Low Light

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For the youngsters amongst us, it may come as a surprise to hear that photography wasn’t always a technicolour experience. Black and white isn’t just an edit option in Photoshop, it’s where photography began and it remains an essential means of expression for many photographers. ~Simon Bray

The gift of sight

Around 15 years ago I was diagnosed with glaucoma. It is a debilitating eye condition which, if left unattended, can lead to blindness. I was at an advanced stage and had to undergo expensive and critical laser surgery on both eyes. The medical process was to free up the pressure that was building up inside the eye so that the liquid inside can freely circulate. Unlike the skin organ, the rods and cones in our eyes damaged by the built-up pressure caused by glaucoma cannot regenerate. My sense of sight has not been the same ever since that operation. I wear glasses though the grade is not that high. Glaucoma doesn’t go away, there is always the prospect of a recurrence. How does this affect my photography?


If you have been following this blog for some time now and going through my image postings you may say that I have 20/20 vision. Well, it’s far from that. I have poor eyesight and is nearsighted. I don’t know if that’s because of my previous glaucoma condition. It’s crucial that I wear my eyeglasses when driving because I can not clearly see distant objects, they are all just a blur. I even struggle peering through the electronic viewfinder of my DSLR and find it more comfortable viewing, framing and capturing through the camera’s LCD screen. Such setback (I wouldn’t call it a disability) does not deter me. It even encourages and inspires me to really “see” things. This gift of sight, no matter how imperfect it is for me, propels my photography and visual imagery. Maybe because of this condition I strive to see more, and go the extra effort to perceive light and other elements that make up a good picture. Maybe I am guided more by my internal vision than my external sight when photographing. Or both could be complementing each other. All you my friends who have perfect eyesight be thankful, and utilize that powerful sense to make the most of your capture.

A different feel at night


Article Excerpt: “Taking pictures at night gives an image a completely different feel because it captures different stories of daily life, sometimes more dramatic than the ones captured during the day. There is also a whole new cast of characters at night that make taking pictures on the streets after dark an even more adventurous experience in street photography…Just by decreasing the available light we increase the element of mystery in the image. Don’t get me wrong, it could still be an average image. Just because it was taken at night the picture won’t magically become a great photograph, but at least it might become a little bit more interesting, it may make the viewer ask just a few more questions. And depending on where you are it may even add an element of danger.”~Juan Reyes from his article Street Photography Tips at Night

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There are some photographers that don’t go out at night. For many, the perception is that with the lack of ambient light, all your shot will turn out blurry, noisy or dark. In reality, within most city centers there is a wealth of photographic opportunities just waiting to be discovered, all using the available light.~Simon Bray

The challenge of night photography

Shooting subjects in daylight is challenging enough. We often produce blurry, out of focus images even in bright light. What more at night, in an urban landscape with only neon signs, street lamps and lights from buildings? The special condition of low light situation presents an obstacle to photographers but these can all be overcome, and you do not need to be an expert. Night photography can produce some of the most remarkable and impressive photos. To do this you have to remember some simple guidelines.


David Peterson, founder of DigitalPhotoSecrets.com, presents some tips in his article Spectacular Night Shots In 5 Easy Steps. These are:

1. Get a tripod
2. Find a high-traffic location or an interesting street sign
3. Frame the shot in an interesting way
4. Pick an aperture of F8 and shoot some experimental shots at a slow shutter speed
5. Readjust and keep shooting

You will notice that the steps provided by Peterson is a combination of the technical and the creative. The technical side is where you have to learn all about your camera, its features and what it can do. Once you know that, then you can do a lot of things such as shooting with shutter speed priority or long exposures, the technique which creates silky smooth waterfalls and, in night photography, those amazing light trails. The creative side is where you have to draw on your knowledge to come up with the proper framing and effective composition. We are often deterred in doing night photography thinking this needs specialized equipment. The only other thing you need aside from your camera is a tripod. Everything else boils down to you – your patience, passion and resolve. Add these personal traits when doing night photography. The resulting images are rewarding.

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A photographer’s work is given shape and style by his personal vision. It is not simply technique, but the way he looks at life and the world around him.~Pete Turner

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JJWP384Each picture requires a special composition and every artist treats each picture originally.~Peter Henry

All the best for 2013!

Wishing all my blogger friends a blessed, peaceful and prosperous New Year! Cheers!

Weekend Inspiration 3


Happy weekend my blogger friends!

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For a photographer this is a magic moment… about 45 minutes before sunrise, light is already starting to push back the dark. I open my camera and let nature paint me a picture.~Steve Coleman

Rise early

What a title coming from someone who is a certified late riser and sunset shooter. I probably have only a couple of dozen sunrise shots from my vast collection of outdoor images. But whether sunrise or sunset, these are the magic hours sought by photographers. And the rare times I get to personally greet the dawn, it is always worth the while (and the effort of getting up from bed). Lots of photographic moments happen during early morning, and these include the mood of the surroundings, the stillness of things, the almost monotone color, elemental shadows and forms, and the slight tinge of light in the horizon preparing for day to break out. The unholy early hours always beckon. It is such an enigmatic power that pulls you at the core, touching your consciousness, pricking your heart, hugging your persona. Such is the feeling maybe because all your senses take it in – cool breeze caress your skin, the scent of salty sea overpower your nostrils, the shrill cries of birds passing overhead echo in your ears, and the soft watercolored views delight the eyes. You get your camera and snap on, hoping to capture what you feel, hoping to freeze the sensual bliss. A picture may not only speak a thousand words, it also convey emotions accumulated during the moment. Rise early. I’ll include that in my resolutions this coming New Year. (Photo location: Cancabato Bay, Tacloban City) 

