More on Model Cars

This past week I shot another series of model cars, this time with the Cadillac (again), two Bel Airs, and an old Chevy truck. I used the same setup and lighting as I did to complete my last series and even re-shot the same picture to give myself a measuring stick to use when comparing my photos.

The setup

I stuck my Canon T3-i on a tripod and shot these photos with my 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens. I decided to try tethered shooting this time, so I had the photos downloading into Aperture 3 as I went for quick adjustments and larger previews than I could get on my camera’s little screen. I also used the Triggertrap app on my phone as a shutter release (which is really awesome and something I recommend you check out.)

The background is just our pine table with some chairs placed behind it and the light came from a chandelier hanging above with a dimmer switch on it. It may not be the most technical studio setup, but it got the job done (I feel, at least) pretty nicely.

The old and the new

You can compare the link to my old post on the Cadillac Fleetwood to the re-shoot of the same photo below.

I always have to critique myself and this time is no exception. I’m torn on the new one, as I think the color is more accurate and the lighting a bit better, but the background is not quite as interesting (the old one had different shapes and colors and some more bokeh.)

The cars

This is one of the first times I’ve dual-edited photos in Lightroom as well as Aperture 3. Aperture is great for organizing and quick adjustments, while Lightroom I’ve found to be more of a powerhouse editor, though I’m not as fond of its organization. So, I used them together for this series, which I think turned out pretty decently.

Model cars have become one of my favorite things to photograph, so expect some more coming soon in the future.

Exploring Hawaii

A couple weeks ago, my family and I took a trip to Hawaii. We stayed in Mauna Loa on the Big Island for ten days and despite frequent beach going, we also went out on a couple of adventures to different places on the island.

Native to Hawaii

Since I’m from California, seeing all of the different plants in Hawaii was pretty awesome for me. Not to mention the little green geckos which were running all over the place constantly (the little guy above just sat on a wooden post and looked at me taking his picture.)

Pololu Valley Lookout

One of our other day trips was a hike down to a black sand beach at the end of the highway at Pololu Valley Lookout. The hike was a steep one but definitely worth the views you got along the way (and the awesome beach that was waiting at the bottom.) On the way back, we stopped for lunch a little joint called Minnie’s as per the recommendation of a local pineapple stand owner (where we bought the best pineapple we’ve ever had: a white pineapple grown right in his yard.)

Lapakahi State Historical Park

Lapakahi State Historical Park is really fascinating to walk through: it’s the remains of an ancient fishing village as well as the site of some beautiful scenery. There’s a path for you to follow with locations marked on a map, with everything from ancient houses to the games they played there.

Akaka Falls State Park

One of the most beautiful day trips we took was to Akaka Falls, a massive waterfall not too far away from Hilo. The whole park is pretty amazing, as there are a lot of smaller waterfalls and creeks as well, plus some pretty huge trees. There’s a little cement path winding through it (though it was lightly raining when we went, so the stairs were pretty slippery) that you can follow to hike through the park.

Since we were staying in the drier part of the island, the sudden change in scenery from dried lava rock to grassy farmland was made for some pretty awesome landscapes on the way there.

On the way back from Akaka Falls, we also stopped at Kolekole Park, which is pretty close by. They had this really awesome bridge there over a creek, as well as a neat waterfall and coastline as well.

 

Revisiting Hawaii now that I’m older (since the last time I went was when I was a little kid,) I really enjoyed being able to explore the island more than we previously had done. Until next time Hawaii.

Outdoors with the Petzval Lens

I backed Lomography’s Petzval lens on Kickstarter back when the campaign was running in August last year and a couple months later got the lens in the mail, which I immediately took out and played around with. I’ve used it multiple times since for its artsy effects and swirly bokeh, though it struck me I’ve yet to share my images from it. So, I grabbed my Petzval and my T3-i and headed outside for some nature shots and experimenting.

Exploring the outdoors

The Petzval is known for its swirly bokeh, which – despite being used largely for portraits – I’ve found to be awesome at nature shots.

Above are the final, edited versions from my Petzval excursion, though there are a couple I’d like to offer some more insight into.

