Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The town of Waldhäuser

Frozen lake behind the hotel

Alright, so maybe I'm wrong and it's not a town but that was the best I could come up with through my horrible google skillz. The hotel that I was put up at was the Hote-Pension (see: http://www.salzsaeumer.com ). I was frankly quite surprised to see how good the hotel was given the price we paid for the trip (airfare, hotel, transport, pro-photog guide). Not only that, I found the food really good, and well worth the money paid.

 My usual love of door photography.

As it was a saturday, most of the shops were closed by the time we came back from the wildlife park.

Leaf shapes in frozen pool

The location, Waldhäuser, is seemingly located inside the Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald, and takes just about 5 minutes to drive from the hotel. I could probably hoof it in half an hour or less.

Signposts at the entrance to the town

I find doors.... fascinating.

Some bread shoppe, I assume. Closed, sadly. I was out looking for local food.

Some candy machine besides the bread shoppe.

A hubcap? 

A playground, I suppose.

Not sure what this is. A little big to be a bird feeder.

Totem Pole?

More bread shoppe goodness :3

Color contrast baby!

The church. Didn't think of it at the time, but I should have entered. Darn!

The following is a few more pics from inside the park.

Loads of space on the viewing platform. 

The wolf pens are huge. Seriously huge.

Fair amount of Nikon shooters this time round. Almost half were Nikon.

The bokeh of the 300/4 isn't too bad in this case.


I leave thee with a bear...

This is also my first wildlife photos processed using my new toys, and I am also experimenting with a new, less contrasty look to my photos.

Camera System: Nikon
Operating System: Ubuntu 9.04
Colorimeter: i1 Display 2
IPS Screen - Dell 2209WA
Color management software: Argyll CMS
Raw Processor: Bibble Pro 4.10
Printing Software: DDIS Qimage Pro
Printer: Epson R285 

Running out of ink, so once payday comes about, I'll be printing one or two of my favourites :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bavaria Trip Report


Just finished processing my selects from the trip to Bavaria, and here are a few of them :) The trip out was slightly marred by the airline's computers going down, causing all the passengers to be booked in manually. Which was a royal pain. Not only that, the flight was delayed by several hours.

Winter in the park

Though the park itself is in Bavaria, the flight was to Prague, and were driven to the hotel (crossing the border), a trip that took about two and a half hours.

Purr.... are you my dinner?

Had dinner, then turned in for the night in preparation for a day of shooting.

Don't wanna wave the branch anymore.

3 primary targets were designated: Bears, Wolves and Lynxes. On the first day, we spent a few hours with the bears, followed by the wolves and the lynxes.

A wood splinter I found interesting. (300/4 + 1.4x)

There were many, many other critters as well, however the park is *really* big, and some of the enclosures are the largest I've ever visited in any park ever.

Om nom nom nom!

A few other critters include wildcats, otters, badgers, deer, bison, wild boar plus several more I was a little too distracted to take note. There were also some birds kept in avaries.

On the trail we go...

The gear brought along was more or less the same list from the previous post, except that I decided not to bring along the SB28 and remote triggers - no space, plus I really doubt I would have the chance to use 'em.

Paw and paw print.

The first day out I tried dual wielding the D300 + 300/4 (sometimes with the 1.4x) and D200 + 70-200VR. It was slightly annoying to carry around the 2nd body and lens, given that I have not yet figured out a convenient way of holstering it. Maybe one day, but the rest of the days I decided to use the long lenses on the D300, and left the 16-85 on the D200 for environment shots, but kept in my pack.

Don't hurt me :(

The enclosure for the wolves is very very big, at least the same size as the tiger enclosure in the Highland Wildlife Park, and is host to at least a dozen furballs.

Winter Leaves

Dominance in action.

I got what I came to shoot, side profiles, and head on/rear profiles of the wolves. Should be enough for my life drawing practice. There will be another open day at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, will probably visit to see if I can get more close ups of the leg structure.

On the way home.

The following day saw us spending most of the time with the Lynx and Wolves, the bears having being very awsome and provided all of us with excellent shots. I caved in on the 2nd day and took a few waving shots...

Did you know bears can float?

Couldn't really get too into the lynx. Maybe because I'm more of a wolf person, not a cat person.

Lynx tail detail.

We wrapped up the 2nd day early as most of us were worn out from the activities of both days so far, and the weather was turning bad. As I was very hungry for some reason, I had a nice meal of Bratwurst, then proceeded to walk around town with the D200 + 16-85. Will post later, as there are a fair number of panos to process.

Resting up!

On the final day, we arrived at the park before 8, and again proceeded to check out the lynx and wolves, though some of the photographers went over to the bears. We left rather early that day, in order to make our flight back home.

Wolf in mist :P

Wish this trip could have been made at a better time but oh well.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whee off to shoot bears, WOLVES and lynx!

It's finally time! And in fact I almost kinda forgot about it due to being so busy. But yes, I will be joining Chris Weston's Europe's Great Predator's photo trip. Woot!

