Recently we visited friends in Utrecht, close to the northern part of the Stadsbuitensingel, a canal almost completely surrounding the center of Utrecht. Popular walking tours never took me to this neighborhood. So, I decided to come back another day during daytime and with my camera.
From the railway station I walked to the place where the river Vecht meets the Stadsbuitengracht, which is near the Weerdsluis (a water lock). It was late afternoon when I arrived at the Nieuwekade. I noticed the soft sun shining on the white houses on the Weerdsingel Westzijde, so I immediately walked to the Bemuurde Weerd Oostzijde, where I could step down to the water level to also capture the reflection of the houses in the water. At the top of the post the resulting picture. Notice the balance between the first tree and the white house at the corner. It still required some processing because the houses on the right were a bit too dark compared to the white houses hit directly by the sun.
From there I walked to the Begijnekade via Van Asch van Wijckskade to take the picture below.
And from there to the continuation of the Begijnekade, crossing a small parking lot to get closer to the water, where you can see the continuation of the Stadsbuitensingel.
These pictures also need to extra processing. The sunlight was already soft, however, I added some extra warmth in it.
After this walk and taking so many nice pictures I will never forget this part of Utrecht. After that, back to the hotel to prepare for next-day’s meeting. I really enjoyed the walk, taking the pictures, processing them, and getting them accepted by Dreamstime.
In my previous post on this topic I discussed the preparation of my first corporate photoshoot. Now, a couple of days after the photoshoot, I want to reflect on it.
When I arrived we discussed again the pictures they had in mind. Right after that the team had a discussion about the status of a new product. I took some pictures to capture the atmosphere: commitment, involvement, teamwork.
Later we took a small tour outside in the park to decide about the group picture and the picture of the owners. We decided to take the group picture on a metal bridge in the park (28-300mm lens). So, it would be the group, some bushes, and the bridge, expressing a man-made industrial product in a natural environment.
For the owners of Highstreet Mobile, we decided to shoot them in front of red bricks of an old building (their company is located in this building), standing informally on a slope with a handrail, expressing “joyful climbing to the top through innovation”.
Back in the office I set up the three lighting stands and decided about the location in the office to take the head-shoulders pictures (70-200mm lens). In the background you could see the office as it is, expressing an informal setup of the office of a startup.
Looking back, for me there were two main challenges:
Lightening of office First, the team members often used blinds to avoid outside light on their computer screens, so I had to use flashes to get high quality pictures. Second, the ceiling was low which made it difficult to use it as reflector; you could see the white spots of the flashes in the pictures (14-35mm lens). I was not able to get enough diffuse light in the whole area where the group was sitting. I have not found a solution for that.
Getting the right atmosphere The atmosphere I encountered was one of serious commitment to their new products and one of team effort to address challenges. My pictures express that. The question is whether these pictures help in recruiting new people. I have learnt from this photoshoot that my style of photography, especially for a group of people, comes closer to capturing the atmosphere and not of creating one.
I also enjoyed the postprocessing to further improve the high quality pictures that came out of my camera (D800). It took a bit more effort than usual, because there was a feedback loop to select the right pictures and to crop them for the intended usage.
On the whole, I can say that it was quite a challenge for me, and I enjoyed it. Especially, the interaction with the youngsters that never experienced a photoshoot before.
Last week my daughter asked me to take some pictures of crocheting she makes and sells via her Etsy webshop, DC crochet Design. She was facing some shortcomings of smartphones to do product photography. So, yesterday I grabbed my equipment and turned one of our bedrooms into a small photo studio. I have done something similar before so the first steps were easy.
To put all the focus on the crocheting I used white paper as a background. I used the same equipment as for model shooting, only I used a more narrow roll of paper.
To avoid sharp shadows I used two compact flashes flashing from two different sides through white umbrellas (TTL-mode).
To avoid incoming daylight I set the Exposure Time to 1/160th of a second.
This is the way it looked like.
