thougts, words and images
Tue, 07 Jan 2014 15:46:00 +0000Happy Nepal
On December 2013 I was in Kathmandu to follow a new project on electrical transmission facilities in Trishuli area.
I was glad having the opportunity to visit this country especially for two reasons.
First, as a Engineer, I am really happy to support the development of the hydro-power potential of this country, which is trying to overcome a severe energy crisis, started already in the year 2008.
Second, as a Vipassana meditator, I had the opportunity to practice in a region very near to the origin of Buddha, which strengthened my motivations on following the wheel of Dharma in daily life.
Maybe because of the tight work agenda or maybe because of the inner peace of the moment, my stay in Kathmandu was not really focusing on photographic issues and my camera laid in the safe box of the hotel room almost all the time. I know, I should be not proud of that as a photographer :-).
Fortunately, I had with me the iphone, which I agree is not a professional photographic tool, but in this case gave to me the opportunity to provide some images for this blog and for future memories.
The following set of pictures are coming from the dinner I had the first evening after the arrival in Kathmandu, in a cozy Nepalese restaurant.
Wed, 18 Sep 2013 14:25:00 +0000Another World
Take 17 milk cows, two cats, two dogs, two goats, one rabbit, some chickens and a donkey with the name Charlie and put these subjects in the beautiful landscape of Dolomite mountains and you get a perfect place where parents can relax and children have a lot of fun.
The name of this place is Col de Tlames, a farm located at 1400 meters above sea level, near S.Martino in Badia, in the Italian region close to the borderline with Austria.
I spent there two weeks in July, with my life partner and my son and then I had also the opportunity to take some pictures for the website of the householder.
I use to live in a quite country area as well, but in that place I had the feeling to be really far away from any civilization (cool).
Actually this blog is not the place to make a review of the location, but it is really worth to mention the tasty milk fresh from the cows and the amazing bright star landscape during the night; the two houses and the cowshed are located enough far away from the nearest village and practically there is no light pollution disturbing the night view of the sky.
The family leading the farm was very kindly and Martin, one of the son, was explaining to us about milking, cows and the lifestyle of the region. Very nice.
As usual for this blog, I would like to present some frames from our photo service.
The indoor photos are the result of the overlay of two different exposures: one for the outdoor scene through the window and one for the interiors. This is a common technique used in architectural photography, in order to get a good exposure either for the part with plenty of light and the part in poor light conditions.
For all the photos I used the Zuiko SWD 12-60 f/2.8-4 lens, set almost all the time at 12mm (equivalent to 24 mm on a 35 mm camera), which was just at the limit to properly cover the indoor scenes.
A wider angle (maybe 8 mm) would perhaps work better in some frames.
With the exclusion of the double exposures, the photos have been post-processed only with the soft filter of Olympus camera, which personally I think it gave a nice pleasant mood, matching the purpose of the photo service.
Only for information, the funny muzzle in the last picture is Charlie, the donkey of the farm.
Tue, 11 Jun 2013 19:41:00 +0000Côte d'Ivoire through the car glass
A new business trip in Africa. As usual with short notice, just in time for Visa application, flight tickets and hotel booking. Destination: Abidjan, the "economic capital" of Côte d'Ivoire. Duration of the journey: five days. Shooting conditions: through the car glass.
For the first four days all working time would be in the Hotel, starting from morning to late evening, while for the fifth day a survey to two electrical high voltage substations (Abobo and Riviera) was planned. Actually it was a quite comfortable plan, but surely not the best conditions for trying to collect some nice photos of the country.
Nevermind! The Olympus E-3 body and the 25mm pancake lens would not take too much space in my luggage and hopefully some shooting occasions would somehow arise. This I thought when I packed my luggage (think positive!).
In fact, the chance to take some pictures around arrived on the fifth day, during our survey to the HV substations.
Everyone knows how HV substations look like also knows that the best chance to take good photos is on the way from the hotel to the substation rather than within the substation itself.
However, taking photos through the car glass of a running pick-up in the African roads may affect the the results of your photographic expectations.
The positive thing was that despite the fact the region has tropical monsoon climate and we were exactly in the middle of the rainy season, that day was magically not raining, there was plenty of light and all the African colors were surrounding my eyes.
We know, taking pictures is always a continuous adaptation to the circumstances and this time was not an exception. Only one short stop to eat some very good Lebanese food at Manuela Restaurant, then for the rest of the time I was compressed in the rear side of our nice pick-up trying to justify the fact I took my camera so far. What? Yes, luckily I had window seat :-)
After a large amount of ugly compositions, missing subjects, unwanted objects in the frame, under- and over-exposures and unlikely focus, I could "save" some frames, which I proposed in this post.
