Nov 24, 2009

Fall on the lake

A few older ones from the archives… These were shot around Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, in the fall of 2006.


DS2_3163wSome of the modest shoreline ‘cottages’
  DS2_3244w The famous Algonquin chairs

Gear notes: D200, 18-200VR

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Nov 19, 2009

Three variations

How much is too much? In other words: how far can you push it in post-processing? I don’t believe there is just one answer. After all, it is a matter of personal preference, and dependent on the intent the photographer wants to express with the picture.
 _DS74953w Here’s an image shot in the beguinage church of Diest. The first version results from a single 12-bit RAW frame, exposed 1sec at f/5.6 at ISO 400, carefully processed in Lighroom 2.5. Click on the picture to enlarge and see more detail. Not too shabby, a good example of what you can obtain from a state-of-the-art DSLR.

_DS74949-55EBwThe next version is the result of 4 different RAW exposures (adding -4EV, –2EV and +2EV frames to the one used above), taken from Lightroom into Photomatix Pro 3.1 using the Exposure Blending process. There’s a lot more detail now, especially in the highlight areas, but also in shadows. Local contrast is higher and colors are more saturated. But overall the image keeps its natural photographic look – which is why I prefer this technique.

_DS74949-55TMwTaking the same four frames through Photomatix Pro, this time applying the Tone Mapping method, gives a very different outcome. Less realistic for sure, but not without its own artistic quality. And I haven’t pushed the sliders that far at all!

For now, I keep my preference for the ‘natural’ look when taking the HDR route. But I will continue to experiment and explore more creative opportunities whenever there’s a hint of an interesting outcome. After all, post-processing has always been part of the fun, whether the room is dark or light…

Gear notes: D700, 17-35/2.8

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Nov 13, 2009

Trick or treat?


One of the last places you expect signs of the Halloween craze is in a quiet, religiously inspired setting… And yet, in the beautifully preserved 16th century beguinage of Diest, that’s where I found some during a recent Saturday afternoon photowalk.


Today, the once secluded community is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site. It houses a museum, a cultural center, a lace-making school and an art gallery. The current residents are mostly senior citizens. Still a great place for great pictures!


Gear notes: D700, 24-70/2.8

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Nov 8, 2009

Quite a little gem

Located on the Museum Square, on Brussels' Mont des Arts, the private chapel of the palace of Charles de Lorraine is an artistic jewel from the 18th century. Originally a catholic chapel, it was attributed to the protestant religion by imperial decree of Napoleon in 1804. King Leopold the first, a protestant Monarch, attended service there, as did the princes of Orange before him, and thus the church was called the "Royal Chapel”. The building has been completely restored to its original decoration in white and gold in 1970 and 1987.

Besides its religious role, the protestant chapel also has an important position in the musical culture in Brussels. It houses both an 1840 Dreymann organ and a 1699 Forceville organ. On a regular basis, the chapel welcomes concerts and also offers the pupils of the "Conservatoire Royal" the space and quality instruments for their end of term contest. The Church is also used for recordings by renowned artists.

This chapel presents quite a photographic challenge. The different light sources with widely varying intensities, combined with the subtle colors and tones of the decoration make it very hard to realize anything close to a realistic rendition (there really is NO white to be found in this chapel...). An excellent playground therefore to test and refine my HDR capture and processing techniques!

I was lucky to be introduced to this magical place by a friend, who truly knows every corner of Brussels worth photographing. You normally have to make an appointment with the volunteer guides to visit. In the summer however, there is a permanency on Thursday afternoon.

Vaut le détour!

Gear notes: D700, 17-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8

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