Thursday, September 29, 2011

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule - Canon 1D4, 70-200 II + 1.4x TC @ 280mm, f/5.6, 1/50s, ISO 200
Wow, its been a long time since I posted an Avian image, and an even longer time since I went out to photograph them. I photographed this Purple Gallinule in the Everglades in Florida back in February of this year.  I just love the beautiful colors of this bird and this little guy was very skittish, staying still for only a moment before taking off again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Color

Bower Ponds Fall Color - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, ~f/8, 1/180s, ISO 160
I had the chance (a very small one) to do some fall color shooting last week.  Unfortunately, timing wise, I was probably still about a week or two early but still, the colors were nice.

Bower Ponds Fall Color - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/8, (varying shutter speeds), ISO 160

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tioga Lake

Tioga Lake Thaw - Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/8, 1/160s, ISO 100
I took this image this past 4th of July weekend.  Due to the heavy snowfall from last winter, it look a little longer for Tioga Lake to fully thaw and this was taken as it was in the last stages of the thaw.  Whats amazing is that when we drove past the area again in a couple of days, the lake had fully thawed.

Stuck - Leica M9, 50 Summicron, ~f/2.8, 1/4000s, ISO 160
A couple of kayakers decided to risk getting stuck and we out on the lake.  One of them got stuck and it took him a few minutes to break free.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Sashtiabdhapoorthi Materials - Leica M9, 50 Noct, f/0.95, 1/90s, ISO 640
Sashtiabdhapoorthi is the Sanskrit name for a ceremony performed on the 60th birthday.  It is significant in the Hindu culture because the Tamil calendar (used in both north and south India) is based on a 60 year cycle (interestingly, the 60 year cycle also shows up in the Chinese calendar).  Due to this 60 year cycle, the 60th birthday is considered something of a rebirth.

untitled - Leica M9, 21 Summilux, f/1.4, 1/25s, ISO 400
The number of ceremonies performed of course tends to vary and can go anywhere from a couple of hours to filling an entire day.  It is typically the job of the children to organize the Sashtiabdhapoorthi of their parents (its done for both the mother and the father).

untitled - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/1.4, 1/30s, ISO 200
This past Wednesday was my father's 60th birthday on the Tamil calendar (its today on the Gregorian calendar) and so we celebrated this special occasion.  In addition to aunts and uncles, many of my parents' closest friends also came out to join us even though it was on a weekday and started at 7:30 AM.

Aarthi - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, ~f/2.8, 1/45s, ISO 640
My mom had been planning the day for the last couple of months and the preparation and work involved would be rivaled only by a wedding.  We cleared out all the furniture in both family rooms to have enough room to fit all the materials for the ceremonies as well as the guests.

Sashtiabdhapoorthi - Leica M9, 21 'lux, f/1.4, 1/30s, ISO 200
One of the fascinating things about the Sashtiabdhapoorthi is that the couple will typically re-do a portion of their wedding rituals (kind of like a renewal of vows), so even though its my dad's Sashtiabdhapoorthi, my mom plays pretty major role in it as well.

Abhishekam -Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/11, 1/125s, ISO 160
Homam - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/1.4, 1/30s, ISO 200
There are many different kinds of prayers and ceremonies in Hindu tradition.  One of the most common is the Homam, which involves making offerings into fire (and is part of a set of vedic rituals involving fire).  The fire is always held in a square shaped assembly which my father and I assembled out of bricks, the fireplace was a convenient and safe location. 

Homam - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/1.4, 1/60s, ISO 500
There were many different homams that were performed that day, each of which has specific purposes.  Some were performed only by the main priest and my dad and others included my mom.  What I didn't discover until I did some reading later on was that homa are performed in Japanese Buddhism as well.  Near the end, they ask for blessings from their elders and confer upon us their blessings.

Blessings - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/1.4, 1/30s, ISO 400
Of course, I don't know of any celebration in any culture that doesn't involve food and this case is no different.  The big meal is done last after all the religious functions have been completed.

Yum - Leica M9, 35 'lux II, f/5.6, 1/45s, ISO 1250
I was very happy to see my parents' house filled with family and their closest friends.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Quiet Read and a Pleasant Interruption

A Quiet Read - M9, 50 f/0.95 Noctilux, f/0.95, 1/90s, ISO 160
I am spending the week with family in something of a 'family reunion'.  In addition to my parents, sister and grandmother I also have both aunts and uncles on my mother's side as well as 2 pairs of aunts and uncles on my father's side coming; not a common occurrence.

Pleasant Interruption - M9, 50 f/0.95 Noctilux, f/0.95, 1/60s, ISO 320
I brought mainly my M9 kit comprising of very fast 21mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses.  The speed of the lenses is nice and the unobtrusiveness of the kit is great.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

White Ginger Dreams

White Ginger Dreams - Leica M9, 50 f/0.95 Noctilux, f/0.95, 1/1000s, ISO 160.
I don't do a lot of floral photography but I find that when I do these days I prefer to have an abstract feel to them, so I usually use a very large aperture.  I am also finding B&W florals to be a lot of fun as converting to B&W gives me a lot of tonal control.  In this image, but going to B&W I could really make the ginger flower stand out even though this was taken around 5:30 pm in the shade with just natural light.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The River Rushes

The River Rushes - Leica M9, 28 Elmarit ASPH, ~f/22, 1.5s, ISO 160
Well actually its more a stream, but "river rushes" sounds better.  I made this image earlier this summer when rushing water all over the Sierras was an easy sight to catch (due to the record snowfall this past winter).
The River Rushes (B&W) - Canon 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/11, 2s, ISO 100
I ended up processing two different versions of this image, made with two different cameras.  I really liked the colors in the color one at the top (especially the color in the foliage) but I liked the vertical composition and tones of the B&W one above as well.  If you recall I posted an early version of this image back this summer when talking about using the Leica M9.  I chose to make the Canon image B&W because I just couldn't the colors to look right.

