Light painting Toyota Tacoma

First attempt at light painting

This didn't start out as a light painting shoot. My friend Andrew wanted to get some long exposure shots of planes taking off so we ventured down to the airport near sunset. Before the sun went down, we took a few shots at Iona Beach.

Iona Beach Sunset

The beach wasn't particularly interesting, so as the sun was going down I decided to try out the variable ND filter I purchased.  First time I have ever used an ND filters, but it was a day of firsts so why not.  Here are a couple of shots, looks like it could be fun and the effect can't be duplicated any other way.

Iona Beach Sunset long exposure with ND filter

Iona Beach Sunset long exposure with ND filter

And here is Andrew setting up for a sunset shot.

Iona Beach Sunset Andrew

The sun finally set so we found a spot where we could see the runway and decided to shoot planes on the way in and out of the airport.  There were not a lot of flights and we couldn't get a decent photo.  Out of the photos I took, this was the best one and it is average at best.

Vancouver airport airplane light trails

We quickly got bored, and decided to try some light painting.  Started with waving the flashlights around.

Light painting attempt

Then we noticed the back hoe, so we decided to try some light painting on that.  The idea was to trace the bucket and tracks with brighter light and fill in the rest.  For a first attempt, somewhat successful.

Light painting attempt back hoe

And better after we stumbled on some better camera settings.

Light painting attempt back hoe 2

Found a bulldozer nearby as well.

Light painting attempt dozer

And finally my truck before we wrapped up for the night.

Light painting Toyota Tacoma

Finally, I asked Andrew to paint on some horns, he must of thought I said "propeller".  They sound so similar I can see where he got mixed up.

Light painting Toyota Tacoma Andrew horns

So I had to try it myself

Light painting Toyota Tacoma Mike horns

Amsterdam Dec 2011 night long exposure hdr

A Day in Amsterdam

Back in December 2011, I had to travel to the UK on business. I took the opportunity to route my flight through Amsterdam instead of London and I had to pleasure of spending an afternoon in this great European city. I'm finally getting around to posting some of the photos I took during my short stay. I definitely need to go back and spend more time in this city, it was a lot of fun.

Most of the photos here were shot while on a photo tour with Photo Tours of Amsterdam.  I booked this tour after reading positive reviews on Trip Advisor.   Things didn't start well as my flight was delayed.  Rather than arriving at 8:00am which would have given me plenty of time to get to my hotel then meet my guide at the 1:30pm start time, my flight arrived at 12:30pm.  I rushed to the hotel, dropped off my things at the front desk and didn't even check in.  I just grabbed my camera and tripod and jumped in a taxi to head to the meeting spot.   There, I met Jonathan who turned out to be a fellow Canadian currently living in the Netherlands and discovered I was the only one on the tour that day.  This allowed Jonathan and I to just explore the city and go where wherever we wanted to go.   Jonathan was a good photographer, and also knew a lot about the city.   I didn't get a lot of good photographs during the day, it was a gloomy and flat winter day.  Things were better at night, and I'm happy I brought my tripod along for some shooting.  Overall, Jonathan spent more time than he needed to with me and was a great guide.  I learned a lot about the city and brushed up on my skills as well.  I would definitely book another tour with this company if I'm in one of the cities where they offer tours.

Some of the photos from that day, it was raining on and off and mostly overcast skies.  I love European cites, there is so much more history and culture compared to things in North America.  It's hard not to appreciate the architecture on display everywhere.  This is one of the markets many markets we found just walking around.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 market

A three shot HDR, not my best work but I love the buildings here.  Also, Amsterdam has a lot of pubs :)

Amsterdam Dec 2011 pub hdr

I didn't process many in black and white, but I likely will as scenes like this lend themselves well to such processing.  The canals in Amsterdam are fantastic, and are the reason why it's sometimes called Venice of the North.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 canal black and white

I love graffiti, and there was plenty of it in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 5

