Europe – Holland/Scotland/Corsica

exhibition, landscapes, location

It seems I have been shooting landscapes for ages, without really knowing what I looked for. I think now I have got a better understanding of the kind of landscapes I like, the kind of things I want to show. In my latest exhibit, next to a lot of sensual female portraits, I showed this triptych of landscape images:

Europe – Holland/Scotland/Corsica

 

I feel like in my beauty portraits, I can better express volume and light in black and white photography, hence the choice for converting them. In my landscape book, there are only three images in colour. The above images are the result of both family travels and solitary motorcycle travels, and my love for photography. Lucky me, to be able to do the things I love doing.

 

come again soon,

best,

Ludwig

Two days … building the exhibit

exhibition, Personal Pictures

two days to the exhibit in my own space.

 

you are all very welcome of course:

A little exciting it is.

from the 4500 invitations I received from my print shop (www.degrotearend.be) about 3500 have been dropped into local mailboxes in Ronse.

My book ‘LANDSCAPES – and other things that jump into my camera’ arrived yesterday. It smells fresh ink, but it looks great. I’m very pleased with the results and the selection of images I’ve made. The book ‘WOMEN’ I had from the previous exhibit stays unchanged

Drinks have been bought, but I have no idea how many people I should expect. I heard some rumours about people who were saying they would come, I have a Facebook event that some people confirmed on, but will it be 50-100-200?

The weather announces great, 21°C – 23°C is much more than we could expect here in Belgium around half October. I feel lucky!

The exhibit space is ready, the frames have been hung (without prints for now, I work with front-open frames that contain a support for the prints within. I will hang the mounted prints in the frames today. That means … all but one … Koert (my printer – laminator – finisher) called me last Friday that the largest print for the exhibit had suffered a fault during the mounting process (mount on Dibond). It is a landscape print of 50x150cm. So he had to order a new Dibond board to redo the print this week. No news till now. … keep the fingers crossed. By the way, I’m very pleased by his work! (www.fift.be)

Lighting has been fitted as well, called my brother in law (who is an electrician) for some help, he offered me a couple of up-lighters and smaller spots to add to the existing light in the room.

things that need to be done:

finish the digital presentation, set up a monitor for viewing, hang the prints, … relax a bit 😉

some impressions of the space preparations

Sirui mini tripod – my thoughts + a color image from Scotland, and a black and white from Corsica.

landscapes, photo gear

Hi there, for a change a gear review post.

For landscape work I have been a pleased owner of a Berlebach report tripod for many years now. I have had a little issue with it last year, which has been solved amazingly well by the Berlebach company, see my post about it here: http://www.ludwigdesmet.com/2016/09/19/thumbs-up-for-excellent-customer-service-berlebach/

I have taken this tripod with me on my motorbike on many occasions, mostly when giving classes to adults, but it is not very practical because the tripod is big. When mounted it extends beyond the two big panniers I have on my large bike! (BMW R1200GS).

So I have been looking for a smaller tripod for last summer’s trip to Scotland, and for lighter travelling to Corsica weeks after that. I bought the Sirui T-005X with C-10S ballhead, from the T05X Series Traveler Ultralight

It is a lightweight, very compact package, weighs 0.8 kgs and has a maximum height of 137cm and a packing size of 33 cm. This makes it ideal for my motorcycle travels or when you are traveling light in any other way.

How did it fare?

I found it very well performing in quiet weather conditions. The image below is a behind the scene’s shot on a trip out, rain pouring down all day, overcast and not much light, so a tripod was mandatory for I had pretty long shutter times. 0,6s at f11 and ISO100 for the below image.

Image taken in Strontian, Ariundle, Scotland.

as you can see the tripod legs have several spread angle’s, which comes in handy on uneven terrain. The feet are very tiny at approximately 18mm diameter, so some care on where to put them is to be taken. Otherwise, the tripod gave me a perfectly sharp image.

When walking with the camera, the ball head clearly is too weak for a big DSLR (Canon 5Ds) even with a moderately light lens on it. (Canons 17-40 mm f4L, with a weight of 475g) The camera will start heading down soon, no matter how tight you fasten the head knob.

Otherwise, no complaints here.

In Corsica I stumbled upon a deserted hotel, that inspired me to do some long exposure shots. The weather was sunny with clouds, and a rather strong wind, with gusts up to 80km/h (45-50 miles), the building was partly surrounded by green area, with scattered trees. Still I chose to remove the center column of the tripod, for increased stability. (the center column only supported in a single point is the least stable element in all tripods) The removal of the center column is really easy, and the ballhead then screws directly on the tripod base, resulting a much stabler unit. I have no behind the scenes image of this setup so I’ll grap a marketing image from Siriu:

I still had the tripod set up with the legs fully extended in most images, and made perfectly sharp images with shutter speeds over 2 minutes: 121s f13 ISO125 and detail below. I have no images that show camera movements, so I think this is very good proof of the stability of this setup.

