St. Stephens day

posted in Budapest, Hungary on with No Comments

So I’m back home from Budapest, and despite it raining around half of the time I was there, I think I got few nice shots. Of course the reason I went there this time were the St. Stephens day celebrations, which are always finished with huge fireworks. This time I wanted to get a little different view than last time, but I stupidly chosen a bad spot, from which I could not see most of them. So I quickly (very quickly :) ) searched for a new spot during the fireworks, and I think I found one that was quite alright. You can judge by yourself from the today’s photo.

This is a single exposure edited in Lightroom, Oloneo Photoengine and Photoshop.
St. Stephens day

Quick sale

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I’m away again, in Budapest again, and should be back tomorrow. And since I planed this trip from day to day, I don’t have a photo for today. So to make up for it, how about a quick sale for today, of my video tutorial. Use the code “QUICKSALE” to get 30% off from the price. That’s around 15usd off from the normal 49usd price (So the new price is 34,30 usd). The code will be active for the next two days :)

Add to Cart

To get all the info, and sample videos on the series, please check the Master exposure blending page.

and hear you can see the introduction video, to see what it’s about

No tripods allowed

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As it quite often happens, that one wants to take photos where tripods are not allowed (usually for some very stupid reason that just does not make sense :)), one always has to be prepared with some alternative to a tripod. And in this post, I’m will go through some of the available alternatives, and what to do when nothing is available.

1. Ask for a permission

You would not believe how often just asking is all you need to do. If you are in a place, where you can find a person responsible for the area, just try to ask. It never hurts. Also, if you know that you will be there in a certain time, try writing them before and asking for a permission. Not always, but really often they will reply and give you access. And don’t forget. Be nice and polite. Never get offensive. If you are nice to the people, they will usually try to be nice to you, and grant you your request.

It’s actually funny, that sometime they don’t see a reason why you are asking, as they think that using a tripod should be a normal thing. For instance it happened to me in the Westminster Cathedral in London, where the answer to my question on using a tripod was of course, why should it not be allowed. It was doubly interesting, as in the Westminster abbey not only the tripods, but not even photography was allowed :)

2. Use a clamp/gorrilapod

A great alternative to a tripod is a clap. If you get a good one (like the Manfrotto clamp), it’s even sturdier than a tripod, when attached to a good place. It you are at a place with thin railings, glass walls and similar, this is the way to go. Of course don’t attach it to everything, especially things that can be broke or damaged easily. Also in some places clamps are not allowed, mostly due to the possibility to damage something. Usually, if something does not look cheap, don’t attach the clamp :)

An alternative to a clamp is a gorrilapod. It gives a bigger versatility in what can it be attached to, It’s just not as stable as a properly attached clamp.

3. Use a mini-tripod

Mini or talbetop tripods are made mostly for compact and small cameras, but there are few out there, that can hold a full DSLR without problems. You can’t really use a huge lens, and the vertical shooting, without a L-bracket on the camera is not really that possible, but still, it’s much better that shooting from hand. Especially if you have those huge cement railings, where you have no problem placing one on top, or are by a small wall, which is just so high, that you cant use a tripod, this is your best choice.
The pod

4. Use a bean bag

Another alternative to a tripod, is the bean bag. This are usually very cheap, light bags, that you can even have permanently attached to your camera. I don’t think anyone will ever stop you for using one of those, and compared to a mini tripod or the clamp, there is almost no chance that you will be able to damage something with one. They are not as stable, but for shorter exposures (1-2 seconds) they are enough. Just don’t point the camera up, as the bag will sag, and don’t forget to use a timer, so you don’t touch the camera.

5. Do the shots handheld

When everything else fails, go for handheld shots. And to have a better chance to get a nice shot while doing that, here are few tips.

Hold you camera close

Hold you camera as close as you can. Brace your arms to your body. Like this, you get much less shaking in them and so you will be able to hold longer exposures. Never take the photos with your arms stretched in front of you.

Use Auto-ISO

If you use Auto-Bracketing to get brackets for HDR, turn on Auto-ISO. What it does, it, that with the brighter exposures, instead of using longer time, the camera with use a higher ISO. Like this you can avoid a lot of the movement in the final shot.

Use fewer brackets (or only one)

Take fewer brackets, by using higher differences between shots. If you can take 5 shots with 1EV difference or 3 shots with 2EV difference, go for the second option. Less brackets are much easier to align. If the dynamic range is not that big, think about just using a single shot and just getting the information you need from the single RAW.

Go wide

You maybe heard of a rule, that when taking photos handheld, the exposure time should be at lease 1/focal length of a second. So for instance on a 35mm focal length, you should have an exposure time faster than 1/35 of a second. This is not completely exact, as everyone is different and can hold the camera better or worse, but it’s a good starting point. So when taking handheld, if you use wide angle lenses, or just zoom out as much as you can, you have a much better chance to get a good result.

Use higher ISO/bigger aperture

By using a higher ISO, you will get more noise, but that’s something you can correct. A bury photo can never be corrected. Same with bigger aperture, you will get a smaller DOF, but if you understand how DOF works, and especially if you go with a wide angle lens, it still should be enough for most situations.

Take the shot more than once

When shooting handheld, always take every photo more than once (if possible). Even with the best light, you will have some of the shots blurry. Just having multiple shot, gives you much better odds, that one of them will be usable.

And if nothing works, be ready to take the shots very quickly, and than be thrown out. But I don’t really suggest that :).

To end this post, here you have two photos, both from the Frauenkirche in Dresden, one taken from the top while using the bean bag, the second one inside, taken handheld.


And another Monday is upon us and that means another process post. For today I chosen a manually blended photo taken in Edinburg, Scotland. So let’s take a look at it.

Here you have the final photo and the original 0EV RAW file.

Early morning in Edinburgh
Early morning in Edinburgh

So what I needed to correct was that few areas were to bright, few were too dark and the whole image was too cold. So I started as always, by loading the 5 exposures into Lightroom. There are corrected the lens distortion, chromatic abberations and a little noise. Then I exported all the files into Photoshop layers.
Early morning in Edinburgh
I then did the following edits (layers numbered from bottom up):
1. -1EV exposure as the base for edits. I had better overall exposure for the sky so that’s why I chosen it as the start.
2. -2EV exposure to darken the pillars and the middle area of the sky.
3. 0EV to brighten the street and the pillars
4. +1EV to brighten the shadow areas
5. +2EV to brighten a small dark part in the photo.
6. Added contrast to the basic mid-tones
7. Added more detail using a high-pass filter
8+9. Added glow to the photo
10. Brightened the dark areas even more (I explained this step in a video I posted few days ago)
11. I wanted the pillars to have a more golden color, so using a soft light layer, I sampled a color from the back pillars and painted it onto them.
12. Changed the hue of the blue color a little toward purple.
13. Color efex pro contrast to get more local contrast and detail. I removed the effect from the sky and the highlight on the pillars.

Early morning in Edinburgh
And that’s all I did with this image. To find out more on how I edit, check out the guides and before after categories on this blog, or check out my video tutorial series here:

Cloudy shot from Budapest

posted in Budapest, Hungary on with No Comments

Yesterday I posted a photo from a very sunny day, so how about today a shot from a very cloudy day :) This one is from Budapest and I’m actually stopping this week there, as on the 20th it’s again the St. Stephens day, and there will again be huge fireworks above the city. So of course, great opportunity to get some nice photos :) If all goes well, you should see them by the end of next week.

This is a HDR from 3 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine. The photo was taken through a Hoay ND 400 filter.
Cloudy shot from Budapest