Munich, Germany – Olympic Park – IR (Infrared)

Munich Olympic Park - IR

NIKON D70S (Modified IR by LifePixel), Nikon 18-70

I had a free evening to enjoy Munich and planned to visit the Olympic Park.  The objective was the soccer field for some HDR’s.  I arrived at 7 PM and unfortunately the gates were closed to the soccer stadium.  Looks like a great spot for and HDR…one day I will get back.  So then I decided to walk around the park and enjoy the scenery. 

In the Olympic Park they have a concert hall, swimming hall, tennis courts, great internal roads (for bike riding, roller blading, jogging, etc…)  It was a beautiful nite, so there were lots of people having a great time.  There are also a few lakes and as I walked by this one, the sun was very bright and the reflections on the water were wonderful!  I figured a good time for an IR shot! 

I took this shot and post processed in Photoshop.  I played around with the hues and liked the sky in red.  A nice contrast to the white trees.  I really enjoy experimenting different shots with my IR camera….but standard lake photos with trees are a must!!!  Enjoy!

London, England – Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square Nite

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Trafalgar Square is  geat meeting point in London.  Down the street you can view Big Ben and in other directions are Buckingham Palace and Picadilly Circus….all within a 10 minute walk!    And being from Texas…right next to Trafalgar is a restuarant called Texas Embassy!  Its Tex-Mex style and the food is reasonably priced and very good!    Also close to Trafalgar are a few good souvenier shops that I visit each time I am in London.

I took this shot around 11 PM when the square was quiet.  I used a longer expsoure to capture the water in motion.  It wonderful to see the fountains illuminated with different colors.  They switch multiple times through the nite.   Enjoy!

Munich, Germany – Neues Rathaus – HDR

Munich - Rathaus HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

The Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) is located at Marienplatz in Munich, Germany.  It hosts the city government including the city council, offices of the mayors and part of the administration.  It was built bewtween 1868 and 1907.  1874 was the last usage for the old town hall.  The basement of the New Town Hall belongs to a restuarant called the Ratskeller. 

Munich is one of my favorite cities in Germany.  The people, acrhitecture and the train systems to get around locally are wonderful!   I have spent many an evening in front of this New Town Hall eating at the outdoor restaurant seating overlooking this beauiful building….and of course having a nice cold German beer! 

I took this shot at a great time for HDR….the blue hour!   When the builings are lit up at nite, the sun goes down and the sky is a nice royal blue.  A nice contrast for any photo…especially HDR’s!!   I took this with my usual 5 exposures, tripod, cable release….processed in Photomatix.  Auf Wiedersehen!!

London, England

Big Ben Underground Color Mix

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Here is a classic London shot that I saw no one taking.  This Underground sign is right across the street from Big Ben.  Its tough angle though.  There is an overhang to deal with from behind.  It looks like its fake and it was cut and pasted….but its a real shot!! 

I always like to take these Underground signs keep them in color and process the the background in black & white in Photoshop.  Adds a nice effect.   I still have tons of pics to process…I tried this also in an HDR…but this version was better.  Cheers!

Brussels, Belgium – Town Hall – HDR

Brussels, Belgium - Town Hall HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

I was in Brussels, Belgium recently and only had 1 day…so a quick stop over.  It was my first visit to anywhewre in Belgium.  I’ll give you more details on Brussels in future posts.  But I must say it is very beautiful place!  Who am I kidding…most everywhere in Europe is amazing! 

My hotel was a 20 minute wlk to this lovely square.  It is called the Grand Place.   They say it is the most beautiful square in the world!  It was breathtaking!  I walked down during the day and took alot of daytime shots, then walked down at nite with my tripod and waited til sunset.  It was a Satruday nite…so anytime was ok for me.  The sun finally set at 10 PM!  So this shot was around 10:30 at nite!  Unreal!

Such a festive square!  Restuarants fill the corners of the square with outdoor dining.  Lots of people are walking around and taking pictures.   As I sat down and waited til sunset a small church choir started to sing inthe middle of the square.  A crowd gathered and they sang for about a half hour.  I was amazed that some songs were English!   It brought a smile to my face to see such enjoyment in the world.   I do not think I will ever forget this nite.  You know that feeling you get when you travel…how it seems so sureal. 

I’m sure I will have a few more posts from this square for you.  This trip is almost over and I think I took 90% of my shots in HDR!  This nice sun setting shot was my usual 5 exposures, tripod, cable release – post processed in Photomatix.  As the square was large…I brought out my 12-24 wide angle lens in order to get more in the photo.   

It was funny as soon as the sun set…I walked into the square with my tripod and some older lady came next to me with a tripod and she followed me around and copied my shots for about 10 minutes.  I’d move to a new location – look up after checking out my shot in the viewfinder and strangely there she was 5-10 feet away.  Hope she got some good pics!!  I think I did.  Photographers are funny people indeed!  Have fun!

Lenses: Discussion #1

As an avid photographer and partial world traveler, I always carry lots of euipment with me on my busniess trips.    My bag typically weighs 30-40 lbs!   Often I ask myself what are the perfect lenses for traveling?  I usually take landscape and architecture photos….occasionally some macro shots if I know of a Botanical Garden or their is a possibility of local flowers being beautiful. 