Lesson Learned: Due to the movement of the car, a combination of high shutter speeds with reasonable apertures and ISO values, worked quite well. There is no a magic combination of numbers, however, in situation like that I would really recommend to look at the LCD screen after every frame in order to adjust Aperture/Speed/ISO as necessary. Shutter speeds above 1/400 seconds worked in my case good.
Looking in front and panning the subject also helped me in keeping focus.
As always, Be Happy!
Tue, 02 Apr 2013 14:05:00 +0000Natural Light in Sudan
Eight days in Sudan, between Khartoum, the capital of North Sudan and Heglig, an oil field located at the border line with South Sudan, in the region of South Kordofan,.
The trip took place in March 2013, almost one year after the attack of South Sudan army to the Heglig camp.Before starting, due to uncertainty on safety conditions in South Kordofan, I decided to avoid to carry with me any additional photo equipment, which probably would attract too much attention. So I was traveling only with the Olympus E-3 body and the 25mm pancake lens. This means I had to deal only with the available natural light and I had no options for different lenses, which perhaps could work better than the compact 25 mm I carried with me.Luckily, due to the latitude of the region and the begin of the dry season, there was plenty of light.
I found the local people really nice, ready to help me either in my job and in small daily issues, often related to the hard environmental conditions; I would never thought it was so uncomfortable not having a lip balm with me.
During our stay we had to visit also a neighboring oil field called Neem, located 170 km North-West of Heglig. We went there by helicopter, which I discovered it can offer very good light also for hi-key portraits (I believe the engineer who designed the helicopter was not aware of that).
In this post there are some photos of people have been worked with me or around me in this mission.
The first the third and the fourth pictures were taken on the helicopter, during our transfer from Heglig to Neem.
Whilst, in the picture below, a guy is decommissioning a crude oil engine, which have been damaged by dynamite during the attack of South Sudan army on April 2012. One of the same engines is also captured in the last pictures, in front of the African sunset.
That's all for this short post. See you soon.
Fri, 11 Jan 2013 15:28:00 +0000"On my camera card" and "Fifty of Fifty" - a new gallery and a new project
Starting from today there is a new gallery in my photographic website. The name of the gallery is "On my camera card" and it can be accessed from the navigation bar.
"On my camera card" gallery there are my latest shots. The images I am actually working with, uploaded directly from the camera to the web site without any post-processing. All the adjustments are only per camera setting.
The uploading comes from a wi-fi SD cards plugged into the camera and therefore the images on the gallery will be uploaded just few minutes after the actual shot, representing in fact the latest photographic works, day by day.
The image that opens this new gallery is a B&W frame shot yesterday (10th of January 2013) at home - picture below. For this shot I used an old 50 mm f/1.4 Zuiko OM lens mounted on the Olympus E-5.
The beautiful aurora of glowing light around the subject - in this case my life partner - is created by using the well known Michael Orton technique, which basically consist in blending two or more images of the same composition; one in focus and the others out of focus.
This can be achieved on the Olympus E-5 digital camera, without additional post-processing software, by overlapping two or more consecutive shots.
The 50mm Zuiko OM lens I used in this shot is also the subject and the common thread of a personal photographic project that hopefully I will publish (soon or later) in this website.
The project - "Fifty of Fifty" - consists in 50 images shots with 50mm OM Zuiko lens mounted on Olympus E-5 body.
It represents a study on photographic composition. The idea is limiting some creative possibilities, such as the use of different focal lengths and colors in order to force other composition skills and open the mind to different original creative solutions.
The f/1.4 50mm OM Zuiko lens is a natural choice for the project, for many reasons. The 50 mm focal lengths do not provide any magnification of the subjects; what your eyes can see without camera does not change through a 50mm lens, which in turn is an advantage in the mental process of composition.
It is small and it has a lightweight construction; hence it can be easily carried everywhere.
It has a large aperture (f/1.4), allowing to work well in low light conditions and to have very narrow DoF.
There is no zoom and this make the 50mm lens more physical because it is necessary to move far or close to the subject depending on the aim of the actual composition.
The focus of the 50mm OM Zuiko lens is only manual. This can be a disadvantage in some circumstances, especially in the situation where a fast focusing is necessary. Nevertheless this is part of the game.
Hopefully I will come back early with some previews of the project.
Mon, 26 Nov 2012 04:00:00 +00007 Days in Winnipeg
A famous research centre on HVDC technologies based in Winnipeg, the capital and largest city of Manitoba - Canada. This is the reason of my visit in Winnipeg.
For those who is not familiar with HVDC, it is the acronym of High Voltage Direct Current, a technology based on power electronic converters, typically used (but not only) for transmission of large amount of electrical power through long distances.
The clever guys of Winnipeg have been developing a software for computer aided electromagnetic analysis that is very well suited to the study of HVDC systems and they are ready to share their knowledge and experience with other engineers worldwide.
