Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Magical Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Aug 6 2012

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Siam Reap, Cambodia

ta prohm, Ang Kor Wat, Siam Reap, Cambodia

Magical Place… Daydreaming about traveling again. Where should I go next?

Around the World with Lisa Bettany & an iPhone 4S

Jan 18 2012

I am setting out on a trip around the world to capture photos for my very first travel photography book. I’m inspired by the freedom of shooting, editing, and sharing photos with a light-weight mobile device, so I’m leaving my professional camera gear at home and capturing the entire journey with an iPhone 4S (well actually two incase one gets tromped on by an elephant or snatched by a meer cat).

Over the past year, I’ve taken more pictures with my iPhone than my Canon 5DMKII. I’ve been really impressed by the dramatic quality improvements of iPhone 4S, and I honestly think that I will get better candid travel shots for my book with my iPhone. The best camera is the one you have with you and while I still adore my dSLR, shooting on the iPhone challenges me and makes me see capture photos in a new exciting way. Plus, it’s about 30lbs lighter than my camera gear!

When I started planning this world book trip, I had a list of about 100 places I wanted to visit spanning every inch of the globe. Unfortunately, being under a time constraint of 50 days and planning this all very last minute, I had to cut some incredible places because of technical flight details & burocratic red tape. Apparently, many cool places require travel visas which are not easily attained during Christmas holiday. Live and learn.

If you have any travel tips or suggestions for me, please put them below! I need all the help I can get!

Follow my Around the World blog and on Facebook, Google+ & Twitter.

Persistence Pays in Photography

Sep 6 2011

Santa Monica Pier at Sunset

Canon 5DMKII + 24-70mm f/2.8, 43mm, f/16, 10s, ISO 100.

After my big move out of my San Francisco apartment, I thought I’d take myself and my wonderful mum, who helped my move, on a little California photo vacation before heading back East. It’s always been a dream of mine to shoot the Santa Monica pier after seeing it in a number of movies/tv shows, so last night I trekked out onto the sandy beach and snapped this shot.

This shot was all about persistence. When I arrived at the beach, it was quite foggy and the light wasn’t great. The colours were muted, the sky was grey and there were a lot of pesky tourists parked right in the middle of my shot. After waiting for almost an hour, the sky suddenly turned a gorgeous shade of purple with a misty pink horizon. So, I had my sky. Next, I needed a great reflection of the lights on the pier.

My shoreside set up. About to get drenched!

I tried a number of different angles on the beach and levels on my tripod. Unfortunately, the sweet spot for the reflection and composition was very close to the shoreline which meant that when a large wave came in, I was calf-deep in salty ocean goodness. I also had to time my 10s exposure just as the waves were pulling out so that the sand was wet enough to create the best reflection.

Santa Monica Pier

Setting up the shot.

Next came the ferris wheel spin. Much to my chagrin, the ferris wheel spun very sporadically and with numerous lighting patterns. It was hit or miss, so I had to take a lot of shots. I took over 100 shots waiting for the perfect combo of tide out, good reflections, and ferris wheel spin and this photo was my very last shot. Needless to say, my mum was not impressed that this whole process took nearly 1 1/2 hours of “one more photo”. She had long since put her tripod and camera away and was hopping up and down to keep warm.

When we got back, she wasn’t really happy with the photos she took. She lamented about the fact that her less expensive, Canon XSi (450D) couldn’t take as good pictures as my 5DMKII, but I said that the difference between our photos wasn’t the fact that I had the better camera, but that I persisted longer to get the shot.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve taken almost 30,000 pictures with my 5DMKII. My first shot was out of focus. My 100th shot was over-exposed. My 1607 shot was completely black. My 3056 shot needed a lot of post-processing. But, this shot, my 29,604 shot was great straight out of the camera. Why? Because I had 29,603 shots to practice my skills, so that when I finally got to this beach to take a shot I dreamt about for years, I knew what camera settings to use, how to compose the shot, and to wait an hour and a half for great light.

The bad news is you can’t skip the steps it takes to learn how to use your camera settings, compose great shots, and perfect light. But, the good news is that anyone with a relentless determination and passion can go to this exact spot and take an equally great photo.

New York Skyline Sunset

Jun 24 2011

New York Skyline Sunset
5DMKII + 16-35mm, 1/100 at f/6.3, ISO 100.

A spectacular sunset over New York on a hot and stormy night.

I didn’t have a tripod so I just used the one RAW file to create 3 different jpgs (exposing the sky, buildings & one in between) and combined them as an HDR in Photomatix. I then pulled the shot into Photoshop and added some magic.