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Keep it simple.~Alfred Eisenstaedt (Photo location: Bohol)

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You can put this feeling into a picture. A painter can do it. And a musician can do it and I think a photographer can do that too and that I would call the dreaming with open eyes.~Ernst Haas (Photo location: Cancabato Bay, Tacloban City)

For free

Just look at the world around you. Not the everyday metropolitan tangle of skyscrapers, the maze of concrete highways and the bustling traffic of people. Find and view the natural world. A quiet horizon, a silent tree-lined countryside scene, a picturesque sunset, a postcard-like panorama of mountains, hills, streams, forests. The best that nature can offer. Find time for that perfect getaway. Alone. By yourself. With only God’s creations. Then take them all in. Open up and observe with the senses. Wonder at the beauty and serenity. Be awed by the resplendence of colors, of cascading hues, pastel tints here and there, the depth of shadows and silhouettes, subtle light reflections peering through. It is overwhelming. Words are inadequate to describe the view. Even the senses are insufficient and are enveloped by the atmosphere of calm and complexity, silence and simplicity. My gratitude to the Creator for coloring this world and making it available for all of us…for free. (Photo location: Montemaria, Batangas)

The world is your canvas

With photography, the world is yours to capture, to portray, to paint. It is your canvas, to put your image, to give your interpretation, to express yourself. While traditional painting may take hours or days, photography takes just an instant to create your art, and the considerations are the same – light, shadows, contrast, texture, colors. These are elements which, in the hands of a dedicated photographer with the mind of a poet and the heart of an artist, can create a personal magnum opus. Continue clicking and pursue your art. (Photo location: Batangas City)

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If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.~Linda McCartney (Photo location: Narvacan, Ilocos Sur)

Sunsets…and more sunsets

Ah, the golden hour. Those few precious minutes when the sun goes up or when the sun settles. As I’m a late riser, I usually go for the latter. I can never get enough of a sunset, and how to capture it magnificently. Early on when I was starting taking pictures, I normally just snapped away hoping I get a couple of shots right. Anyway, there will always be another sunset tomorrow. But no. No sunset is ever the same. Of course, said approach and mentality produced images not much to my liking and I had to read up, practice and consider things such as camera settings, composition and post-processing. All these and more are tackled by prolific writer and noted landscape photographer Jim Harmer in his article 30 Tips for Stunning Sunset Photography. He covers just about every item and consideration for capturing this grand spectacle of nature – panoramas, angles, filters, HDR, silhouettes, foregrounds, horizons, in-cam settings, picture orientation, lenses to use and other valuable tips. With this wealth of knowledge, you can never go wrong in photographing sunsets…today, tomorrow or in future photo shoots. (Photo location: Montemaria, Batangas)

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You are not looking for something. You are open, receptive. At some point you are in front of something that you cannot ignore.~Henry Wessel (Photo location: Shercon Resort, Lipa City)

A poignant photo story

A chapter of individual lives close every end of the day. Body and mind need to recharge. But there are moments of reflection before we lie down to rest. Have we done any meaningful thing the past 24 hours? Perhaps nothing earth-shattering that could change the world. Just small, simple acts of an ordinary life. Yet some deeds stand out. The boy in the picture, tying his boat in a makeshift pier after an afternoon at sea, was all smiles as I approached him. I asked him if he caught any and he showed me a medium-sized pail full of fishes. He added that his father was sick and could not go fishing, and what he caught would be food for dinner for his six siblings. I was moved and impressed. What the boy did will never matter to the world, but it is all the world for him to make sure his family would not sleep on empty stomachs at the end of the day. (Photo location: Surigao City)

Frame it well

This is not about a decorative border you put on an image before you hang it on a wall. That will come later. The first business at hand is taking a shot and creating a picture worthy of that space on your illustrious wall. We go back to photography basics: the rule of thirds, keep a picture free from distractions, have a focal point, avoid backlighting, shoot lots of photos for variety, find angles and perspectives. Or follow none of the above, since rules are made to be broken anyway. But just to be on the side of generally accepted norms (remember you’re also aiming for that wall), it will do well to abide by the tried and tested yardsticks of good photography which have been there ever since. Here is a refresher titled Basic Photo Tips: Framing Your Shots by Wasim Ahmad, an assistant professor of Journalism. Go out and experiment. Discover and have fun. Happy framing!

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Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today.~Edward Abbey (Photo location: Batangas City)

Challenging the night

Taking pictures at low light conditions is very challenging. You can not just snap away and expect a good image. Chances are the pictures will be grainy, blurry and, expectedly, dark. You need to understand appropriate camera settings and you need another essential equipment – a tripod. In the absence of that, you need to find a solid, steady base to place your camera. Overcoming the challenges of night photography will result in creative and dramatic images. A good understanding of how to do it, when to do it and what is needed will go a long way. These are all tackled in this helpful guide – Night Photography Tips and Techniques. It’s actually easier than you think. Soon you’ll be a nocturnal person prowling the city looking for those “nightscapes” or capturing “light trails.” Happy night shooting! (Photo location: Singapore)