It's like a 4 day trip, but I reckon the first and last days will be spent mostly on flying between countries and getting to/fro the accomodation. Bloody excited, but at the same time I haven't yet packed my luggage and I have a feeling my trusty monopod will be giving me fits in the check-in baggage.

Initial list of photography related items would be
- D200 & D300
- SB600, SB28, Wireless triggers, Flash Extenders, Gels, Flag (!!!)
- 300/4 AF-S
- 70-200VR
- 16-85VR
- Digital Camera for videos
- Spare Cards, Batteries
- HyperDrive Space
- Chargers (note to self: Bring phone charger!)

Initial idea would be tack the 70-200 on the D200 (VR + fast lens to compensate for the lower iso range, and the 300/4 on the D300, so hopefully this will be a usable duel-weld combo). May switch to the 16-85 on the D200 instead, depending on the location. Am also wondering if I should bring along the primes... GAH! I'm also going to try to NOT use the flash as much this time round. We'll see...

Weather reports indicate possibility of rain, which half of me finds exciting, and half of me finds meh :D So long as the bears and wolves appear in the rain, I won't care - it only makes the shots more unique.

Still got fever on the brain, hopefully it clears up :(

Monday, March 22, 2010

I liked Nanny McPhee 2!

Watched the premier of Nanny McPhee 2 today at the Odeon in Leicester Square. Wow. I like premiers :)

Ok so I worked on it and perhaps I'm slightly biased, however, it was a good fun show. Loved the dialog, very witty and had me and my non-vfx friend laughing from the get-go. It's great as the dialog still appeals to the adults in the show. Ok well, at least me and my friend. And the kids are probably quite highly entertained as well. Effects wise, as usual I cringing at my shots and sequences but they seemed pretty good when watched in the cut with the proper music and all.

The ending was very touching, and I was actually in tears as it was quite emotional, however, tbh I am not in the best of emotional states at the moment so :-/

My personal comment would be: Could have more wolves in the show. Like. 10. Or 28. Maybe 3 wolf packs saving the world with the good Nanny. Oh yeah. I can see the next show now! Nanny McPhee saving a wolf reserve! Woot! :P

GW <- brain slightly addled. Needs more water.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Addison Group of Singers: Classical Concert Shoot

Continuing the choir shoots, today I visited the St Michael's & All Saints Church in Chiswick. The Addison Group Of Singers was having a classical concert this evening, however no shooting would be allowed then. The rehearsals were fine though, and they want pictures for their website, and I thought it was a good chance to try something different, so it's a win-win situation here.

It was a slightly ardous journey as the tube lines near the church were under servicing, and I took about half an hour to hoof it to the location. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't raining! I arrived at the church with my jeans drenched as I didn't pack my overpants gah.

My usual mantra: Get close. No, even closer.

The night before, it was the usual agonizing over which lens to bring. The gig twins, the 24/2.8D and 50/1.8D were definitely in the bag. The 16-85 was also included since the place was totally unknown.  The 70-200VR was heavily in consideration, but dropped it as a) I would definitely need to bring a monopod. b) London tube with monopod and 70-200 on weekend? NO! c) Draws waaay to much attention.
50mm FTW!

I like the juxtaposition here.

The rear of the church had a big open area which unfortunately came in very very dark in the shots, even with the magnificent stained glass windows.

Thankfully, as I was warned it's a reasonably big church, I brought out part of strobist kit: my main SB600, 2x SB28s and radio triggers.

I placed one SB28 set at full power behind the last row, equipped with something I seldom use - a diffuser! I thought it worked reasonably well to bring out the color of the walls.

 Doing my usual tilt-the-frame thing.

Enjoying the music

There was not enough ambient light from the front to fill in the conductor and some of the front row musicians. I also didn't want to use direct flash at them, instead bouncing the remainder of my flashes off the walls. The SB600 and SB28 were triggered to the left of the stage, to provide fill for the lead singers.

Yes that's TWO flashes providing the fill. And it's not enough.

That's it with no flash, just pure ambient.

The effect is very subtle, but it's there. And that's using TWO flashes at full power. To double the power, I would need a total of 4 flashes. Gah. Still I think it works out alright.

Next week I should be in Germany doing what I do best. Shooting wolves and bears in Bavaria :)

Till next week...


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Faye Patton @ Stratford Theatre Royal

I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Ms Faye Patton this evening at the Stratford Theatre Royal. Here's a few of my favourites:

Faye had already informed the bar and staff of the place about a photog going shutter happy, and her main desire was to have shots of her playing the piano, with the keyboard, hands and all. Hopefully she will find them useful!

The body I took along, was the D300. Again, the light levels were low. Not Monkey Chews low, maybe half a stop more light? And the surroundings were much more diffuse. Lens wise, it was the usual duo, the 28/2.8 and the 50/1.8 (I'm sort of thinking of buying a 50/1.4D... but nah. Dof is narrow enough as it is). Was agonizing a little in the morning about bringing the 16-85, but decided to just shoot fixed focal lengths. Not a bad decision, given the lighting.

ISO was fixed at HI-1 (6400) the entire evening, and with a touch of noise ninja, it is simply amazing when I think back to the horrible scans of 800 iso film...