In honour of the Royal Wedding…

Apr 28 2011

iPhone 4, Camera+, Clarity, HDR, Cross Process, thin black frame.

I’m Canadian, but I have two British parents. In my mind, this makes me mostly British, so I thought in honour of the Royal fever sweeping over the entire interwebs, I thought it would be fun to post a few pictures from my trip to London earlier this year where I visited many famous spots. :)

Harrods Double Decker Bus & bokehHarrods Double Decker Bus Bokeh.
5DMKII+16-35mm. 1/60 at f/2.8, IS0 2000.

Westminster Abbey HDR, LondonWestminster Abbey.
5DMKII+ 16-35mm, 4, 8, & 15s at f/8.0, ISO 100 using Photomatix.

Golden Jubilee Bridge & the London EyeGolden Jubilee Bridge & the London Eye.
16-35mm. 6s at f/8.0, ISO 100.

iPhone 4, Camera+u, Contessa wi/ Vintage Frame.

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, UKHouses of Parliament.
3 shots combined in Photomatix 8s, 10s, 15s, f/8.0, ISO 100.

London Eye.
iPhone 4, Camera+, Clarity + Cross Process + Vibrant.

Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace.
5DMKII+16-35mm, 15s at f/9.0, ISO 100.

While I’m not too keen on watching the wedding itself, I’ll be really interested to see both the official wedding photos and all the unofficial photos of the celebration. If you happen to be in London town, make sure you get out and get some shots and share them with all of us!

Venetian Gold, Las Vegas

Apr 23 2011

Venetian Gold, Las Vegas
5DMKII+16-35mm, 1/80 at f/3.5, ISO 2000.

I took this during my last trip to Las Vegas for the Mostly Photo walk in the opulent Venetian Hotel. So much gold!!! :P I didn’t have my tripod so I hand-held this shot. I used Lightroom to decrease some of the noise I got from using ISO 2000, then I took the one photo into Photoshop where I spend close to 2 hours cloning, healing and masking out crowds of people from the shot. It took forever, but with the crowds of people the shot looked really messy.

I then took the shot into Photomatix and applied tone mapping to draw some details. The two major problem areas that arise from tone mapping one image is noise and lack of contrast, so I usually reduce the noise and increase contrast in Lightroom. I also increased the saturation of the blues and red accents.

Here’s a short video of our amazing Mostly Photo Walk in Las Vegas!

Bellagio Fountains during the day time

Apr 18 2011

Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas during the day
5DMKII+16-35mm, 1/640 at f/5.0, ISO 100.

Snap of the Bellagio Fountains during the day. I got sucked in for a few shows…. somehow it never gets old. I think I almost prefer this reverse vantage point of the fountains with the faux fabulous Paris in the back…

I also love the subtle rainbow that appears in the water spray. What does it mean?

Gondola Ride on the Venetian Grand Canal, Las Vegas

Apr 16 2011

Gondola Ride at the Venetian Grand Canal, Las Vegas
5DMKII+16-35mm, 1/8 at f/5.0, ISO 100.

I always post my photos on Flickr, Facebook, Camplus… but never on my blog, so I thought I’d start to share more of my shots here, for those of you that still use a feed reeder :P

Vegas is certainly an interesting place to shoot. There is no shortage of colourful venues… The Venetian is perhaps my favourite place to shoot… It’s so faux fabulous in such a deliciously tacky way, you can’t help but snap hundreds of picts.

The lighting was uber crappy and dark, so I actually set up a 3 exposure HDR shot, but there was too much movement with the two boats, so I ended up using the darkest shot and fake HDR’d it in PS. The image isn’t tack sharp… something I couldn’t see in frame when I shot it, but I can’t go back now, so I’ll have to live with it… curse my perfectionism :|

5 Tips for Taking Great Vacation Photos

Nov 27 2010

Mostly Lisa on Paradise Pier, California Adventureland

I just finished processing my snaps from my fabulous Disneyland birthday weekend and I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for getting great vacation photos.

As a die-hard photographer, I understand the tendency to want to capture every single moment of life, rather than experience it. While this will result in more photos of your trip, it may not result in the best photos. After a day of continuous snapping and being asked to smile and pose, even the most enthusiastic subjects will look like annoyed-looking grumps in your photos.

Fireworks above Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Disneyland

Instead of continuously shooting throughout the day, pick three or four times for posed family photos in front of main landmarks, and casually snap candids the rest of the time. Know when to put away your dSLR and just enjoy the day.

Disneyland Lollipop Bokeh
Taken while Pete was distracted by brightly coloured sweets. :)

All this goes out the window if there is amazing light. In that case, give your kids $10, point to the nearest ice cream store, and say, “Yay!! Ice cream!!” I find I can capture a lot of great shots when people are distracted with food or shiny things. I call it the “distract and snap” method.

