entrance is directly across from where Muroc St. intersects Justin Lane.

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Impromptu Football Photography: How I ended up at Taco Shack Bowl again

2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas

2014 Taco Shack Bowl – Austin, Texas

File this under, “you never know when you’ll be shooting, so always have a camera with you.” It was Thursday night and I was going to my monthly Austin Photographic Society meeting. These meetings are lectures so I had no need for a camera but decided to bring one anyway. The Fuji X100S is small enough that it wouldn’t get in the way.

After the meeting, I was at dinner with a few of the folks when my wife called requesting me to pick my son. He was at the Taco Shack Bowl, the first High School Football game between rivals Anderson and McCallum. I was there last year with my family shooting with the Canon 6D.

2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas
2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas

A 35mm equivalent view is not what I call a typical football focal length. The photographers there were armed with long beefy f2.8 telephotos. But I got satisfactory images last year with a 40mm lens on my 6D. I like shooting documentary style more than as a sports photographer.

2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas
2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas
2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas

I shot on both sides of the field. The game was close and quite exciting, actually. While my son originally was expecting to go home at 10pm, the excitement kept us there until past 11pm. The game coupled with my love for photography made the hour pass in an instant.

2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas
2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas
2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas

I experimented with motion blur. Despite not having image stabilization, the X100S’s gentle leaf shutter allows me to handhold at 1/15 of a second. At times, I get some keepers even at 1/8.

2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas
2014 Taco Shack Bowl - Austin, Texas

Anderson won this year, reversing last year’s loss. Final score 33 to 23. I’m told throughout the bowl’s history the two schools are pretty much even. I’m glad I had a good camera with me, even though the X100S wouldn’t be the typical choice for football. Hey, maybe next year, I’ll figure out how to get on the field with a long lens.

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I took all the photographs with the Fujifilm X100S in JPEG and post processed with Aperture 3.

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Make sure to click on the photographs to a see larger version. Hover over the photos to see the picture details.



Photo Essay: The Royal Hawaiian in Morning Light

Blue Vase, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii

Blue Vase, Royal Hawaiian – Honolulu, Hawaii

There are two grand old hotels in Waikiki. The Moana Surfrider which is the oldest built in 1901, and this one, the Royal Hawaiian built in 1927. They are both beautiful but the Royal Hawaiian is more ambitious with generous hallways and spacious porches. Its unique exterior has earned it the nickname “Pink Palace of the Pacific”.

Morning Light, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii
Comfortable Green Chairs, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii

As part of my early morning photo walk, I shot with the Olympus E-PM2 on tripod and created atypical black and whites. I also used the Fujifilm X100S to shoot these handheld images of the Royal Hawaiian in the early morning light. The place was understandably quiet at 6:45am. I had fun documenting the gracious spender, a remnant of a bygone era.

Facing the Jungle, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii
Left Variety, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii

You can tell from the architecture that there is a seamless blending of inside and out. The temperate Hawaiian climate makes this easy and desirable. You don’t see designs like this in Austin. The occasionally chilly but mostly hot weather necessitates a strong defensive barrier from the elements.

Pink Archway, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii
Textured Facade, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii

This outside-in design is not confined to the Royal Hawaiian. Even the modern towers throughout Waikiki share this trait. But you can imagine that many of the post-war minimalist designs don’t have the same level of character or detailing. And no other building dares to be this bold, color wise. White is the usual color which makes this pink structure unique.

Grand Lobby, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii

I shot some really nice wide-angle interior HDRs of this place back 4 years ago. I opted this time to do more freeform shooting. Different cameras and focal lengths encourage me to experiment. I find the 35mm equivalent on the X100S easy to work with, and prefer it over the classic 50mm. The extra width gives me more room to tell a story by capturing more of the environment. But unlike a super wide-angle. the 35 still pulls in details without exaggeration.

A Hallway to the Outside, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii
Small Car at the Grand Entrance, Royal Hawaiian - Honolulu, Hawaii

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I took all the photographs with the Fujifilm X100S in JPEG and post processed with Aperture 3.

If you find these posts interesting, please consider using my affiliate links for any future purchases.
Make sure to click on the photographs to a see larger version. Hover over the photos to see the picture details.