Eight essential tips for taking pictures in the snow.
Thought For The Day
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams
The Azores archipelago is an autonomous region of Portugal that were discovered in the 1400's by Gonçalo Velho Cabral, a monk and explorer. A group of 9 islands, the Azores is located in the mid-Atlantic. The islands enjoy a temperate climate making it an ideal place to visit, regardless of the time of year.
In October 2016, we visited São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores islands. Although October can be a bit wetter than in summer, we experience relatively little rainfall and our daily temperatures ranged between 17°C and 24°C.
So what's there to do in São Miguel? As it turns out a lot, especially if you love outdoor activities, fine dining, exploring centuries old historic buildings, viewing street art, taking photos or relaxing in rejuvenating thermal pools.
Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, is located on São Miguel the largest island and locally called the "Green Island". São Miguel is very lush and a gardeners paradise with flowering hydrangeas everywhere. Ponta Delgada offers many sights including the historic City Gates, pictured above. It's also a great place to discover local restaurants serving fresh Azorean fare. One of our favourite places, Boca de Cena, is run by a single individual that is owner, chef, maître d' and waiter. It's a small restaurant with only 10 tables so it fills up quickly. We would recommend making reservations.
There's a lot to explore in Ponta Delgada, just remember that places often close early (by North American standards) and on Sunday only a few stores and restaurants are open. Be sure to visit the fresh markets, Antonio Borges Park with the large Australian Banyan tree and grottoes, and the various churches such as St. Sebastien's Mother Church. Ponta Delgada is also known for its graffiti, colourful doorways and intricate cobblestone patterns in the street.
As interesting as Ponta Delgada may be, the real Azores can be found by getting out of town and visiting the rugged and picturesque countryside created through volcanic activity. São Miguel still exhibits a lot of secondary volcanic activity such as hot springs although the last time a major eruption occurred was in 1652 on Pico do Fogo. We adventured both east and west. East to see Cete Cidades and Fogo and west to see Furnas.
On our East Island adventure we decided to take a jeep tour through Futurismo. The jeep tour was more intimate than the bus tour and provided better opportunities to explore such as our visit to the Salto do Cabrito waterfall. Our guide was very professional and helped make the tour fun.
We booked a Pure Azores west island tour to see Furnas, the north shore and the Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Nature Park. Our guide was wonderful and helped to make the experience special.
Furnas is arguably the most volcanically active part of São Miguel and is known for its iron-rich hot springs and magnificent parks and gardens. It's also known for its volcanic steam cooked meals, a unique Azorean experience! On the way to Furnas we stopped in the little town of Vila Franca do Campo to try the famous custard pastries made by the local bakery there - Do Morgado.
In many ways São Miguel is a photographers or painters paradise with visual opportunities around every corner. The image of the north shore is just one example.
We took advantage of a vacation package that included flight and hotel. We flew to the Azores through SATA and stayed at the Antillia Hotel Apartamento. The hotel includes short and long term rentals and was conveniently located close to the city center so that we could walk and explore the city.
Text and photos are copyright Eric David
Taking photos during the evening sometimes produces some wonderful results as the extreme contrast between light and dark can contribute into making a stunning photo. However it's very easy to over expose and blow out the highlights in the image. Also shooting with slower shutter speeds (to get the correct exposure) in available light often results in a blurry image. So what should you do?
To ensure that you don't loose detail in the bright areas of the image underexpose by 1-2 stops to ensure that the highlights are usable, then recover the dark areas in Photoshop or another image editing program. Another option is to use the camera's HDR setting. There's a bunch of ways to solve the sharpness problem including using a tripod, setting a high ISO speed on your camera (the drawback though is increased noise in the image), or resting the camera on a firm base (chair, table, ledge, camera bag) and using a remote shutter release or camera timer. The image above was taken using the camera self timer and sitting the camera on a ledge as I didn't have a tripod with me.