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 3

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 2

Amsterdam Dec 2011 graffiti 1

No idea what this is, but it was an interesting courtyard.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 courtyard

The Hermitage.  I wish I had time to visit.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 hermitage

Throughout the city you will find a lot of houseboats in the canals.  Some are beautiful, or at least interesting.  Others are complete trash heaps and detract from an otherwise beautiful city.  In another life, I would like to live on the water in one of these boats.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 boat

Jonathan told me what these little critters were, but for the life of me I can't remember.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bike

Youth Hostel, I got a few shots of this, I'm sure it looks great in the spring when the vines are covered in leaves.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 hostel

Some guys saw me taking photos and started goofing around.  The people I met in Amsterdam were friendly and helpful.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 clowning around

Dutch cat, seems content in his bed.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 dutch cat

So many of the buildings have interesting details like this.  They just don't build them like they used to.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 building detail

Jonathan showed me a good spot to practice my panning technique.  There is certainly no shortage of subjects zipping by and you don't need to wait long to see some interesting characters.

panning 4

Amsterdam Dec 2011 panning 3

The Dutch carry everything on their bikes.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 panning 2

Amsterdam Dec 2011 panning 1

Amsterdam is know for diamonds, but I didn't bring any back for my wife on this trip.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 diamonds

The Theater.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 cool theatre

I had no idea there were going to be this many bikes in the city.  They are literally everywhere, of all shapes and sizes, and locked to any stationary object available.  I saw entire families on one bike, or people hauling a substantial amount of goods using special bikes.  There are multi-level bike parking garages which hold thousands of bikes.  It really is great to see, I'm sure it cuts down on the number of cars on the road.  Oh, and there is a hose in this photo too.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 horse and carriage

The only thing there may be more of than bikes is bongs.  Imagine if every coffee shop in Vancouver were a bong store, then double it :)  I also found out that you don't go to a coffee shop to get coffee, they sell weed.  If you want coffee, go to a cafe.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bongs

This liquor store had the coolest bottles I have ever seen, sadly it wasn't open when I was there.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bottles 3

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bottles 1

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bottles 2

More bikes, bikes, bikes.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 Bikes

The train station.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 main train station

Interesting bridge detail.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bridge detail

The Magere Brug, or "Skinny Bridge".  Well lit at night, and one of the more famous bridges in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 bridge detail (magere berg)

None of the buildings have elevators, so they set up these contraptions on the outside to move things in and out.  Also, you can see big hooks at the top of the buildings in some of the photos.  These were used to attach pulleys to winch stuff up to the higher levels.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 elevator

Electric car charging station.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 electric car plug in

The city looks great at night.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 long exposure

Amsterdam Dec 2011 night long exposure hdr

Amsterdam Dec 2011 canal hdr

This is on the edge of the Red Light District.  Down that alley, you can see red lights on the side of the building marking windows where guys can take their pick of women.  It's actually a very trendy area, with a lot of tourists visiting pubs, restaurants, or doing some shopping . The alleys are right in the middle of everything, and everything seems to be clean and safe.  As you can imagine, they don't take kindly to tourists taking photos in front of said windows.  I didn't press my luck by trying it.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 red light district

Some long exposure fun while Jonathan kept watch on the traffic.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 night long exposure

One of my last, and one of my favorite, photos from the day.  I set up on a tiny island in the middle of an intersection.  I had a view of a tram coming right at me, and veering off to the right.  This was my first attempt, and the best of the bunch, I actually thought the tram would hit my camera, but it turned out well.

Amsterdam Dec 2011 long exposure train


Full Moon at 400mm

Almost a full moon

A friend of mine (Maggie) told me about the December 10th lunar eclipse.  No idea how I missed the fact that this is happening, very unlike my geek self.  We had a clear sky tonight, and I still have the monster 400mm f/2.8 lens I borrowed for the Bald Eagle shoot so I decided to take a few practice shots.  No real point posting more than one photo, the moon doesn't do much different between shots.  The lens, as expected, delivered great results on my D90.