A closer look at the bokeh

I’ve mentioned the infamous Petzval bokeh a couple times above, which you can kind of get an idea for by looking at the images of the ground cover and flat leaf Italian parsley (shown both above and below).

You’ll notice the blurring around the edges of the frame and the circular, swirly pattern of the bokeh (the little blurred dots) with a relatively sharp part of the image in the center. Both of these were shot using an ƒ/2.2 aperture, which helped to make the bokeh and blur even more pronounced.

Using the Petzval

The Petzval is pretty easy to use, though there are a couple modern lens features absent from it, and understandably so. The first would be the lack of autofocus and an image stabilizer, though this is to be expected firstly for the sake of its historical accuracy and secondly due to the fact that there are no camera-to-lens electrical connections on the lens mount.

The other caveat is that photos taken with the Petzval are missing aperture information from their metadata, as the camera doesn’t receive any aperture information from the lens (the aperture is set using drop-in plates). This also makes it a little tougher to use certain modes on the camera, though a little tinkering should be able to solve those problems.

Getting close up with the Petzval

I also decided to try using the Petzval for macro, which I was surprised to see turned out pretty good for the most part despite the blur of the lens.

I used the Petzal in conjunction with my set of Hoya close-up filters (I used the 4+ filter; luckily the thread size I had for my set happened to match that of the Petzal, 52mm) and two different apertures: ƒ/2.2 and ƒ/5.6.

While I was shooting using the filter, I noticed that at smaller apertures (like the ƒ/2.2) the images became increasingly fuzzy. You can see what I mean by looking at the two images of the same plant below, the first shot at ƒ/2.2 and the second shot at ƒ/5.6, taken directly as shot in-camera.

Excusing the slight difference in exposure, the difference in clarity is really noticeable. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, since it can easily be overcome by using higher apertures. The blur can be used to create additional artsy effects as well, making for a very versatile lens and filter combo.

In fact, the lens is capable of picking up pretty great detail with the filter, as shown in the leaf below (the first straight from the camera, the second edited in Aperture 3).

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the Petzval and its performance for macro, which is one of my favorite styles of shooting. If you’d like to pick up a Petzval and try it out for yourself, you can head over to Lomography’s online shop and snag one.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies are really cool to take pictures of for two main reasons in my mind: their colors and their shapes. From reds and oranges to bright greens and deep purples, the vibrant colors of uncooked (and even sometimes cooked, if they’re super rich in color) vegetables always stand out, especially when coupled with their various shapes and textures. So, taking these into consideration, I decided to do a series of fruit and vegetable photographs focusing on the vegetables themselves, stark against a white background.

After looking at these, I decided to get extra artsy and take the camera off of the tripod and do some handheld close-ups with my macro lens (except for the broccoli, which was so large that I was able to get close like that on my tripod.)

My original idea was to do just slices of all of the fruits and vegetables, but the feasibility of that was something I didn’t really consider beforehand; namely, the fact that fruit and veggie slices don’t easily stand up on their own, and since they’re so thin, anything used to prop them up would likely be visible through them. So, I went with halves of fruits and veggies instead, which worked a little bit better.

I have to say that I actually really enjoyed taking these photos, and sometime in the future I will do another series, maybe this time with slices (or go for a more humorous route and put googly eyes on them – I sense some serious chopping going on for those photographs.) Really, the possibilities are endless.

Until next time, this is me, signing off.

Trains and Tracks

We all have them: toys we always will remember playing with from our early childhood. For myself, I remember quite a few, namely toys like Lincoln Logs, Legos, and of course the many video games made for the infamous Nintendo Gameboy (the Gameboy SP, to be specific in my case.) Another one of my favorite childhood toys was my train set, namely those from the train maker Brio (looking back on my trains now is when I finally was able to observe and pay attention to smaller details like the manufacturer; as a youngster, I had just wanted to build, tear down, and rebuild) which I still have sitting in a closet at home. I hadn’t pulled them out of their two boxes in a while, so I figured that they would make good subjects for photographing, not only from a technical perspective, but also because of the fact that I was due for a bit of nostalgia as a mid-to-late teenager. Below are my first series of photos on my childhood toys, which I thoroughly enjoyed photographing and intend to continue later on.