As most of us are not wealthy photographers (for me its a fun extra hobby), we cannot afford the best lenses (top quality glass) available.  Most of my lenses are very good…but not the best.  I currently use the following lenses are my travels:

1) Nikon 18-200 VR F/3.5-5.6 ED (DX)   2) Nikon 12-24 f/4 ED (DX)    3) Nikon 105 VR F/2.8 ED-IF 

The lenses run from $600-$900 each.  Not cheap and but decent!  As a Nikon shooter, I regularly watch the DTown TV podcast with Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski – DTownTV  They just aired episode 16 regarding lenses.  It was their best show yet.  Filled with good info.  For those who use Nikon equipment – please watch it if you can! 

Both Scott and Matt noted their favorite lenses.   After watching, I wanted to post what would be my dream lenses to have if I was traveling (my bag would weigh alot more!) The higher end lenses definately have more weight!  Here is my list:

1) Nikon 70-200 VR F/2.8 ($1900)   2) Nikon 12-24 f/2,8 ($1750)  3) Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 ($2000)

Ah to dream.  I have used the 70-200 and was amazed!!  I have not tried the 12-24 or the 24-70.  If any of you have them…let me know how they are!    Watching the show it made me realize that the future for my camera usage will be a full frame sensor.  Maybe the D4 when it comes out?   My D300 will soon be obsolete….even now I heard the D300s is coming soon with video.  But my current lenses work on the D300 DX body.   I better start saving now!

You can definately spends lots of money on your equipment!  I know there are tons of lens options out there.  If you have a good lens for traveling…tell me what it is and how you like it?

London, England – Parliment Building – HDR

London Parliment HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

Its been a great trip to London…wonderful business and I always have fun taking pics at nite!  The sun sets in London this time of year at 9:17 PM.  I walked over the Westminster Bridge and was only 50 yards away from the London Eye (gigantic ferris wheel).  I camped out riverside and waited.  The sun was setting and I snapped away until the local security guard asked me to stop using my tripod.  He told me they are not allowed near the bridge. 

So at least I got a few shots in!  This one was the traditional 5 exposures, tripod, cabel release and processed in Photomatix.  It needs a little more touch up…so I will take care of this when I get home.  I had a free afternoon today and visited Stonehendge.  I took a bunch of HDR’s, IR and standard shots.  I’ll get the next post up Sunday…traveling to Brussels tomorrow.  Cheers to London – its been fun!

London, England – Westminster Abbey – Infrared

Westminster Abbey IR

NIKON D70S (Modified IR by LifePixel), Nikon 18-70

The sun finnaly came out in the UK and I had my chance to take some IR (Infrared) shots!  I have a few Big Ben IR’s…I’ll save them for later – I do not want to make this a Big Ben photo blog – although it is a great subject!  Big Ben was probably the most photographed spot for me this past week. 

This photo is of Westmintster Abbey.  It is located right next to the Parliment Building/Big Ben.  There is not much around it…so I wanted to make sure to get a little bit of this tree in the shot to add to the IR effect.   The sun was setting around 7 Pm and was very bright.  It made the Wesminster Abbey light up in IR!   I have had a great time in London.  I’ll keep posting more pics!  Enjoy!

London, England – Big Ben – HDR

London - Big Ben HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

Here is my first HDR of Big Ben…when I visited London recently – this was my number one target for an HDR.  Even better – the day was very cloudy and gray.  Cloud cover when shooting and HDR gives the photo such feeling.  It was sprinkling this day and I had to wipe off my lens numerous times.  

I think I HDR’ed the heck out of Big Ben this day.  So far this is the only HDR I have processed from London.  I took about 25 different angles of the building.  I may even have a better shot?  I’ll work on these later on.   I fought the crowds with my tripod and used 5 exposures and a cable release.   When its crazy and I am using a tripod one thing I alway do is –  even when my camera is mounted to the tripod I keep the strap around my neck.  Just in case if someone trips on my tripod…my camera is saved!

Prepare for a bunch of London shots later in the week.  Cheers!

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Switzerland

NIKON D300, Nikon18-200 VR

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and  is known as the cultural capital of Switzerland.  The capital of Switzerland is Berne.  Zurich is known as the wealthiest city in Europe.   A very expensive city.   We went shopping one day down the main street.  Any expensive shop you want and it is here…and also of course some wonderful Swiss Watch shops.  All a bit too expensive for me.  But the one thing you can buy here at a low cost is Swiss Chocolate!!!  Great stuff!!  We brought a bunch back with us for our families. 

The city itself is small and very charming.  Great little side streets with restaurants and little mom & pop shops.   You can walk it in a day or two.   Some great sights are the Grossmunster Church, Fraumunster Church, St, Peter’s Church (with the clock face), Old Town, Lake Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse (main shopping street near the train station), and Parade-Platz (where all the main Swiss banks are located).

Zurich is a must visit if you are near.  In the winter the Swiss Alps are not too far for some unreal skiing!   While I was there I did not hear in the the distance any one yelling…Ricola!!