Pete & Mickey PretzelOh look! A Mickey pretzel!

2. Pack the right gear

Oh Hai Disneyland!
5DMKII + 16-35mm + 430EX with an Omnibounce

On this trip to Disneyland, I brought minimal gear with me to the park because I knew that I would be trekking around a lot and going on bumpy, wet and generally gear-unfriendly rides. I brought my 5DMKII with the 16-35mm f/2.8, 430EX flash, Canon SD 1300 point & shoot, and my iPhone 4.

Pete in front of the Matterhorn, Disneyland
Pete waiting for the Monorail in Tomorrowland.

I only brought one lens because I find that I can capture great scene shots at 16mm and great people pictures at 35mm. Plus, it’s relatively small and unobtrusive. A 35mm, 24-70mm or a 18-55mm kit lens would work as well.

View from the Grand Californian
View from my hotel room at the Grand Californian.

If you are missing a zoom lens or wide angle, use a point and shoot or phone to grab these shots. Remember it’s all about about capturing moments, not perfect photographs.

2. Bring extra memory cards & batteries

Esmerelda, Main Street, Disneyland
Esmerelda, Main Street, Disneyland

I usually have 4 X 8GB cards and an extra battery for my dSLR on me at all times. I tore through all of these on this trip, especially when I was taking video. So depending on what you are shooting, I would recommend having at least 4 cards with you, if not more. Always pack an extra battery and make sure you charge your phone the night before.

Woody Vinylmation
Toy Story’s “Woody” in Vinylmation store.

3. Capture the story

While it’s great to capture the big breathtaking scenic moments of your vacation, try to capture all the seemingly mundane moments in between to connect all your images into a story of your trip.

Mickey Mouse Waffle

Snap a picture of your breakfast, the view from your hotel window, your family getting ready to go out, your boyfriend checking his feeds during dinner :-|, or any little candid moment you’d like to remember.
Pete Cashmore getting his RSS on :P

I find that these shots are the ones I really cherish, because they remind me of my experience, rather than the place itself. I love this shot of my epic R2D2 “Mostly Lisa” Mouse Ears getting made.

My R2D2 Mickey Ears getting made

MostlyLisa's R2D2 Mickey Ears

4. Capture the entire scene

Paradise Pier, California Adventureland
Paradise Pier, California Adventureland

Always take a step back and capture the full scene. It’s a good opportunity to actually focus on your photography for a moment. I usually try to grab a few good shots when I’m waiting in lines for food, transport or Space Mountain :)

Space Mountain, Disneyland
Space Mountain!

To maximize your photo taking, set your camera to burst mode, so you can fire off a bunch of shots really quickly. Another way you can increase your chances of getting a great shot is by bracketing the exposure to +2 and -2 EV. This way when you fire off three shots in burst mode, you get three shots of varied exposure: 1. Over-exposed; 2. Normally exposed; & 3. Under-exposed.

Mark Twain Riverboat, Disneyland
Mark Twain Riverboat, Disneyland

5. Don’t forget to get in the picture too!

Cotton candy & magic hour in California Adventureland.

There are so many times when I come back from a trip and realize there are no pictures of me, almost as if I wasn’t there. I know most photographers hate being photographed, but your loved ones and demanding Facebook friends will appreciate a few pictures with you in them :P Before you pass of your camera, make sure it’s set up correctly so that anyone can just click the shutter. I usually set up the frame and settings on someone and then swap with that person, so all my settings are correct.

Point and shoot shot of Pete & I after a ride on Indiana Jones.

I’m not keen on strangers handling my dSLR, so if I want a shot with me and someone, I’ll either set up my point and shoot on a little gorilla pod and use a timer or just hand hold it. NB. Hand holding a dSLR is not recommended unless you’ve got the guns to support it :P

Mickey Mouse Toys at Disneyland

I look forward to seeing all of your shots of the upcoming holiday season!!!

Video Tour of Leo Laporte’s TWiT Cottage

Jul 25 2010

When I was in SF for WWDC in June, I made the trek up to the TWiT Cottage in Petaluma to film an episode of MacBreak Weekly entitled “Harry Potter”. I always find the cottage such a cool place, so I thought I’d make a brief behind-the-scenes tour to share with you.

Special appearances by Leo Laporte, Andy Ihnatko, a camera shy Don McAllister, Alex Lindsay, Sarah Lane, Tom Merrit, super-edit Tony.

Thanks to Andy Inhatko for jumping in as camera man. :)