Marina Bay Sands


Almost two years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Singapore and actually stay at the Marina Bay Sands.  It was an “all-expense” paid trip as part of the Kraft iTaste program, and one night, I decided to slip out and shoot.  Everyone was tired after doing the night safari and had gone to bed, so I was alone.  I went for a walk, armed with my Pentax k-x and Gorillapod, to see part of the city at night and to shoot the hotel – it’s a pretty impressive structure, both day and night.  I didn’t get very far since it was late, but mainly because I focused on shooting the hotel and as a result stayed close by.  I took my time, trying different spots, moving around to include or remove certain elements from the frame.  The Gorillapod sure came in handy, providing an easy way to mount the camera to the bridge railings by simply wrapping the legs around them.  I stayed out for several hours and finally came back at around two in the morning.  It turned out to be a really good shoot and I came back with a few keepers.  Some of them I’ve posted before, but here’s another one to add to the list.

If you are wondering how I got the starburst effect, I shot at a small aperture of f/22.

Marina Bay Sands Between the Bridges

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-x
Lens: DA L 18-55
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/22
4 image HDR, bracketed from -1 EV to +1.7 EV

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Fisherman and Son


The deadline for the K-State international programs photo contest is coming up and I’ve been going through my library trying to pick out my three entries for this year.  Last year I submitted three photos and 2 of them placed – one took first and the other was an honorable mention.  The one that got first place was a photo of the Marina Bay Sands that I took while I was in Singapore for the Kraft iTaste program.  The other one was the coin diver photo.

Because this contest is hosted by the Study Abroad Office, more than just submitting a photo of a beautiful place overseas, I want to emphasize culture and make the viewer wonder or think about the story of the subject within the image.  So in the process of looking for entries, I ran across this photo of a fisherman and his son out on Lake Sebu in the province of South Cotabato in the Philippines.  Lake Sebu is home to one of the many indigenous people groups in the Philippines, the T’boli.  Although the area has been modernized in many ways, you can still easily see things that probably haven’t changed in the last 50 to 100 years.  In this photo the fisherman and his son are paddling back to shore after checking their tilapia nets. Their little canoe looks empty, so they didn’t bring back any fish, so maybe the went out to feed them.  Take a close look at the canoe, it’s been carved out of a single tree trunk.  I wonder how long it took to make it.  Notice the paddle, that’s been hand-made as well, out of bamboo.  Also, the fisherman isn’t riding in the canoe, he’s out on the end.  These are things that I would venture to say, have remained unchanged for many years and give us a glimpse of the “original” culture of the people.

The T'boli Fisherman

 

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-r
Lens: DA-L 55-300
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 230mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/500s

 

 

Fireworks!


Today’s photos are different from what I usually post.  These are not typical HDR images where several photos are captured at different exposures and merged together.  Instead, these are single images with relatively long exposure times – between 3 and 4 seconds.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been behind in processing images.  I’ve been very busy with school so I’ve only now been able to go through some of these and I have many more to go through.  I took these images on July 4 at Wamego.  The independence day fireworks show at Wamego is quite famous in Kansas and may be the best fireworks display in the state.  I thought it was pretty cool and I had fun shooting it.  There were lots of people there with their mats and foldable lawn chairs.

I don’t have very much experience shooting fireworks, but if you think these look great and are wondering how I shot them, I’ll tell you what gear I used and outline the basic steps I took.  When shooting fireworks you need a tripod (this is a must) and a good tripod head.  I have Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT tripod and a Vanguard ABH-230K ball head.  I really like the Vanguard tripods, but I really love their ball heads.  Very solid products.  Next, you need a remote release for your camera either wired or wireless.  I used the Pentax F remote for triggering my Pentax K-5.  For the lens, I used the kit lens, the Pentax DA-L 18-55mm.

July 4th Fireworks Show at Wamego, Kansas

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 23mm
Aperture: f/11
Shutter Speed: 3.9s

I arrived at the show early so I could scout out a good spot where I had a clear view and was up wind of the smoke.  I had the K-5 mounted on the tripod, I set the mode dial to Bulb and set the camera to use the wireless remote.  There are two ways to set the remote in Bulb mode, either you hold the button down for the entire exposure time and release it to close the shutter, or you press once to open the shutter and press a second time to close it.  I can’t remember which way I did it, but either way should work.  I had the ISO set to 200, it should be low so you don’t get noisy images and for the aperture and shutter speed I played around with these during the show until I got what I wanted.  What I noticed was that with larger apertures (less than f/8) I had to use faster shutter speeds so the fireworks wouldn’t be blown out, but because the shutter speed was faster I didn’t get the nice light trails.  So I shot at smaller apertures (f/11) which allowed me to have longer shutter speeds and capture the light trails.  Overall it worked out pretty well.

I did most of the post processing in Aperture.  I used brushes to lighten up the people on the field and darken the sky and add contrast to the fireworks and bring out the colors.  I applied the brilliance filter in Color Efex Pro and sharpened in Photoshop.

I’d appreciate any feedback in the comments.  Thanks!

July 4th Fireworks Show at Wamego, Kansas

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA-L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 3.6s

Big 12 Football Championship: Rushing the Field


This was taken just after the Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Texas Longhorns to secure the Big 12 Football Championship.  Fans (mostly the student section) rushed the field and although it probably wouldn’t have happened, the group of people wearing yellow jackets were stationed around the goal posts to protect them from being taken down.  The reason I wasn’t down on the field was because I wasn’t able to get a press pass to shoot the game from the sidelines.

This panorama was processed using the same technique in the tutorial I wrote.  If you haven’t yet, make sure to check it out.  I’m quite surprised how well this image turned out.  I was shooting in bracket mode, hand holding the camera (no tripod), had the ISO up to 1600 and people were moving all over the place, but there really isn’t any ghosting in the photos.  Photomatix Pro does a really good job of removing it and aligning the source images.  I used to use the Photomatix plugin for Aperture 3, but I stopped a few weeks ago and started using Photomatix Pro because the results are so much better.  You can see the difference here.  The only disadvantage to using Photomatix Pro is that I have to export the original files from Aperture and process them in Photomatix Pro and then import the results back into Aperture, but it’s worth the extra hassle.

2012 Big 12 Football Championship Celebration

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA* 16-50
ISO: 1600
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperture: f/11
15 images stitched into a HDR Panorama using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop

Do you think this image is good enough to get into the student yearbook?

The Fountain at Jardine


I processed a similar image last year, which was taken from the ground, at the end of the pond.  It’s now the image I use for the header of this site and you can also check out my Lights of Jardine post to see it.  This image was taken a few months after the first one.  In this photo I was able to capture the fountain while it was lit up and the long shutter speed (several seconds) made it nice and silky.  I took this from a third floor balcony of one of the apartments, so this is the kind of view you would get if you were living there.

Processing the image proved to be a bit of a challenge.  I used the brushes in Aperture 3 to tune specific parts of the photo, mostly applying the “intensify contrast” adjustment. (I’m thinking about writing a tutorial on how I processed this photo.)  An aperture of f/8 was enough to give the lights a star like effect.  The most challenging part to edit was the edge between the roofs and the sky.  The result of the HDR processing was quite noisy so I used Noiseware to take care of it, although I did loose some detail.  Sharpening was done in Photoshop using the unsharp mask filter.  It does a good job.

The Fountain at Jardine

Some details about this photo:
Camera: Pentax K-5
Lens: DA L 18-55
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 18mm
Aperture: f/8
3 image HDR, bracketed from -2 EV to +2 EV