Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Little Princess

The Little Princess is a lovely little statue by László Marton on the Danube, erected in 1989.

The Little Princess is a cute little statue by László Marton on the Danube, erected in 1989.
It must the most photographed object in Budapest. It was very difficult to get the exposure of the 4 seconds I needed without somebody running up to pose next to it or another flash going off. Taken from the other side of the statue, you can position the statue with Castle Hill in the background but I found that too distracting; I prefer this much calmer background.

I corrected the suggested exposure of this photo by -2 to arrive at the correct exposure.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Castle Hill at dusk

Beautiful Budapest castle hill evening photo

View of Buda from Pest with the Buda Castle lit up against the evening sky with the Danube in the foreground. Budapest is the perfect destination for a city break and I can only recommend it: The food is great, the town very scenic, the people are kind and helpful, public transport works perfectly and the famous spas are very relaxing.

I took this photo off my trusty tripod with and shutter speed of 30 seconds with an aperture of f/22 having metered off the castle walls.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Monday, April 28, 2008 featured photo

Hello, I've just returned home from my trip to Budapest with 182 digital photos and 5 rolls of black and white film taken in this fabulous town. Hopefully I have to first photos to show you tomorrow. However, I just found out that the photo above is a featured photo for the black and white group within Thanks to everybody who nominated my photo. ^_^/=

Camera: Pentax MZ-3, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Icebergs in glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón

Iceberg in shortest river in Iceland

We'll be off to Budapest for a city break for a couple of days. I'll be back with loads of photos of this beautiful city. See you next week.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Church in Vik, Iceland

Vik y myrdal church

The church in Vik flattened against the hill behind it. In the foreground you can see the purple of the flowering lupin which is used because of its ability to bind nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia, fertilizing the volcanic ashes for other plants.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 28-300mm

Monday, April 21, 2008

Albert Bridge, London

You know you walk on a well constructed bridge when a big sign tells soldiers to break step when marching over the bridge for fear of mechanical resonance. ^_^;;
I particularly like the composition of this photo.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Shakespeare and Company

The iconic Shakespeare and Company bookshop on the Left Bank of the Seine at night. Definitely worth a visit when visiting Paris to say 'hi' to the cats asleep in the shop. :-)
It is probably best known for first publishing Ulysses by James Joyce and serving as base for many of the writers of the Beat Generation, such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughs in the 1960s.

At the time I took this photo, I wasn't familiar yet with all the ins and outs of my DSLR camera and I had allowed it to pick a very high ISO setting to get the 1/60s shutter speed and, as a result, the photo was so noisy that it could not be presented in a format larger than a thumbnail. With help of Photoshop and some downloaded grunge brushes I tried to highlight the strengths of this photo without, hopefully, overdoing it.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Handbook To The Planets

My "Handbook to the Planets" blog is a place where I post my blurry and otherwise discarded photos that I secretly love but I feel that I cannot post here as they would be a bit of an embarrassment.

I used Photoshop Elements 5 and a couple of grunge brushes to make the artwork for the logo. The pose of the the girl in the foreground repeated by the girl in the background makes this an appealing photo to me but you'll have to click through on the image to appreciate it. Oh, ah, yes, I need to warn you that I also blog complete nonsense in that weblog. It mainly is about being lost in a country and society completely alien to me which caused a moment of epiphany about the poems of the Mad Poet Navarth. :-)

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3 + Photoshop

Friday, April 18, 2008

Murano, the glassblowers' island (2)

Murano, the island of the glass factories

Another shot taken at Murano. The wide canal and the smaller houses really makes a difference from Venice.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Murano, the glassblowers' island (1)

Murano, boats in front of church

The hotel offered a free trip to Murano, the glassblowers' island and even though we realized that regardless of the assurances of the hotel, the boat would drop us off at a glass factory, we didn't hesitate and signed up. Sure enough, we were dropped off at a factory but as soon soon as the people realized we were not the souvenir buying kind, we could leave and exploit the island.

This may sound surprising, but the way Murano is built allows the first time visitor to get closer to the water than is usually possible in Venice. My photos need space to work for me and I got a lot of that in Murano.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Venice in the rain (2)

Just a little further along from where I took the photo I posted yesterday and still pouring down with rain. I certainly learned how to keep my camera dry that day :-)

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Venice in the rain (1)

San Marco in Venice, early morning

Taken during our Venice trip in October 2006, I only have recently taken the time to process the colour photos I had taken there. We had a great time in Venice, but my black and white photos of which I had very high hopes had comeback with fingerprints on the negatives and that sort of spoiled the experience a little.

The photo above from St. Mark's Square I took at early morning in the most dreadful weather and the water was coming up of the sewers. The good thing was that except for the odd tourist hurrying to catch the ferry to the airport, there was hardly a soul around while the area is usually packed with tourists.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC

Monday, April 14, 2008

Second attempt at HDRI

Venice small canal

Before applying HDR techniques

With my second attempt at HDRI I managed to make a very presentable image of a photo of the Canals in Venice that I had previously thrown out as a failure. I added the original shot on the left which I had tried to work on by increasing the brightness or changing the exposure which always resulting in a very flat image where all details in the house on the other side of the canal were lost. What must have happened was that because I use spotmetering, I must have taken a reading from the house on the other side of the canal and the canyon of the canal in front ended up about 2 stops underexposed. But even if I had taken the reading of the front part of the image, the house would have ended up overexposed. Therefore the HDRI version is an image I would never have been able to take with my camera even though it appears very natural.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC + Picturenaut

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The light at the end of the tunnel

Sloane Square tube station

The light at the end of the tunnel just may be an oncoming train. Sloane Square tube station.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park, London

Buddhist monk built peace pagoda

One of 80 Peace Pagodas built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States which were mostly built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji Buddhist Order.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Friday, April 11, 2008

The basement

cute asian model

What to do when you're dying to test drive your new camera and it is pouring with rain outside? I turned to the basement to play around with the zone-system I try to use in combination with the autobracketing function of my camera.

