Friday, January 30, 2009

New Zealand, Day 6...

Day 6 was even more bland of a day for photos, we basically spent the day traveling (partly due to airplane malfunction... boy I'm just having the greatest luck with airplanes... first typhoon delays then malfunction...). I did get a few shots that I liked at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens and a few shots in Rotorua (north island where we spent the night) that I liked. As usual, the full album is available here:

On a side note, earlier this year I was in a huge slump in terms of photography, I didn't like any of the shots I took and just felt uninspired. Two fellow photogs that I met through Picasa (who says Picasaweb is not social!) really kind of helped me get out of that slump and gave me a lot of great inspirations. I've come to really respect their comments/critiques and enjoy learning from them. The first is Joe, especially his back to nature album.

I really liked his album quite a bit, his eye for catching beautiful patterns in nature... his play of light vs shadow... the simpleness of his photos, etc. So during my walk through the botanical gardens, I couldn't help but remember his photos, how simple often equals beautiful. Feeling particularly inspired by his branch silhouette shots (those shots shooting upwards creating a shadow effect of the branches), I tried to try it myself...

While no where near as good as Joe's photos were, I rather liked the results. Just need to keep my eyes open for those simple beautiful patterns that occur naturally... This also requires me to remember to simplify my photos, cut away unnecessary elements and just focus in on the core. Thanks Joe!

The second photog is of course Alex, I was really impressed by his patterns album at first, but what really stayed with me months after first viewing it was his "have a seat" album. I just love the feels he creates with a simple photo of an empty bench. Sometimes it is loneliness, sometimes it is grandeur, sometimes it is just fun. As a result, when I saw this bench in the garden, I knew I just had to get a photo of it...

I really like the "nice Sunday afternoon in the park" feeling to it, where the bench is particularly inviting, welcoming you to come sit down for a moment, relax, forget about the world and all its troubles. Just, stop, sit back, and relax... close your eyes and breath in all that fresh air. My only regret is I didn't accept the invitation, but instead I hurried past the bench moving on in search of my next shot. Next time, I will have a seat.

Oh also notice the photo is B&W, it happens that this seemed to work well with the subject, but there is another reason why it is B&W.... The day was extremely overcast which meant no real contrast in the scene, no shadows, no depth, the green grass and tree leaves were all just muted. Instead of trying to play with saturation and brightness to try to get some "pop" back, I decided to make the photo B&W. Instead of just plain and simple B&W, I essentially made it a filtered B&W to bring out particular colors (I actually adjusted the color filter individually under Lightroom's grayscale option). In this case, the green / yellow was made much brighter to create nice contrast against the dark bench and tree trunk. So keep this in mind, the next time you end up with a bland image from an overcast day (or one with over exposed sky), consider making it B&W to conceal some of these faults and let you accentuate some other aspects of the photo.

Here is another B&W photo from the day that I really liked. The original color version really wasn't very special, everything was just brown and white (with some light green) but once I made it B&W I could really bring out the trees much better and separate it from everything.

Here is another processed version of the same scene, this time modifying Lightroom's "cold tone" present slightly:

Finally, another HDR (man... I really went nuts with HDR on this trip...)

This is a photo of the Hagglund which is a pretty cool Antarctic vehicle. With the skies just clearing and the sun just over the building... I knew I wanted to capture the typical dramatic vehicle shot with lens flare and all. So I got down low, and aimed up at the sun hoping for some interesting lens flares. The angle just makes the Hagglund look that much more powerful (shooting up at subject always conveys more respect/power, just be careful when using that technique with people as it can make their chin look wide...). The main reason I decided to make it an HDR was because I was still shooting into the sun so I didn't want to completely blow out the sky while keeping the parts of the vehicle that is in the shadow relatively well exposed.

Sorry if my day 6 photos weren't quite as exciting or beautiful as previous days. Unfortunately I think this is about it for "scenic" shots... only 1 more day of photos left for New Zealand. Now it's like a journey 4 months in the making :p but I guess it'll all be over soon. Just 1 more days worth of photos :(.