 

The downsides:

I find the leg opening/closing grips rather soft, and some seem to show some wear already, curious to know how long they will last. Also the camera plate is very small, this is clearly not aimed at DSLR users, but more towards the high end compact, light system camera’s. Fortunately the system is Arca Swiss compatible, so I can use my Berlebach dovetail type plates in stead. The ball head, although said to hold 4kgs, will certainly not hold its position when on the move. 4 leg segments are a bit long to extend, especially compared to my Berlebach, that has only two segments.

The pro’s:

Very light, very compact, budget friendly, stable within limits, easy to convert to ‘without center column’, then it is even more stable. Not expensive, comes with a carrying bag.

Verdict.

I am very pleased with this little tripod, it fits my motorcycle panniers, it is very light, it extends high enough for my landscape needs and it is stable in light windy weather. I’m a bit afraid that heavy conditions will not be good friends with this tripod, but If you are looking for an easy to carry companion for night shots or occasional landscape work, I can recommend! And at a very fair price of € 109, it won’t break the bank!

 

Ludwig

 

 

Post production explained

landscapes, Lightroom, Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks

Another before and after short explanation.

A lot of people have liked this image on facebook, and this inspired me to repeat once again the importance of good development of your images.

Hallerbos before and after

What happened in post production? For those familiar to Lightroom, here we go: (to those not familiar to Lightroom – I enhanced the image 😉 )

color temperature slightly warmer, tint unchanged

added a +0,18 stops exposure +40 contrast +97 highlights (to accentuate the sun ray’s/highlights)

HSL panel:

Added +8 in purple Hue settings

Added +35 and +23 in respectively Blue and Purple saturation

Added +25 in Blue luminance

Local adjustments:

Added 2 gradient filters:

1 to darken the tree trunks from top: exposure -0,94 – highlights +63 – shadows +24

1 to darken foreground from bottom: exposure -0,94 – highlights +62

Added 1 radial filter:

position: central, horizontally shaped, where I wanted the sun rays to be accentuated:

settings: exposure +0,99 – highlights +63 – shadows -71 – clarity +33 –  sharpness +20 (inverted mask to work on the central area, not on the outside area)

ludwigdesmet_hallerbos-0573

I sincerely hope this will inspire you to work a little on your images too. You don’t need Lightroom to enhance them, a lot of these things can be done in other RAW development applications too, some coming for free with your digital camera.

see you soon,
ludwig

Beautiful Tuscany

landscapes, people, Personal Pictures

Well, vacation is long over, and almost forgotten (almost)

Luckily someone invented photography a couple of hundred years ago.

I don’t want to write a lot of words on this post, only this. The evening we wanted to pack the car for our trip to Italy (2 and a half weeks Tuscany), it broke down.

So no large wagon with rooftop luggage trunk, but only a small Toyota Yaris. This meant a total review of the luggage, which meant I had to leave half of my photo equipment at home. No tripod, that was the biggest drawback for me. But anyway, no other solution possible, and a big challenge for taking landscape images. Normally you want to use closed apertures, meaning long shutter speeds. Well, not possible this time. I had to crank up ISO settings from time to time, which you normally do not for landscape work. To give you an idea, first image: ISO 160 – 17mm – f11 – 1/8th of a second. Last image, ISO 800 – 50mm – f3.2 – 1/25th.

Hope you like the images, I could’n leave the dog out, having its daily portion of ‘gelato’ like everyone else.

happy viewing,

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1637

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1244

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1311

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1553

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1671

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1841

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1867

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1868

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1877

Charlemagne-art_Italy-1805

thank you for looking!

shooting the Verdon with the Canon Powershot S95

landscapes, Personal Pictures, photo gear

Hello there,

I was on a men-only weekend with my oldest son a couple of weeks ago.

We had a lot of fun together, rafting, mountain hiking, drinking beer (at least me), etc. …

I didn’t want to focus on photography that weekend, because of the father and son thing so I only took my compact camera with me. The Canon Powershot S95.

I have used it on weekends out before, but never in a landscape environment. see my post Barcelona Highlights

It is a good compact, but probably not the best you can get.

I don’t want to go into details about this, just put the pros and cons next to each other, compared to my reflex camera.

