Winners

My two favorite shots of the trip are the two I had the least hope of coming away with.

The first is this HDR shot of an iceberg near Twillingate. Three shots on a moving boat took some work to merge. It was a total experiment that ended up working out.

Twillingate Iceberg - HDR

My other iceberg photos (including the ones from Iceland) can be found here.

The second was an attempt to photograph the Milky Way on one of the clear moonless nights. This is over the fjord near Gros Morne.

Milky Way in Gros Morne

I’m new to astrophotography and I don’t get to places where I can practice very often so I am rather happy with the results.

Barcelona – Day 3 – Part 2

After collecting ourselves back at the hotel room we headed out and braved the metro to go see La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.

The structure is amazing to see in person. I was particularly happy to have my very wide angle Sony 16-35mm lens with me to capture a few images. These are both done using HDR techniques that involve taking 3 separate photos, each with a different exposure setting, and blending the images together to create one high dynamic range image that brings our the detail and evens out the overall exposure.

Sagrada Familia - HDR

La Sagrada Familia - HDR

And later that evening for a night shot

Sagrada Familia - Night Shot 2

Travel Shots For Fun – Dancing House In Prague

The Dancing House is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building in downtown Prague, Czech Republic. It was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Miluni in co-operation with Canadian architect Frank Gehry. The first shot is HDR handheld from 3 exposures and the second shot is one extended exposure of 9 seconds. Click either image to see a larger version.

Dancing House

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Dancing House

Dancing House

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Dancing House

Travel Shots For Fun – Charles Bridge and Prague Castle

3 shots of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. The first two are HDR using 3 exposures. The first at twighlight, the second after dark.
The third shot is just an extended exposure of 23 seconds with little to no post processing. Click any image to see the larger version.

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

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Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

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Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

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Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague – Day 3

Ugh! More rain this morning. It’s bad enough when the light is poor due to cloud cover. Photos are dull and lifeless. But rain! ARRRRGH! Photographing in the rain is not my thing. Protecting the camera gear is priority numero uno. So with the wet weather the camera has not come out as much as it normailly would.

But rain or no rain, we’re in Prague and well darn it, we’ve got to make the best of it. Who knows when or if we’ll be back? Poor Cynthia, she’s more disheartened than I am PLUS she has been working a nice big blister on her toe. Bless her heart, she’s a trooper.

We bought our second umbrella and decided to walk out to Wenceslas Square, the site of the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” that saw the overthrow of the authoritarian government.

It is simply amazing to walk such historical grounds, even if it is raining. We walked up to the top of the square where you could look down the length of it. Just trying to imagine that square filled with over 200,000 peaceful protesters gave us both pause.

Cynthia noticed a building to the left of where we were standing and said “Oh! I know what that is!”

That communist era old building was once the home of Radio Free Europe. It served as their headquarters from 1995-2009. Radio Free Europe played a significant role in the Velvet Revolution and the Czech Republic, out of gratitude, rented them the building for one CZK (Czech Crown) a year. Radio Free Europe had to move to a more secure location after recieving credible threats from Al Quada.

We moved on from Wenceslas Square to find the Dancing House.

By the time we found it the rain had almost completely stopped. It was still threatening and there were some drops to be felt but I figured I would break out the monopod and get some photos of this magnificent structure. With any luck I’ll take a mulligan when the sun comes out, but for now I’ve seen it and photographed it.

Moving on we made our way down the Vltava river back to the Charles Bridge. All the way we were lamenting the weather but making the best of it.

Right after I shot the above photo, an amazing thing happened. For just a few minutes the sun came out. It was only for a short while, but a break in the clouds and golden sunlight shone down on us. Glory be! Then it was gone. Drats!

We walked back to the old town square to make our way back to the apartment and as we entered the square the sun came out again! And this time it stayed out! We shot some pics and rejoiced and then went back to the apartment to recombobulate and decided to go out again and watch the sun go down over Pet?ín Hill from the bank of the Vltava river. I took my tripod and shot some hopefully excellent shots of Prague Caslte and the Charles Bridge. I need to go through them and process a little before I present them here.

The forecast for tomorrow calls for sunshine. If that holds true we’re off to Prague Castle first thing in the morning. We’ve walked our poor dogs to the bone, but some sunshine will breathe new life into both of us!

Vienna – Day 2 – Part 2

After our wonderful day at the Schönbrunn Palace we were feeling pretty good and just a little tired. We made our way back to the hotel to take a load off and consider our options and it wasn’t long before we were back out pounding the streets toward our next destination. We made our way over to the Haus Haus, a very cool and very modern building plunked down in the middle of town amongst building with a much older pedigree. In fact, Haus Haus is directly across the plaza from St. Stephen’s Cathedral and this juxtaposition alone makes the building somewhat controversial amongst the Viennese.

Here, as you can see, Haus Haus has all the earmarks of your modern buildings. Mirrored windows, curvy surfaces and all that.

Haus Haus

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Haus Haus

It really does seem out of place.

But something really cool happens when you walk past it. The surrounding building are reflected and distorted in the mirrored surfaces of Haus Haus causing the building to seem to morph and change. The further along you walk, the more it undulates and changes.

Haus Haus

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Haus Haus

Haus Haus

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Haus Haus

Haus Haus

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Haus Haus

This was a fun building to photograph. Move a little to the left or to the right and the scene changed quite a bit. The above detail shots are my favorite and I used the 3 shot HDR treatment to pull out the detail and for dramatic effect.

After this we walked around outside the cathedral and then to the Danube River which, for the record, is not even remotely blue. We didn’t stay there long but I was struck by some of the graffiti which was quite elaborate. Especially this one where the monsters seem to be menacing the couple in the lounge chairs.

Grafiti

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Graffiti

We’d been walking most of the day and we were wiped out. We went back to the hotel again to take a load off before going out to grab some dinner. We had decided to go back to the same Italian restaurant we had eaten at the night before. BIG MISTAKE! The place was crowded but the waiter remembered us. This seemed a good thing and he said he would have a table for us in about 5 minutes. 10 minutes later we had a table. Then we sat. And sat. About 20 minutes later he brought us some menus. 20-30 minutes later he took our order and we didn’t end up with our food in front us for quite some time. All in all we were there two hours before we ate. The food was good, but that was just ridiculous.

To make matters worse I got a phone call from the company that cleans our pool. They said the maintenance guy could not get the pump to turn on. The pump was actually repaired before we left so I was hoping it was just a malfunction. But I was worried there was some other problem like a power outage or something worse. Fortunately I was able to reach our friend who is watching over the place while we’re out and he verified everything was ok.

So, to sum up. Great day except for the poor service at the restaurant for dinner and the stress waiting to hear our house was ok.

Two more days in Vienna. I’m voting they be more like the morning than the evening. Fingers crossed!

Photographic Fun In Vienna

Vienna is a VERY photogenic city. We were walking around rather casually by the Vienna Opera House and I spotted these two fountains. I shot these using the HDR technique of capturing three different exposures and then tonemapping them into one image using Photomatix. To have this work really well you should use a tripod, but I was not carrying mine at the time so I had to shoot the three images handheld. Thanks to the shake reduction technology of the Sony and the quickness of the Minolta 35/2 lens I was able to pull this off with more than satisfactory results.

Vienna Opera House

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Vienna Opera House

Fountain

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Fountain

I will be going out with the tripod this evening to see what I can get. There’s a lot to shoot here and I’ve already got some more great stuff in the pipeline.

Fun Shots From The Trip

While in Valencia I shot a few things with the idea I would process for creativity when I got home.

These first two are HDR’s created from 3 separate exposures shot handheld as we were walking about the city:

Falla In The Mirror

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Falla In The Mirror

Scooter

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Scooter

And a fake miniature from the Teplar Castle in Peñíscola:

Scooter

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Scooter

East Side Represent

Houston - East Side

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Houston - East Side

John Nova Lomax invited me to go on one of his Sole Of Houston walks. This time he was hitting the east side. The plan was to just sort of meander out to 75th Street and then head north to Canal and then head back to town. It was VERY interesting. We started about 9:30 am and finished about 4:30 pm. We covered a LOT of ground. You can read the story here: Sole Of Houston: East Side Story — Trains, Tequila, Dogs & Grief. There’s several more of my photos in the posting.