As natural consequence, this journey was for me also a good occasion to take some pictures over ocean. At the begin I had in mind shooting the wild life of Canada with their incredible landscapes. Lakes, mountain, ice, snow, bison, lynx, caribou. Nothing was missing in my perfect photo plan.
However, very soon I realized that my mind was driven by too much passion, without consider that the time schedule of the course (the reason why I was there) would substantially limit my perfect photo plan. As a matter-of-fact, the first two frames posted here practically represent all my pictures shooting with sunlight! The first frame was shot in the early morning, during the way from the hotel to the HVDC Manitoba Research Centre; a short stop to drink a coffee at "Second Cup" the famous Canadian franchising and the second one, with aboriginal people riding horses on St. Mary Avenue, was taken just outside the parking place of hotel Delta were I stood..
However, despite the fact I had to reconsider my photo plan, I let come some occasion for shooting. After all I was in Canada with my camera equipment.
I found Canadian people in Winnipeg very friendly. If you ask them were to spend free time, everyone mention "The Forks". The Forks is not a famous Italian restaurant as the name could suggest, but a lovely place around the crosspoint between the Red and Assiniboine rivers, located in the downtown. Here there are touristic attractions, restaurant, market, shops and bars.
I stopped at the Espresso Junction, a nice place where they prepare a wide variety of coffees, tasty biscuits and play really good music, matching the relaxed atmosphere of the place.
I was happy to have with me the Olympus E-5, the flash FL50-R and a mini softbox from Lastolite to take this characteristic picture.
Walking around the Forks, there is also a curious shop called "Bayshore gift in Glass". Here Kevin and his team of artists create custom art objects made by glass. It is really worth to visit the shop with its thousands of colored glass figures and to observe "live" their talent in modelling glass with flames. Kevin allowed me to take a picture of his "good fighting" with a glass bear - next photo.
However, for those who do not pass this way, I discovered they have also a website here.
Finally, I was able to fly back to Frankfurt am Main just before a large snow storm and before the true winter in Winnipeg started. In the time of this writing their weather station register already minimum temperatures about -25°C.
Sat, 27 Oct 2012 09:20:00 +0000Still-Life with Mag-Lite
This is a good remedy for raining, cold and dark days, when the idea to go outside for shooting is far away from our mind, but we still have the will to feel the shutter button of the camera under the fingertips and try to do some light experiments in a warm a comfortable place.
The story of this shot started in the year 2001, when Fabio Zontini, a friend of mine, made a classical guitar with two holes. For whom knows a little bit about guitars this should sound a little bit strange, as the guitar usually have only one hole. Anyway, Fabio is a phenomenal guitar maker, a true artist and he knows all the secrets of the wood (and also of the cardboard, but this is another story). So, despite the two holes, the guitar look really good and have a great and warm sound. I still have this guitar with me.
Once I wanted to take a picture of the two-holes guitar (the second hole is in the right side of the instrument; the light on the internal label visible in the first picture of the post is coming from this hole). To do that, I borrowed the idea from "light painting", which is a photographic technique where the entire or part of the image is created by moving light sources during long exposure times.
The pictures created with this technique usually have interesting and curious light waves that can provide a great visual impact, but in some cases they can also spoil the reality of the things. As personally I wanted to have a quite realistic picture of the guitar, I decided to avoid the curious light waves.
On the other hands, I was aware that the use of directional light sources could help to give character and depth to my picture. So, I made some adjustments on camera set-up and lighting technique in order to have the shots I wanted.
The set-up of the camera and the lighting technique I used are described in this photo-recipe that I called "Still-life with Mag-lite".
- Mini Maglite AAA
- Olympus E-3;
- Tripod Benro;
- Remote control for camera (optional);
- Fabio Zontini guitar;
We will work with long shutter speeds (about 20-30'') and we want to avoid interferences with natural light. For that we should find a place were it is possible to make dark. A room with roll shutters is exactly what we need.
Then, the subject of the picture shall be placed in a position were we can turn around it (and the camera as well) without hindrance. More comfort in movements means better results in the picture. In my case, the guitar was hanging in the ceiling with a nylon wire.
The camera has to be on the tripod. No doubt on this. 30'' exposure in the semi-darkness with a flashlight in one hand and the camera in the other hand I cannot really image that can be successfully managed, even by Joe McNally :-).
Theoretically the function anti-shock on the camera can be deactivated, as the shutter will be opened in the darkness and the vibrations caused by the movement of the mirror will be not relevant in this case. However, it was not so bad to have still the two seconds delay of the E-3 Olympus anti-shock system at my disposal before start lighting. So I decided to work with the anti-shock function on.