Full Moon at 400mm

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Bald Eagle Photography in Brackendale

I took a trip with my friend Andrew to Brackendale to find some Bald Eagles.  The eagles were not hard to find, but certainly not easy to photograph.  Most of the time they were quite far away, but occasionally they would fly by a little closer.  The eagles gather here to eat Coho Salmon that have died after spawning.  I guess eagles are lazy, and prefer to let dinner float by rather than waste energy catching it.

I borrowed a huge 400mm f/2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter from my boss, which was a huge help and allowed to me to get some good shots.  I wouldn't say any of the shots from the day were excellent, there was heavy cloud cover and relatively low light which meant a lot of the shots were at ISO 400 or even 800.   Add to that slower shutter speeds, and a lot of the shots just didn't turn out very well.  Considering this was my first time at this location, the first time shooting the 400mm, and the first time on a dedicated trip to shoot eagles I think I did ok.

Aside from the eagles, we were treated to a few nice views during the day.  Both shot with the 400mm, the darker blue image is a 3-shot HDR.

Portfolio Brackendale Mountains

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

These are some of my favorite shots from the day.  First, a juvenile eagle was flying towards me and about to land in a tree.  Of the 5 shots I got of him, this is the only one worth posting. (In case it's not obvious, you can click the photos to view the bigger version).

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Another flight photo, this one I attempted to pan the 400mm to get some shots, most were blurry or had only a part of the eagle in the frame.  This one turned out better than I thought it would.

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Sometimes, eagles are not the graceful and majestic creatures we think they are. When you have to go you have to go.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Some shots of the equipment used.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

The following photos are not great, but I thought I'd include them as they capture a flight sequence and my attempt at capturing the eagles in flight.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

And more, not good due to slow shutter speeds, but capture a moment when an eagle swoops in to steal the salmon away from the others.  Incoming!


Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

And the rest of the images from the shoot worth posting.  They include a Great Blue Heron, which often go ignored when the eagles are there but they are no less interesting nor any less beautiful.

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Great Blue Heron Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Brackendale Eagles Photo Trip

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Brackendale, Sneak Peek

I took a trip with my friend Andrew to Brackendale today to find some Bald Eagles.  The eagles were not hard to find, but certainly not easy to photograph.  Most of the time they were quite far away, and occasionally they would fly by a little closer.  I borrowed a big 400mm f/2.8 lens from my boss, which was a huge help but a monster to try and pan as an eagles did a fly by.  Too tired to process photos today, but here are two from the trip.  More to come soon. another When we first showed up at the main viewing area, the eagles were far away but this fellow was close and didn't mind posing for a photo.  It's a Great Blue Heron, you can see a past photo I took of  a heron here.

Great Blue Heron Brackendale BC Dec 2011


I also managed to capture a couple of eagles in flight, this was one of the better shots.  The lens really is huge, so this is no easy task.

Bald Eagle in flight Brackendale BC Dec 2011

Albert Einstein

LIFE Magazine's Best-Ever Photos

LIFE magazine is celebrating their 75th anniversary with some interesting photo galleries.

LIFE's 37 Best-Ever Science Photos: key moments in science.

The 75 Best LIFE Photos: sport, art, science, war, and more.

Inspiring and interesting, worth a visit.



Spotted Moray among the urchin and coral, Lanai, Hawaii, Nov 2011

Trip to Hawaii, November 2011

A few photos from my trip to Maui in November.  I stayed at the Honua Kai Resort and Spa, which is the newest resort property on Maui.  Great place to hang out.   I didn't get the chance for any really nice shots, so this is more documentary than artistic.