I almost always use spotmetering on my cameras in aperture priority mode. I had taken the meter reading off the face of the model which usually corresponds nicely to the 18% gray, the meter tries to turn everything into.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 20mm - 1:1.8 EX DG Aspherical

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Battersea Power Station in B/W

Battersea Power Station in black and white

A much better composed photo of the Battersea Power Station compared to my previous post; somehow I find it easier in black and white. It is not the range of lenses as the 24-70mm lens I use on my SLR almost completely matches the 18-50mm lens I use on my DSLR when you take into account the 1.5 multiplication factor I need to use on my DSLR. Weird.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

First attempt at HDRI

Jazz street musicians in London, HDR picturenaut

No doubt you have taken a photo where either the foreground had the correct exposure while the background was blown out or too dark or the other way around. So have I and if you have a digital camera there is a lot you can do, especially when you're shooting in RAW. From Wikipedia: High dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures (the range of values between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

Preferably you would use the autobracketing function of your camera to take several exposures; typically a camera would take a burst of three frames with 0, +1 and -1 stop (now called EV) difference compared to the normal exposure. If you shoot in RAW you can fake this at the cost of some noise in the image.

For the image above, I had only one exposure and when I had the musicians exposed correctly, London in the background was completely blown out and had lost all its detail. Since I had shot it in RAW, I could manipulate the exposure in Adobe's Camera Raw to create three TIFF files with 0, +1 and -1 EV. I then used that in the free tool Picturenaut to create the image above which is already a great improvement over the original image I had made. However, Picturenaut has a lot more options I haven't had time to look at, so no doubt, I will be working on the above image while I discover more and more about HDRI.
Note that unless you have Photoshop CS2 or above, Photoshop cannot handle the HDR TIFF files. However, Gimp can.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO + Picturenaut

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fire buckets in Gujo-Hachiman

fire buckets in old, Japanese town Gujo-hachiman

fire alarm bell in old, Japanese town Gujo-hachiman

The risk of fire in old Japanese towns with mainly wooden houses like Gujo-Hachiman is considerable and always present. As a precaution, around the town wells each family keeps fire buckets to be able to quickly extinguish any starting fire. At strategic corners in the neighbourhood, bells are mounted at corners so that the alarm can be raised quickly.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Monday, April 07, 2008

Snow sakura

sakura cherry blossoms in the april snow

We woke up to about 15cm of snow yesterday morning. No doubt the sight of the cherry blossoms covered in snow would have inspired Basho to a magnificent haiku.

Instead of embarrassing myself by attempting to write one myself, I googled "snow cherry haiku" and came up with this haiku found here:

white snow encircles
the bare twigs in the orchards:
cold cherry blossoms

Haiku Copyright © 1999, Sondra Ball, all rights reserved 

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Miniature garden in winter

flowerpots on a wall

You used to see them everywhere in Holland, the flowerpots mounted to a wall with some simple flowers. I'm sure you can still buy them, but you hardly every see them anymore.
Photo taken in Ootmarsum.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Saturday, April 05, 2008


traditional english public telephones outside Uxbridge station

When was the last time you used a public telephone? I'm sure you'd remember as they are dirty, smelly and most likely to be malfunctioning. In front of Uxbridge Tube station three red boxes are kept for nostalgic reasons, I guess.

Using the slogan "If you suspect it, report it," the Metropolitan Police bombards us with messages on the radio (another obsolete medium) and posters to make sure to dial in any suspicious behaviour and are specifically targeting photographers: "Thousands of people take photos everyday, what if one of them seems odd?" No doubt these telephone boxes do classify as security arrangements and I do have a beard so I'm highly suspicious! ^_^;;
A couple of London photographers hit back with modified posters with texts like: "Millions of people take photos every day. Some of them are brown. Please do not shoot them." No doubt referring to the De Menezes shooting.

Update: 17 April, 2008, there is a very good article about the issue of photographers rights on the BBC webpage. If you're a UK resident, you should sign this petition to the Prime Minister.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Friday, April 04, 2008


Stitched together from 5 photos of the River Thames with riverboat.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO + PTGui

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Uxbridge, town centre

Buildings just in front of the Uxbridge tube station while trying to avoid the concrete ugliness that usually makes up a town centre. St. Margaret's Church is on the right. Still testing my MZ-S.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station from Chelsea bridge, London

First encountered by me on the album cover of Animals by Pink Floyd, the Art Deco design of the power station is an attractive subject. Even tourists from Japan make sure that they visit Battersea as well as the London Eye.
On the day I was there, I shot mostly black&white so you'll have to wait until I get them developed. Photo taken from the north side of the Chelsea Bridge which makes for a perfect location with the busy train bridge to Victoria station in the foreground.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lens: Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC MACRO

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spring flower

One of the test images I took with my new MZ-S. I realize I could have done a lot better by playing a little with the angle of the shot but at the time I was busy trying out the continuous autofocus function of the camera.

Camera: Pentax MZ-S, lens: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO