Macro Flowers in BW

I thought I’d try to show off the luminous nature using macro photos of flowers in black and white.  There’s a nice subtle texture that is sometimes easier to notice when you remove the colour.

I have noticed that if I’m not careful with the Commlite adapter there is a reflection that reduces the contrast in the image.  It seems to happen when the light source is slightly out of frame.  I’ve seen some forum posts where people have used gaffer tape on the inside to stop the reflections.

Cambodian New Year Sunrise

This post is a month little late.  A bunch of us woke up early to catch the sun rise over the Toronto skyline.  It was a brisk morning and a good reminder to always pack gloves when waking up this early.

When I was in Algonquin, I kept changing lenses on my Nex-7 and some sticky dirt particles  snuck in and coated my sensor.  I learned that Sony has a special cleaning formula that only they use that can clean the sensor.  Now, I’m very hesitant to change lenses outdoors.

My plan was to equip the wide angle 35mm lens on the A7ii and my zoom lens on the Nex-7.  I thought I’d barely touch my Nex-7.  Turns out I was wrong… I preferred more of the zoom shots.  The extra reach allowed me to vary my compositions.


I visited Sweden at the end of February.  I hoped to capture the Northern Lights in Luleå.  Unfortunately, every night there was heavy cloud cover so I wasn’t able to capture it this time.

I brought my new A7ii, RX100ii, and my Note 3.  Airports give a lot of time to… wait.  The tools available on Android (and also IOS) allow for some fun editing.  I used VSCO CAM for the film-like filters and Over for the funky fonts.

Luleå is located just below the arctic circle.  I admit, I hadn’t heard of it before my buddy said he had friends there.  What was surprising was how much farther north it was from Toronto yet waaay warmer.  When we left, we had been suffering from an extended winter cold so a 1 degree Celsius weather felt like a  tropical island…  (without the bikinis, beaches,

Can't believe this is the Luleå is just below the arctic circle... and it was warmer than Toronto!
Can’t believe this is the Luleå is just below the arctic circle… and it was warmer than Toronto!

Some photos in

Fika time!  Pastries with coffee was a daily ritual.  Who am I to argue?  Also various food flavours in a tube was popular.  Just look at that selection!

When in Sweden, we had to try the Surströmming which “is fermented Baltic sea herring that has been a staple of traditional northern Swedish cuisine since at least the 16th century.”  The fermentation process leaves a very STRONG odour when the can is opened.  Once you get used to the smell.  It tastes a lot better than it smells.

Here are some pics from Stockholm!

The A7ii’s In Body Image Stabilization (“IBIS”) really came through for the night shots.  I could hand hold and take a picture with a longer exposure than I thought possible.  I’ll have to write more on my impressions of the camera in future posts as I’ve been using it more since the trip.  Suffice it to say, I’m very happy with this camera upgrade!

Macro Autumn

My final Autumn pics of 2014 were some macro pictures in Toronto at one of the Meetup group events.  I used my Gen 1 Metabones adapter to mount my Canon 100mm macro lens on  my Nex 7.  I’m always impressed by the level of detail it’s able to capture so I doubt I’ll be selling this one and it’ll probably remain my last Canon lens that I keep.

Mirrorless cameras are continuing to grab headlines and their market share is growing.  However, at photography events the DSLR users still heavily outnumber the mirrorless cameras.  Usually, the comments I hear are akin to “they feel like a toy to me” or “I need a camera to feel like a camera.”  LOL my favourite comment was “you really brought the big guns out for this event!”

Personally, I prefer the smaller size and the lighter weight… especially when hiking.  I like to travel light and usually carry only two lenses.  Andreas Wonisch wrote a nice article, “Landscape photography with µFT cameras“, that echos my thoughts on traveling light with compact gear.

Lit Tree at Sunrise

Argh!!! It’s already December and I still haven’t posted all my pics from my Banff trip.  Anyway, a few more posts coming soon!

Taking this photo was probably my second favourite moment of the trip.  The first being the Milky Way shots.  The day before some of the group were able to capture the same shot and that inspired the rest of us to attempt the same shot.

This tree sits out in the lake and Lake O’hara is surrounded by mountains which means sunrise pictures are difficult.  By the time the sun crests over the mountains, it’s well past the early sunrise time that gives the gorgeous early light.  However, this little tree is in the unique spot to be the recipient of the light before the trees in the background.

There’s this fantastic dance of light that occurs up-to the time of this shot.  The background trees catch a little light then the shoreline where I’m standing gets punched in the face with the full power of the sun… somewhat blinding.  The sun then creeps towards the trees then BAM!  All I heard was everyone on the shore firing away.