Its interesting, the sRGB JPG version doesn't do the colors justice, its much nicer in print as it is when viewing the original ProPhotoRGB file on my wide gamut display.

So which do you prefer the vertical B&W or the horizontal color image?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hidden Leopard

Hidden Leopard - 1Ds3, 500, f/6.3, 1/500s, ISO 320

For some reason, at this very moment I know several people in Africa.  Some are there because they are running workshops (you guys know who you are and yes I'm very jealous) and others just in vacation.  So hearing of people adventures, I thought back to my trip earlier this year and wanted to work on an image from that trip.  I remember being very excited at every Leopard encounter we had, even the ones where the Leopard didn't come down from the tree.  This was one of those encounters.  I think we were forced to eventually give up because of the time of day and crowds.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bison Grazing Under the Tetons

Bison Grazing Under the Tetons - Canon 1D4, 70-200 @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 100, 6 frame stitch
The Grand Tetons National Park is such  beautiful place that its difficult to make a bad image.  One of my favorite things about the park is seeing the wildlife graze in the plains below the rapidly rising Teton range.

Above is the full panorama shown with Zoomify so you can zoom right in on the Bison.

Friday, September 09, 2011

First Leica Service Experience

Shadows on Mesh - Leica M9, 35 Summilux ASPH II, ~f/4, 1/500s, ISO 160
I just completed my first experience with Leica USA service.  I had to send in my M9, 21 Summilux and the brand new 50 Summilux for focus adjustment.  The focus was off only by a smidge, but it was noticeable enough to me to require service.  Given the completely mechanical nature of the rangefinder focusing system, its not a surprise that adjustments are required for perfect accuracy.  So off it went, they said they would have all my stuff back to me by a certain date and sure enough everything arrived yesterday.  Each item had a test certificate showing the technician and a secondary inspector and everything was packaged up extremely well.  Oh, and both lenses are now superbly accurate, so I'm very happy.

As a bonus, my 35mm Summilux ASPH II arrived yesterday at the same time so it was like Christmas came early.  I've only had a chance to do a handful of around the house shooting with the lens but from what I see this is the finest 35mm lens I've ever used from any manufacturer.  The sharpness and contrast wide open is superb and the performance across the frame as you stop down is equally superb.  Can't wait to do some actual photography with this gem.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Two is Better Than One

Two is Better Than One - Canon 1Ds3, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II @ 70mm, f/5, 1/60s, ISO 100
What could be better than having a beautiful rainbow pop up after an afternoon of dreary overcast clouds and rain?  Two rainbows!  I made this image on the first day of my trip to the Grand Tetons this past June.  As I crossed into Wyoming from Idaho the weather got progressively gloomier and things were looking like a bust for the evening.  Fortunately for a few moments that evening, we did get some rainbow and interesting light.  The lesson to be learned is to go out and shoot even if things look gloomy, because sometimes it can change, even if its for a moment.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Bosque Sunrise

Bosque Sunrise - Canon 1Ds3, ZE 21, f/5.6, ISO 200, fusion of 5 exposures
I made this image almost as soon as we got to the "Flight Deck" on the third day of my trip to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge last winter.  I wasn't planning on going to Bosque this year but am now entertaining the thought.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Seattle Skyline 130mp Panorama

I made this 10 frame panorama of the Seattle Skyline last summer. I finished stitching it together but didn't do anything with it since the aspect ratio was so wide and one needs to see the full resolution version to appreciate it. It occurred to me today that I could use Zoomify to show it and so here we are. Be sure to zoom right in, there should be sufficient detail even though I set the JPEG compression fairly high to keep the size reasonable.

Technical: Canon 1Ds3, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II @ 200mm, f/5, 2s, ISO 100. 10 frame stitch in Photoshop CS5.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Dawn of a New Day

Dawn of a New Day over Emerald Bay - 5D2, 24 TS-E II, f/22, 2s, ISO 100
I really love it when a concept image I have in my mind ends up coming together.  I saw this pull out overlooking Emerald Bay when I was in the Tahoe area back in June when returning from my trip to the Grand Tetons.  I had spent that morning shooting Eagle Falls but afterwards when I drove past this pull out I knew exactly the kind of image I wanted to make in the few seconds just after the sun would rise. 

So with that in mind I set out early one morning in late July, getting to the spot around 5:30.  I quickly found the composition I wanted and knew that I would need heavy filtration to get what I was after.  In the end, the sun came up exactly where I was expecting to and ended up making the image I wanted. 

A natural question that comes up is whether the reds and purples in the sky are 'real' or whether they were achieved through digital manipulation.  The answer is no in both cases.  These colors are the result of me using a strong reverse grad filter stacked with a strong soft grad filter with the camera set to daylight white balance.  If I had shot film this is close to what I would have gotten.   I did add a tinted a virtual grad filter in Lightroom in post to balance out the lake however.