Spotted Moray among the urchin and coral, Lanai, Hawaii, Nov 2011


Cathedral 1, Lanai, Hawaii, Nov 2011


Hawaii Diving: Wreck of the Naked Lady
Hawaii Diving: Wreck of the Naked Lady


Hawaii Big Island South Point
Hawaii Big Island South Point

Alan Sailer high speed egg

Air Gap Flash & Alan Sailer's Photostream

I have seen a lot of good high speed photography, but Alan Sailer has some of the most interesting shots out there.  These shots are taken using some specialized equipment, including an 'air gap flash'.  I have never heard of this device until today, and apparently it's a DIY flash that has the potential to kill you.  Standard flashes (Canon, Nikon) have a minimum duration of 1/40,000th of a second.  It seems short, but when photographing bullets it's an eternity.  At 1000 feet/second (not that fast in bullet terms), that bullet can travel 1/3rd of an inch so it's more of a streak in the image than a bullet frozen in time.  This air gap flash can have a flash duration of 1/1,000,000th of a second (about 25x faster than a standard flash).

You can make your own air gap flash by following the directions here.  However, if you don't know how to work with high voltage, don't even try.  As the author of the site says "you should not build this because this flash will kill you".  What you essentially make is a 35,000 volt capacitor that releases a 1.5" spark across a gap.  If you don't know what you are doing, that voltage will be released into your body and you won't be around to tell anyone how that felt.  So don't build it, but do read about it, it's an interesting device.

This is what the air gap flash looks like when complete.

air gap flash

As far as the images you can capture with it, here are a few samples.

Christmas bulb filled with gelatin and shot with a marble.

Alan Sailer christmas bulb high speed


Hot dog shot with a pellet gun.

Alan Sailer hot dog high speed

To see more of Alan's great work, visit his Flickr Photostream.  He has a ton of amazing photos there and doesn't just shoot things with a gun.  He has an air cannon that is used to shoot a lime through a piece of beef or a ping pong ball through fruit.  Definitely worth a visit.


50mm lens shootout

Seven 50mm prime lenses for Nikon F-mount compared

Cary Jordan compares seven 50mm lenses for Nikon F-mount including several Nikkor lenses, Sigma, and Carl Zeiss.  Full results at the link below.

Overall, your best bet is the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens.  You can buy the f/1.4 version at substantially more cost but most people don't need the extra speed.

More at Nikon Rumors

Joey L Photography

Joey L. Photography

Another photographer worth checking out.  Fantastic portraits and location shots, very inspiring to view the portfolio.

Joey L. Photography

Jamie Ibarra Photo

Jaime Ibarra Photography

Definitely a site worth visiting to see some stunning photography.   It is interesting to note that Jaime has Synesthesia (he 'hears' colours).

The site is not entirely safe for work, just a warning.

Jaime Ibarra Photography

Giant Negative

A Six-Foot-Long Camera That Shoots Enormous Photos

For some people film is superior to digital, for others film is a joke and medium format is the only way to go. for one guy, no existing camera was good enough so he decided to build this monster that produces negatives 3 feet long!


iPhone Test 1

iPhone 4S vs Canon P&S vs Nikon D90

An image shootout between the iPhone 4S, a digital point and shoot (Canon SD870 IS), and a digital SLR (Nikon D90). I have tried to match focal length as best I can.  On the Canon I zoomed in slightly to try and get the same field of view.  On the Nikon I used a 14-24 lens at 24mm.

iPhone Camera

  • Sensor: 8 megapixel CMOS sensor (1/3.2")
  • Focal length: 4.28mm
  • Aperture: f/2.4
  • Image dimensions: 3264 x 2448
  • Focal length multiplier: 7.61
  • 35mm equivalent: 32.6mm

Canon SD870 IS

  • Sensor: 8 megapixel CCD sensor (1/2.5")
  • Focal length: 4.6-17.3mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8-5.8
  • Image dimensions: 3264 x 2448
  • Focal length multiplier: 6.02
  • 35mm equivalent: 28-105mm

Nikon D90 with Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 Lens

  • Sensor: 12 megapixel CMOS sensor (Nikon DX)
  • Focal length: 12-24mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Image dimensions: 4288 x 2848
  • Focal length multiplier: 1.5
  • 35mm equivalent: 18-36mm

