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Topaz blog articles

Around a week back I wrote two articles about photo editing for the Topaz Blog, and since I did not link to them here yet, here they are.

The first one is on cityscape editing and I focus mostly on a fireworks photo and noise. The second one is on landscape editing. They both ended up a bit long, but I think you may find both interesting :)

Cloudy reflection at the Lago di Dobbiago

Back to the Dolomites with another photo. As I mentioned, I did not have that much luck on the weather there, and only, towards the end of the trip, it was really nice. But this photo was taken earlier in the trip, so it was still very cloudy. Actually, it was raining a bit when this photo was taken.

This is at Lago di Dobbiago lake, around midday. There is this little waterfall, and you have a bridge right next to it. It was not the best place to put a tripod on. The moment I set up the shot and pressed the shutter, a car passed by. And since the bridge is wooden, that make it shake so much, I thought my camera will fall into the water. Since I was taking a long exposure, the shot was ruined.

And it was not once, it happened 4 times in a row. There were no cars around, I would press the shutter, and that moment a car would show up from nowhere. Like on purpose. I ended up taking the same photo over and over again until I got one I liked.

I took three exposures for this photo, but they did not align perfectly, so I used only one RAW here. The 12mm Laowa lens was used to get a really wide shot, but I still had to point it a bit down to get more of the water. That’s why the aspect ratio of the photo is a bit more of a square. I needed to do a perspective correction here, and that changed it. I also used a 10 stop ND Formatt Hitech filter, on a NISI holder.

Cloudy reflection at the Lago di Dobbiago

Innorel

At the end of February, I wrote about getting the Innorel RT85C tripod and the U44 ball head. At that time I mentioned that I will write a followup on how the tripod worked out and how it was to use it. And today is the day for this update.

Innorel RT85C tripod

I have very little to complain about the tripod. It’s stable and tall. The legs were a bit stiff to open in the beginning, but now I don’t notice that anymore. The rotating locks to extend the legs work with ease and are sturdy once locked. The leg locks are a bit harder to operate but still manageable.

Innorel RT85C and U44 after three months
Innorel RT85C and U44 after three months

The only issue I had, is when I try to go very low. While you can remove the middle column, I don’t like how it’s done. Firstly, you need tools to do so, as you will need to remove the ball head completely. You will not do this in the field.

Innorel RT85C and U44 after three months
Innorel RT85C and U44 after three months

Secondly, the way you attach the head back to the tripod is by using the two ends of the middle column, removing them from it and attaching them back to the tripod (better seen on the images above). This would work fine, but it does not. The bottom part nicely slits into the tripod and locks in place. The top part once screwed onto the bottom part is locked in place by the rotating lock that used to hold the middle column. So the only thing that holds it in place is friction. I don’t think this is a good solution, and I did not use it at all. I put it like this maybe twice, and the lock is already scratched on the top.

But as I mentioned, as long as I used the middle column, there were no issues with this tripod.

Innorel U44 ball head

I had similar experiences with the ball head. Overall it’s quite good. Stable, easy to use, like most other ball heads. I did run into one design issue though and one thing no longer works as it should. So what they were?

The design problem is the friction knob. This should be used to change the friction of the ball head, but it’s so easy to rotate, that you will move it accidentally all the time. And when that happens, you will lock your ball and be surprised why you can’t move it anymore. Though, once you know about it, it’s just one rotation of a knob to fix it.

Innorel RT85C and U44 after three months
Innorel RT85C and U44 after three months

The other problem happened to me with the lock mechanism on the top. There is a spring that opens the lock once you start loosening it. That spring no longer works properly on mine and will not open the lock sporadically. In those cases, I have to push on one side of it, and it will spring out. Not sure if the spring broke, or some dirt got inside, but either way it annoying.

Overall I’m mostly happy with this tripod. It works, it was cheap, it’s sturdy, it’s fine. The small issues are annoying but not a dealbreaker. Still, it’s a great value for the price.

All the bridges in Bratislava

There are five bridges crossing the Danube in Bratislava. There are the Lafranconi, SNP bridge (also known as the New Bridge), the Old bridge, Apollo bridge and the Port bridge (in the order from the closest one in today’s photo). I always like taking photos of all these bridges, and you can find many on this blog. But for a while now, I wanted to take a photo with all of them together.

This is not that easy, as they are quite far from each other, and there is a bit of a bend in the Danube. But a while ago I found a spot from which one can see all of them. Over the town of Hainburg in Austria, there is a hill with a small lookout tower. It’s quite the popular sunset spot with photographers and other people, as it’s easily accessible by car, and gives a great view of Hainburg (this one). But if you walk to the other side of the hill, you can see Bratislava in the distance.

I tried before to take a photo from that spot. But as my longest lens is only 200mm, it was just too far. So last week I borrowed a 1.4 and 2.0 extenders for the Canon 200mm lens and I tried again. This time I had 560mm to work with. Still, I could not get the city as zoomed in as I wanted. But I got close and got a photo I liked. It was a bit hazy but still good.

This is a three shot panorama, each one from a single exposure. I start with the most cropped version here, as that shows all the bridges closely, but I’m also including the full version.

All the bridges in Bratislava
All the bridges in Bratislava

And here are a few details:

All the bridges in Bratislava

The small St. Johann Church

Continuing with the photos from the Dolomites, today’s one is of the St. Johann Church (Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Ranui) in Santa Magdalena. This is a bit more typical view of this church. The area, while beautiful, is a bit limited on spots you can take photos from. That is if you want to follow the rules and only stay in the open areas. The whole field is surrounded by a fence, with one spot with a platform, from which you get this exact view.

This is a blend of three exposures. The sky was a bit bland and overcast at that moment, which did not help wit the photo. Because of that I pulled the detail out a bit more this time. Blended and finished in Photoshop.

The small St. Johann Church, Santa Magdalena, Dolomites, Italy

Sunlit reflection

How about one more photo from Lago di Braies. This one was taken a little bit after the one I posted yesterday, in a different part of the lake. There are just so many beautiful views there. It was right about lunch, so the sun was very high in the sky, creating one very sunlit reflection. In my editing, I tried to keep the feel I had. A very bright view, full of sunlight.

This is a two shot vertorama, each shot from three exposures. I used a tilt-shift lens to create the vertorama here. Blended and finished in Photoshop.

Sunlit reflection, Lago di Braies, Dolomites, Italy
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