There's also various hand held techniques that will improve your chances of capturing a sharp image when shooting with slow shutter speeds. Techniques I've used include steadying the camera against a firm object (light pole, handrail), breathing in and holding your breath while taking the shot or taking a number of shots in rapid succession. One of the shots in the middle of the sequence should be sharp(er).
The images below have been taken with different cameras and lenses and I've used a combination of the techniques described above. If you do decide to take photos of moving vehicles on the highway, just make sure someone else is driving!
Thought for the Day
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” Leonardo da Vinci
Photographers often obsess about sharpness. The sharpness of the lens, the number of megapixels in the camera's sensor, hand held techniques for stability or investing in quality tripods. This obsession is especially true for landscape photographers but also applies to street, sports and portrait photographers.
But photos that freeze the moment sometimes miss that special element. The element that helps to complete the story. The sense of the wind, the flow of water, the movement of dancers, the excitement of participants in a parade.
The photo above captures the coordinated movement of flags at a parade giving a sense of the performance while at the same time providing a sharp capture of the performers faces. I think this helps to transport the viewer into the moment more effectively that a freeze frame capture.
In the photos below the same principle applies by contrasting movement with sharp image elements:
So the next time you're out thinking of capturing the moment, think about incorporating some movement into your photo, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Thought for the Day
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas
Almost every traveler has experienced an airport layover. Layovers can be frustrating, tiring and boring all at the same time. While waiting what do you do? Do you watch the clock for endless hours or spend time browsing shops for things that you don't need?
Well what about doing something different. Think of a layover as an opportunity to take out your camera, look around and observe. Airports provide all types of subject matter from architecture and urban lifestyle to still life and abstract. So at a recent layover I focused on capturing the hustle and bustle of passengers and crew rushing to their destination.
Thought for the Day
Luck isn't just about being at the right place at the right time, but also about being open and ready for the opportunities presented to you.
Have you ever wanted to make your photos more dynamic? Have you wanted to convey a sense of motion or focus the viewer's attention? One nice way to do this is to use your zoom lens and zoom in (or out) while you're taking the shot.
The following photos were taken of a jazz band performing in a night club. Although I like the photos, to me they don't express the energy of the music - the dynamic interplay between band members or the intensity and fluidity of the melody and rhythm.
So, I decided to play with the camera to see what I could capture. In these hand-held photos I was zooming the lens in / out while exposing the image. The trick is to get the shutter speed just right. You don't want the shutter speed to be so fast that there's little or no effect or so slow that the entire image is blurry. Ultimately you have to experiment based on the focal length of the lens and the f-stop setting. Note: If you hover over the images below you'll see shot information.
Another interesting way to create a sense of movement by using lens zooming is shown in the first photo below. The street was closed to vehicular traffic and this incredible flow of people were walking on St. Clair and the streetcar right of way. By zooming the lens I was able to emphasize the flow of people walking past me.
Another way to create visual focus is to rotate the camera. The young woman that's shown in the photo below was deep in thought. By rotating the camera I was able to remove distractions and focus the viewer's attention directly on her.
Thought For The Day
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Pablo Picasso
I've always been fascinated by construction projects. The creative mess is like an art project, while it's in progress it's chaos. This was the time of the "Battle of St. Clair" with widely differing opinions on the benefit of the project.
The construction project involved multiple phases. These photos were taken during the St. Clair redevelopment from Bathurst to Gunns Road. Although a considerable mess at the time, the rejuvenation of the street has provided some positive benefits with new businesses moving into the area, increased ridership, and new condo developments along St. Clair.
Why show these images in monochrome rather than in colour? Although I like the colour photos, I thought the black and white images showed the textures better and rather than distracting the eye helps the viewer to focus on the structure and patterns in the image. Do you agree?
Thought for the day
Sometimes people think they need to be in a special location to be inspired. I find that going for an extended walk, wherever you may be, can help you get inspired. That's certainly what I found while taking an extended walk along St. Clair during the construction project.
Eric David is a visual artist / fine art photographer that lives and works in Toronto.