Compared to the Canon 5D markII and some proper lenses, these are the most relevant cons:

the lens lacks sharpness in the entire zoom range

the sensor has a much smaller dynamic range (whites blowing out or blacks going dead)

it has a much slower reaction time (it’s not a reflex, so there’s a short time lag between pressing the shutter and the picture taken.

it has slower and not so performant AutoFocus (although the AF from the 5D mark II is not top either)

The colors tend to get over-saturated.

these are the pros:

its lightweight compared to any reflex camera 195g vs. 850g without lens for the 5D II

it fits in almost any pocket

it is almost stealth-like compared to a reflex camera, so it doesn’t bother people when it appears (not so important for landscape, but important for street photography)

its silent (except maybe from the lens ring clicks, which are quite noisy)

A pro for this compact, vs some other compacts:

it has all exposure modes, including full manual (P, AV, TV, M), so you can play with the settings as you would with a reflex camera, you can even choose to set the focus manually.

Enough talking, let me show you some pictures. For your info, I have done quite some editing in Lightroom. You won’t notice the lack of sharpness here, I worked a lot on the tonal range in the images, etcetera.

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1601

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1588

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1630

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1659

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1684

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1705

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1709

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-1715

charlemagne-art-gorgesduverdon-pano

The last image is a photoshop stitched image from 6 shots.

So is it a worthy camera, yes sure it absolutely is a very good travel companion if you don’t wish to focus on photography, but it takes some more time to get good pictures out of it, and you’ll never be able to get really pro-quality pictures out of it.

After all I’m not really a material geek. Sure I love my camera and lenses, but for me a lot of photography is in the eye of the photographer. I’m sure a good photographer can make good pictures with a compact, a bad photographer will not manage taking good pictures with pro gear. I enjoyed being with my son, taking a picture from time to time for the memories, and that is a different mindset than going on a photography trip.

take care, and I hope you come again soon.

Ludwig

Winter in Belgium

landscapes, Personal Pictures

Hi all,

we are not so used to having cold winter in Belgium. We usually have a moderate climate, influenced by the warm gulf stream waters, coming from middle-America.

But, some two weeks ago, a package of snow arrived, about 5 inches thick, some extra snow fell a couple of days later, and we had cold winter temperatures, with -15°C as a minimum.

Enjoy the pictures I took in the morning, two days ago. I’m not so fond of the Belgian landscape in general, but I enjoyed the marvels of snow and ice, and the misty morning added to it’s magic.

No more words, just images!

charlemagne-art-winter-2841 charlemagne-art-winter-2845 charlemagne-art-winter-2846 charlemagne-art-winter-2912 charlemagne-art-winter-2929 charlemagne-art-winter-2935 charlemagne-art-winter-2940 charlemagne-art-winter-2943 charlemagne-art-winter-2955 charlemagne-art-winter-2961 charlemagne-art-winter-2970 charlemagne-art-winter-2974

 

see you soon, I have two more beauty shoots to post!

Ch.

(from Charlemagne – my other name)

North Sea

landscapes, Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks, Tips and Tricks

Hi,
long time since I posted some new images. I have been busy preparing the two exhibitions and that is now over, with the last exhibition opening this saturday evening. You are still very welcome to come visit the exhibition. (wednesday, saturday and sunday from 14:00 h till 18:00 h. in ‘de Oude Brouwerij’ Ronse.)

I have been to the North sea on april 22nd, and I wanted to show you some images I brought with me. I have further experimented with the ND Grey filters, I used them before in Calais/Cap-Griz-Nez too.
Here I used only the ND 1000 filter, which blocks about 8 stops of light, and let’s pass only 1/1000th of the light. This allows for long exposure times in plain daylight.

The technique is quite simple: you setup your tripod (best a good sturdy one, because when the sea surface is coming over the breakwater, you get some nasty winds blowing you almost out of your clothes.) and make your best composition possible. Verify your normal exposure. Now without further touching your camera, switch to manual focus if not already done, screw on your ND filter and calculate your new exposure time. In my situation, I had to lengthen the exposer time x1000. E.g. 1/100 sec without filter became 10 seconds with filter.
Then wait for the sea tide to come up. Get cold, try to protect your camera from waves splattering on the rocks, almost get blown over, get wet feet, get a rain shower on your head, and then decide you tried your best and try to find some shelter.

All images taken with 17-40 mm on Canon 5D mark II, exposure times of about 50-60 seconds. Aperture f1/16 up to f1/22. The first shot is composed out of 4 exposures, I converted the images to BW in Lightroom, then added a blue’isch color cast in Photoshop.

Hope you liked them, click for bigger version!

ludwig

Côte d’Opale

landscapes, Personal Pictures

Some pictures I took on our family trip to Calais – Cap Griz Nez and Cap Blanc Nez.
The use of an ND filter and long exposures make for foamy sea-surface. I loved experimenting with it an will surely go back there for some more of these. All three with the Canon 17-40 mm on 5D MarkII.
Don’t forget to click them to see a bigger version.

Remember, all of my images are available for sales. they are perfect for your modern home decoration. 😉

Ludwig