With this technique, the proper shutter speed depends not only by aperture and ISO values of the camera, but also by the size of the object we are shooting and the power of the flashlight. Consider that a small flashlight will allow us to give more control of the light, shadows and nuances, but will require to go over the same parts of the object several times before reaching a sufficient exposure. This takes time and needs long shutter speeds.
ISO shall be the lowest as possible (i.e. 100), as we have already enough noise problems due to long shutter speeds.
Large f aperture values are our friends. For same exposure values, large f values lead to long shutter speeds, which give us the time to light the subject with relative calm and from different angles.
Moreover, a considerable depth of field will help also to keep better focus on all the parts of the subject.
The final camera set up I adopted for both the pictures of this post was:
ISO: 100, Aperture F16, Shutter speed: 30 seconds
This setting works quite well with the Mini Maglite and objects in the size of the guitar (or even smaller).
Anyway, try it and make your experiments and adjustments to find out what is good for you.
The use of a remote control for the camera is advisable, as we can be ready to light the subject of our picture before shot.
The angle of incidence of the light is very important. Consider that side light is mild, helps sharpen textures and give depth to the image, while front light result more hard, brilliant and could create light-spot if not properly controlled. Light in the edges of the object is a good idea, it has similar effect to the hair-light used in portraiture. In this case, contours will be nicely defined.
We can light the object from different directions, left, right, up, down, taking care to light all the parts of the object, with more persistence on edges and details that present irregular shape. This will give strong character to the image.
All the time we should be careful not to point the flash lamp in the direction of the camera lens, otherwise we will have curious light waves in the pictures.
Wed, 24 Oct 2012 04:00:00 +0000First Post
Here we are. A selection of organized photos are in plane sight on the new homepage, the html codes for the blog are finally tamed and a lot passion for photography is a perfect fuel for the engine that brought me in this adventure.
I am still looking around trying to become confident with the new environment and I suddenly realize that I am already working on my first post.
What's the next? This thought has been bouncing in my mind since the begin of this photographic project. Anyway, in that time I was more busy in selecting some decent pictures within the tens of thousands RAWs stored in my hard-disk, find the way to set up the web sites, spending lovely time with my family and of course doing also some business to pay my bills. So, until know the question "What's next ?" was time to time coming in the surface of my mind, but very quick was covered by other priorities.
Well, now I cannot escape. I need an answer for my bouncing question. What's next?
To do that I decided to simply and honestly look in my inner self to find the reason why I wanted to start this blog, hoping that there I could also find the reason to go on and an inspiration for the next step.
I thought about that over the night, I was full of doubts but finally everything was for me clear. The reason why I wanted to start this blog is to give the opportunity to the images I have been shooting since several years to tell their own story.
Why is it so important? Because inside the story of images there is our story, our emotions, our dreams. Simply our life.
This is why I start this project and this should be the leitmotiv of the future topics for this blog.
At the moment I have in mind just a couple of idea for the next posts. I will try to include interesting stories, nice pictures but also technical stuff that can be helpful to others photographs, especially for beginners.
I will include also some technical stuff related to Olympus camera (E-5, E-3) and flashes (FL50R), as I am quite confident with that. Nevertheless, there is no pretense to give the right solution for each technical issue, this can be found in the photographic books and manuals, rather I will write about my personal experience, on what it was good for me in that particular case and in that specific moment.
I really hope you will enjoy to read about photography and surroundings in this blog.
Before close this first post, I would like to spend few words on the photo posted here.
I shot it in Liguria region - Italy - on the street that leads to the "Fasce" mountain. In that time I was living not so far from there.You can have a lot of fun with the motorbike in such a kind of streets; it is a continuous succession of curves with up and down.
A first time I went there few days before the shot and it was for some tests on an equipment for soil resistivity measurements, related to my former job.
Because of the nice environment and good weather I went there by motorbike, an Harley 883, that I parked along the road, beside the area where I planned to test my equipment.
I moved twenty meters away in the meadow, I looked back at my motorbike and I realized that a very good image was in front of my eyes, without any plan, ready to be shot. Unfortunately I had no the camera with me in that time, so I decided to use the mobile for taking a draft picture.
After few days, I looked again in my mobile and was really cool: the motorbike, the road and the empty sky as witness. Yes, a good portrait for the novel by Jack Kerouac "On the Road".
The day after I was again in the same place with my old camera and I took the shot I posted here.
I loved so much this photo that I decided to participate to a contest where I was asked to provide twenty pictures covering a free choice theme. Immediately I thought about the theme: the Road.
Very soon I discovered that the selected theme would require to spend a lot of time on the Road to collect 20 good pictures. So that, due to the short time to enter the concourse I was not really satisfied of the collected portfolio.
Despite this disappointment, I continue to love this shot.