As a camera I used my Nikon D800 and the Nikkor 28-300mm as a lens. I set the Commander Mode such that the two compact flashes on the side flashed and that the built-in flash did not.
During the shoot my daughter and I checked the pictures to make sure that things were working out the way we wanted it. Here are some of the challenges I was facing:
The white background is not white at all Compact flashes are of course not as powerful as studio flashes. I have only one studio flash, so I decided to use two almost identical compact flashes. In Lightroom it is very simple with the adjustment brush to increase the exposure to make sure that the white background is really white.
Not the whole embroidery is sharp In most of the pictures the whole crocheting had the same distance from the camera. In this case f/8 suffices. However, I did not realise that the Depth of Field was pretty small. Afterwards, I calculated that at 115 mm and with f/8 or f/10 the DoF is only a few centimeters. Too small as you can see here. The bottom of the iPhone is not sharp.
From this I learned that I have to shoot a bit further away, with a wider angle than 115mm (for example, 50mm, and crop later), and at least f/16 or f/22 (all increase DoF).
Colours are not identical to original I fiddled around a bit with the temperature to match the colours of the original.
Andorra is a small country in the Pyrenees, a mountain range between France and Spain. It is a paradise for both skiers and hikers.
One hike took us to the north-western side of Andorra (Arcalis). Before starting I turned on the Komoot app on my iPhone to register my hike. I do this also to keep track of the the location where I took my pictures (see below). First we took a ski lift to take us all the way to the border between France and Andorra (the straight line on the map below).
After getting of the ski lift the first thing you see is this small lake, called Étang de Caraussans, surrounded by mountains in France.
From there we walked to the highest point of our hike: 2690 meters. There you could see three lakes, called Estany de Més Amunt, in Andorra. As you can see, all very impressive.
After taking some more pictures I walked all the way down to the starting point of the ski lift at 2220 meter. To be honest, I was glad I had taken the ski lift to get up.
Back at home I ingest my pictures in Photo Mechanic, I first throw away the bad pictures. Using the trail information from Komoot, Photo Mechanic figures out where I took the pictures (synchronisation is done based on time). Then I make a backup of the NEF-pictures on my NAS.
The next step is to open the pictures in Lightroom to process them. Although it was sunny, I really had to add quite a bit of liveliness and contrast to the pictures.
After saving them as DNG-pictures, I decide which pictures I will upload to Dreamstime. Within a couple of days I heard that all of my pictures were accepted. To give the buyers the opportunity to buy a DNG format of the picture, I also upload these. Furthermore, I do a bit of advertisement on Facebook.
Here you see all of the pictures I took during several hikes in Andorra (made with jAlbum). Enjoy!
Above you see the original NEF and the processed JPG of a picture taken in Peru that is submitted to Dreamstime.
After coming home of a very inspiring trip to Peru I was really looking forward to seeing the results on my 27″ iMAC. Of course, I had a first glimp during the trip with the HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA2, however, this was just to make sure that the backup worked.
Seeing the NEFs, I was quite disappointed. They lacked vibrance, I missed all the nice colors I remembered. Apparently, the very strong, unfiltered sun makes the colors bleak. Luckily, Adobe LightRoom can help.
Here are the steps I used to post-process the picture in Adobe LightRoom 6.1.1 (apologies for the Dutch):
Set the White Balance to Daytime
Sharpen the picture a bit
Set the Lens Correction for the specific lens I used (Nikon 28-300mm); this removes the dark corners which are mainly visible in the blue sky.
Reduce Highlights to get more balance between the highlights and the shadows
Increase Shadows to open up the dark areas
Get more colors by increasing Vibrance and Saturation
Increase Contrast to make the picture more vivid
Highlight the snow on the mountains by increasing Whites
Increase or decrease the Lightning to finalize the picture
Of course, for most of them there is no specific order. You change the settings a bit to get the result you have in mind. Below you see the result.
For more pictures of Peru accepted by Dreamstime, click here. Enjoy!