Why do we remember some toys so vibrantly? Maybe it’s because of the effects they have on us as children, the experiences we create with them. That’s why I think toys that I used to create things with (like trains) still have their images, sounds, and feel still lodged into the recesses of my mind. Growing up, I constantly played with my trains, and I still have all of the pieces I did when I was a lot younger. While not all picture here, there are quite a few that I remember playing with, building elaborate tracks around looping turns, over looming bridges, through mountainous jungle terrain, a modern metropolis, or the wild west. My sister also on occasion helped with construction, and we loved to run the trains around the track and imagine the little characters inside witnessing the grandeur of everything we had just created. For some reason, one piece really stuck with me, and that’s the one of the red bridge (a distant cousin, it seems, of San Francisco’s Golden Gate) pictured above.

Taking out the trains once again to photograph them, I have to say one thing – growing up doesn’t mean that I don’t need some time just to play with toys again. I don’t mean the modern definition of toys, which could be considered a game on my phone or a new lens for my camera (granted they are both fun as well, though.) I mean simple toys, those that force you to imagine, to dream, and to create. Building different layouts of train track was really fun – immensely, in fact – even at seventeen years old. It was also very interesting to notice some of the other aspects of my trains that I hadn’t noticed (or if I had, hadn’t been concerned with) earlier, ranging from all of the little minute details to something as prominent as the manufacturer, Brio.

I decided that Brio deserved a quick look-up to learn a bit more about them. I also just really wanted to look at some more trains. As it turns out, Brio’s from Sweden, and they still are very much in business. They have been since the late 1800s, according to their website, which proved to be a wealth of information about the company itself. Specializing in wooden toys, Brio doesn’t only make train tracks, but also makes a lot else as well, from toys for toddlers to the traditional wooden toys that get pulled along behind you with a string to a (very detailed) wooden stove. In my mind, however, Brio will also strike the memory of train tracks spread across the floor, which apparently also earned them a world record. Pretty cool. While perusing on their website, I also dug up the product pages of some of the pieces I have in my collection. If any are curious, they are still available for purchase, with some of my favorite including the Viaduct Bridge, the aforementioned Double Suspension Bridge, the Lifting Bridge, the Adventure Tunnel (though my version of it is green instead of grey), and the Collapsing Bridge.

For more about Brio, their website at www.brio.net is a wealth of information and where I got what I was talking about here. Also, as this is one of those formalities, all names, trademarks, etc. mentioned here are property of their respective owners.

That’s it for this initial series of photos, though there should be some more coming up soon. The next toy up on my photography roster: Lincoln Logs. Stay tuned!

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood

My Dad has a collection of small model cars that he uses to map out his plans for work (he drives cars and does stunts for a living) that he had sitting out a couple of days ago, so I decided to photograph his model 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood, the red and white beauty you can see below.

I actually had a little bit of inspiration for one of my photos, and that came from Kim Leuenberger’s photo, shown below next to the photo I took after being inspired by hers.


Take me home, to the place where I'm from by Kim Leuenberger on 500px.com

Take me home, to the place where I’m from by
Kim Leuenberger

As you can see, there are many similarities, though it wasn’t like I was trying to emulate the photo – in fact, I hadn’t realized it looked so much like it until after I had taken it, looked at it, and thought “Wow, this looks really familiar.” So I went on over to my 500px account and took a look at my favorites, and low and behold, found it to be the very first photo I had favorited on the site. So, I decided to share a little bit about the background of this photo on my blog, since my inspiration truly wasn’t mine to begin with.

I’d also like to give a really big shout out to Kim Leuenberger (the photographer of the original photo that inspired mine) for the awesome shot. A quick summary about Kim can be found on her website at http://kimleuenberger.com/about, where she also has a huge gallery of other photos of miniature objects she’s taken. While I wasn’t able to find out too much about her aside from what was on her website, Kim Leuenberger says of herself that she is “hungry to discover more of the world and be a real explorer,” which I feel is a great way to go through life (and results in a number of interesting photos, as well.)

I really enjoyed taking some macro shots of miniatures, and I’m going to have to look into trying to take some more of different model objects sometime in the near future. Until next time, this is me, signing off.

Note: For more about Kim Leuenberger, check out her website at www.kimleuenberger.com.