Archive for January, 2010

Sunset Shot from DLWS

Posted in Equipment, Travel with tags , , , , , , , on January 27, 2010 by projectxo

I got this sunset picture while waiting for the lights to turn on at golden gate bridge.  It was shot with a Singh-Ray blue and gold polarizer; this is a neat little filter that turns your picture either gold or blue depending on how you turn the filter.  Again, I believe it was 1 or 2 stops under exposed for drama.

Golden Sunset over SF Bay

Golden Sunset over SF Bay


DLWS Day 3 PM Shoot – Golden Gate Bridge

Posted in Equipment, Lighting, Travel with tags , , , on January 27, 2010 by projectxo

For the final shoot of the workshop, we went to SF Marine Headlands for GGB’s night shot.  It’s actually really easy to do.  2 stop under exposed with camera on tripod.  The key is to wait for the perfect moment where the ambient balances the lights from the bridge and the cars.  Personal taste.

Golden Gate Bridge Sunset

Golden Gate Bridge Sunset

DLWS Day 3 AM Shoot – Muir Woods

Posted in Equipment, Post-Processing, Travel with tags , , , on January 24, 2010 by projectxo

We got a break on day 3.  We got to wake up late – 6AM.  The destination s Muir Woods to get some forest scenes.  I found this little creek with flowing water and spent most of the time trying to get a sharp picture.  The problem is, I was shooting from a wooden bridge.  Every time someone walks by, the tripod shakes!

This is actually not a tricky shot:

– Wide angle lens.  So any aperture will get good depth of field.

– Polarizer.  Used to get rid of the reflections on the water.

– Slow shutter speed to bring out the white water.

Creek at Muir Woods

Creek at Muir Woods

DLWS Day 2: Afternoon Shoot

Posted in Equipment, Lighting, Travel with tags , , on January 22, 2010 by projectxo

We got a chance to shoot at San Francisco Fire Department’s station 34 on day 2.  What’s special about this station is that they have a cost rescue unit with a truck full of special gears for water rescue.  These are the brave people who would jump into the treacherous waters under the Golden Gate Bridge if they have to.

The lady in the picture is Trish Lee.  Joe McNally setup his large Lasolite white translucent  panel with multiple SB-900 flahses.  I decided to borrow his setup and quickly placed a single SB-600 flash behind the white panel.  You can’t go wrong when you follow master!  The trick to this shot is to balance the flash (which is coming from left side, above camera) and the ambient light (which is a combination of day light, truck tail lights, and the flashing gumball lights from the siren).  If the flash is too strong, then it will look unnatural.   If it is too weak, then Trish’s face and upper body will be too dark.

Trish - SFFD Station 34

Trish - SFFD Station 34

Here is the lighting setup (Joe is standing behind the light stand).  Joe has his nice SB-900s clamped to the panel.  My little SB-600 is on the light-stand.

Lighting Setup

Lighting Setup

Sunrise over San Francisco

Posted in Lighting, Personal, Post-Processing, Travel with tags , , , on January 21, 2010 by projectxo

We woke up 4AM the 2nd day to shoot sunrise over San Francisco from Treasure Island.  A storm moved in with really strong wind.  It started raining really hard the night before; everyone’s wondering if we are going to be able to shoot without getting blown away or soaked.  One thing I learned about professional landscape shooter is that weather does not seem to matter; they can shoot in blizzard if there is something interesting. Luckily, as we arrived at Treasure Island, the rain started to taper off.   So we started shooting with some light drizzle, and eventually the rain stopped.  This makes for very dramatic sky as the clouds starts to disperse.  The best time to shoot is when the sun is about to rise; it makes the sky really blue.

This picture was shot with long exposure.  The other thing I learned about landscape photography is that I need a serious tripod.  My travel tripod kept shaking whenever wind blows; which totally messes up the sharpness of the pictures.

How did I get that crazy color?  Was it Photoshop?  No.  The trick is white balance.  I shot it with flourescent WB; which turns the sky a little purple.  Neat eh?

Sunrise over San Francisco

Sunrise over San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge at Night

Posted in Equipment, Personal with tags , , on January 20, 2010 by projectxo

This is from the 2nd day at DLWS San Francisco.  The location is Ft. Point, Presidio.  Sky was really cloudy so before sunset, there was nothing interesting except surfers breaking the waves in the freezing water.  The light on the bridge turned on as we were packing up to go.  I have to move really close to the fence to get a good frame of the south tower and the reflections on the water.

– Shot with aperture priority mode @ 3.5.  I used a relatively wide angle lens so there is enough depth of field at 3.5.  Otherwise, I would have to bump it up to 5.6 or more.

– Camera picked shutter speed at 1/30.  I believe I had it set to 2 stop under exposed to make it dark.  Camera was sitting on a tripod to reduce camera shake.

– White balance was set to auto.

Golden Gate Bridge from Ft. Point, Presidio

Golden Gate Bridge from Ft. Point, Presidio

Happy New Year… 2010!

Posted in Personal, Travel with tags on January 19, 2010 by projectxo

Wow!  I am so lazy.  It’s been a year since I last wrote.  I missed out telling you all on so many exciting shoots last year.   But, first things first.  Last week, I went to Digital Landscape Workshop Series taught by one of my favorite photographers – Joe McNally.  Learned so much about landscape photography!  Here are the tricks!

– Sunrise and sunset.  Everything else in between is just a waste of time.

– Always underexpose.  Try -1 or -2 stops.

Here is a picture from the 1st day sunrise.  I believe I shot it 2 stops under exposed.  Why?  The camera tries to expose your picture to 18% gray.  So if you leave it to the camera, the picture will be much brighter than what you see at sunrise!.  Second, under exposed picture has more colors.

Go give it a try!


Aperture Priority. 2 stop under-expose.