Two minutes later, the shot is gone.  The background is lit as well and the clear separation between the tree and the background disappears.

After the two hour build up, I was disappointed with the pics when I had a chance to look at them on a big screen.  My exposure settings were off and the image was over-exposed which resulted in a lot of detail lost. Only a couple months afterwards when I discovered Capture One version 8 was I able to recover the majority of the details in the leaves and balance out the picture.  Some of it is still unrecoverable.  For example, there’s no recovering the detail in the rocks by the tree.  They’re perfectly angled toward the sun that no detail has been captured.

Ah well, the pic is finally in a state that I’m happy with it.

Here’s some additional sunrise pictures:

Around the Lake

I made several trips around the lake over the three days.  The weather and the time of day can have a dramatic impact on the type of capture available.

Probably the most helpful hint I was given was to consider framing a landscape picture by keeping in mind elements to highlight in the foreground, mid-ground, and background.  This will help to provide a larger sense of depth to the image.  Vertical images provide a lot of room to add foreground elements with my 12mm wide-angle lens.  Also, the polarizer is a nice trick to cut through the reflections to reveal the foreground rocks below.

Lake O’Hara Fall Colours

Fall colours in Banff National Park doesn’t have the same range of colours that can be seen in Ontario.  I didn’t realize this before I visited.  Larches are the most common form of tree in the Lake O’Hara area and they only change colour to yellow.

It’s still impressive especially at key times of the day and when they’re back-lit.  We spent the Saturday on an 8 mile hike with plenty of ascents and descents.  I highlight this because the highest point we reached was only 250 metres above our starting height… and that doesn’t feel like the same journey that wiped me out.

The hike took us to just over Hungabee Lake and Moor Lake then back to the farther side of Lake O’Hara.

Lake Louise

I’m back now from my quick trip out to Banff.  This post will be the first in a series of pics that I took while visiting out west.  The landscape is so different from Ontario with the ever present Rockies.  I stopped several times on the Trans-Canada Highway just to enjoy the view.

Below are the photos from Lake Louise.  The lake itself has a unique turquoise colour due to the rock flour carried into the lake from the glacier runoff.

It was raining sporadically throughout the day.  That didn’t stop people from jumping in the (freezing) lake or renting a canoe.

CNE Long Exposure

The last weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition should be avoided if you’re claustrophobic.  I didn’t realize how busy it would be.  I saw a lot of long exposure shots on the web of the CNE and I wanted to try my hand at it as well.  However, dense crowds and tripods mix as well as fire and water.  It’s far too easy for someone engrossed in conversation to trip on one of the tripod’s legs and send the camera crashing down…

We were able to take the below shots from behind this Ferris wheel.  It was a nice out-of-the-way spot with a view of two spinning rides!

SpinningThe below shot required around six to ten seconds for an exposure to capture a good rotation for the vertical spinning ride.  However, the lights on the Ferris wheel would overexpose when exposed for more than four seconds.  So, the game began.  I would test various settings to underexpose just right while waiting for the rides to spin.  I used Lightroom to recover some of the highlights but the detail was mostly lost.

Ferris Wheel

What fair isn’t complete without fireworks? You have to be prepared though. It doesn’t last long.


Vscocam workflow

I’ve been experimenting with a simpler and more mobile approach to editing photos.  My Note 3 can read an SDHC memory card with an OTG USB cable.  I can then import photos one at a time into my mobile photo editing software of choice, Vscocam.  This process is a bit clunky and slow especially when compared to a desktop solution using Lightroom.  However, the benefit is that I have an extremely light and compact image editing process I can use when I’m traveling… or when I’m at a coffee shop afterwards.

Below are some garden shots I took while testing out my new RX100 ii.

Below is my phone connect to a simple SD card reader using the OTG USB cable.  The phone recognizes the card immediately and there’s no additional apps to install.

VSCOCAM + RX100 + Note 3 + OTG

All of this fits into my old Canon G9 pouch with plenty of room to spare!  I’m planning on attaching the 49mm filter accessory so that I can use a circular polarizer and an ND filter.

Old Canon G9 pouch

The one drawback with this approach is with uploading directly to WordPress.  The file size and resolution of my jpegs are maintained when uploaded to WordPress which consumes more space than I’d like.  It’s easier to upload to Google Plus or Flickr and let the sites take care of the resolution.  WordPress has a nice embed feature for Google Plus galleries.  Although, I still prefer the native WordPress gallery.

I’m very impressed with the image quality coming off this camera.  The last (not-so) compact camera I had was the Canon G10 and the image quality and dynamic range of the RX100 ii is in a different league.  I’m going to have fun with this camera.

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