Nov 142012

I wish I could say I’ve named this photo after a great experience in Ristorante Barchetta, but I didn’t hop off the ferry in this village. It looks like a nice spot for a bite though, or an afternoon beer. From the ferry I saw this lady in the green dress on her phone, while the rest of the world rushed by her. I wondered if it was an important call or if she was just having a a chat. What do you think?

Women in a green dress talking on cell phone on street in front of restaurant with green mountains behind on Lake Como, Italy

Oct 172012

Today’s photo is another shot from Lake Como with a sailboat dwarfed by the surrounding mountains that rise, almost vertically, from the water’s surface. Can’t write much tonight as I need to get packing. I’m off to the Bahamas tomorrow for a meeting then taking a few days off in Florida. Don’t have a big enough bag to take all my camera gear at the moment so have some tricky decisions to make.

Sailboat dwarfed by the surrounding mountains that rise, almost vertically, from the water's surface on Lake Como, Italy.

Oct 072012

Lake Como is a really interesting place and I wish I’d been able to spend more time there. The lake is surrounded by towering mountains rising directly from the water’s surface. Villages are, therefore terraced up the slopes. I thought this one was particularly interesting. There was a dock at water level, but the village didn’t seem to start until quite high up the hill.

Picturesque village with white houses and orange roofs terraced up the slopes of towering mountains as viewed from Lake Como, Italy


Sep 192012

Today’s Photo: Lake Como

A visit to Lake Como was recommended to me by my uncle. I really knew nothing about the place but had faith that the two hour drive would be worth it. The plan was to hop on the ferry for a low cost “cruise” up the lake followed by lunch and a trip back. I thought it could provide a good opportunity to ratchet up a few photos.

As it turns out, Lake Como is beautiful. Mountains plunged from the blue sky into the deep water. Boats of all shapes and size plied the waters around us as the ferry chugged its way up the lake, from village port to village port. I definitely took a lot of pictures. I’m not sure how usable a lot of them are as a moving ferry doesn’t make for an ideal base. It was really a sort of spray and pray situation. I just kept taking photos in the hope I’d get a few I could keep. I think I’m happy with today’s photo. But, I do have to question whether it would make the cut if I’d gotten to go down to Portofino and the Cinque Terre where I had two days of shooting pretty well planned out!

The Technical Bits

Elia Locardi, over at Blame the Monkey, does this for each of his photos so I’ve decided to give it a try.

Camera: Canon 5d Mk II
Lens: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
ISO: 200
Exposure: 1/320, 1/1250, and 1/80 at f/7.1

Taking the Photo: This is one of the few photos I took on Lake Como that I remember putting a bit of thought into. I wanted to use as big a zoom as possible to compress the image and make the mountains loom over the village and the boats in the foreground. I made a quick switch from the 24-70mm lens I was using to the 70-300mm. I couldn’t zoom my focal length up as much as I wanted to, but the effect is still pretty satisfying. If you’ve read my HDR tutorial you’ll know that I usually keep my ISO down at 100 to minimize noise as the HDR processing emphasizes noise dramatically. But, as I was shooting handheld (no point in using a tripod on a moving ferry) and had a moving subject I wanted to freeze so I bumped the ISO up a touch.

Processing: It was a hazy day, and the camera emphasized this fact, so I wound up with a very dull, flat set of images. I processed them in Photomatix as usual and then did a lot of work adjusting the contrast in Photoshop to try to breathe a bit of life back into it. I used layers to selectively adjust the contrast, and saturation of different parts of the image. Then I realised that the mountains had come out very blue. I probably should have used a polarizer on such a hazy day. So, I made myself a digital, graduated warming filter with Photoshop to warm up the mountains a bit. Then, I used Topaz Adjust to boost the detail a bit. The higher than usual ISO and processing work resulted in quite a lot of noise in the sky, ocean and side of the sailboat. I created a duplicate layer of the image and selectively de-noised the problem areas before sharpening the foreground.

Software: Photomatix, Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, Noiseware Pro

Sailboats on Lake Como in Italy with mountains rising from the deep water to the blue sky.