Photos were taken with the Canon set to Auto, flash disabled.  The D90 was set to "P", flash disabled, lens at f/2.8.  All devices were hand-held, medium light.  Here are the results.


iPhone 4S

iPhone Test 1


Canon SD870 IS

Nikon D90

Nikon D90 Test 1

Taking a crop on the clock face you get this.

iPhone 4S

Canon SD870 IS

SD870 Zoom 1

Nikon D90

D90 Zoom 1

Nikon 1

Nikon 1 System Preview Preview

Digital Photography Review has just posted a preview of Nikon's newest cameras, the J1 and V1. There are a few image samples and comparisons to the competition. Worth a look if you are interested in these models. Me, I'm still waiting for the D800.

GoPro Hero 2

GoPro Launches HD HERO2 Camera

GoPro has announced a new camera, the Hero2. 11-megapixel sensor (versus 5MP for the old GoPro), sharper lens, and new remote features. Looks like a good buy, and will likely entice me to buy one myself.

2X More Powerful in Every Way 11MP Sensor

  • 2x Faster Image Processor
  • 2X Sharper Glass Lens
  • Professional Low Light Performance
  • Full 170º, Medium 127º, Narrow 90º FOV in 1080p and 720p Video
  • 120 fps WVGA, 60 fps 720p, 48 fps 960p, 30 fps 1080p Video
  • Full 170º and Medium 127º FOV Photos
  • 10 11MP Photos Per Second Burst
  • 1 11MP Photo Every 0.5 Sec Timelapse Mode
  • 3.5mm External Stereo Microphone Input
  • Simple Language-based User Interface
  • Wi-Fi BacPac™ and Wi-Fi Remote™ Compatible (coming soon)
  • Long Range Remote Control of up to 50 GoPro Cameras
  • Wi-Fi Video/Photo Preview + Playback + Control via GoPro App
  • Live Streaming Video and Photos to the Web

Check here for a comparison of GoPro cameras.

Awesome promotional video shot entirely with the Hero2


Press Release

GoPro Hero 2
GoPro Hero 2

Science World HDR

BC Place and Science World HDR Photos

A couple of HDR photos shot in the false creek area of Vancouver, BC. The new BC Place stadium and Science world. I processed with a demo version of PhotoEngine which I like a lot.

Science World HDR
Science World HDR
BC Place HDR
BC Place HDR


iPhone 4S HDR

My First iPhone 4S HDR

This is the first photo I took with the iPhone 4S in HDR mode.  Untouched, this is how it came from the phone.  Rather impressive considering it was shot in low light.  Looking forward to testing this new camera more now that I see the results.

iPhone 4S HDR
iPhone 4S HDR

Same file with some edits in Lightroom

iPhone 4S HDR Edit
iPhone 4S HDR Edit

And for comparison an HDR from the same scene, same time shot with a Nikon D90, 14-24 lens, processed with PhotoEngine and Lightroom. The iPhone photo isn't bad, but I don't think anyone can argue it's as good as shooting the scene with a decent camera.

BC Place HDR with D90 and 14-24
BC Place HDR with D90 and 14-24

One more shot, I had a request to try and tone the iPhone photo to more closely match the D90 shot.

BC Place iPhone 4S re-edit in LR3 to match D90
BC Place iPhone 4S re-edit in LR3 to match D90

Lytro camera

Lytro introduces world's first light field camera

Interesting technology, remains to be seen how well it works in the hands of consumers. May become the new standard for digital sensors if they can increase the resolution.

Lytro introduces world's first light field camera: f/2 lens, $399, ships early 2012

View sample images at the Lytro image gallery.

Lytro camera

Canon 1D X top

Canon Unveils the 1D X

Wow, Canon just took the wraps off a new DSLR.   It's a blend of their previous two high end models, mixing high speed and a full frame sensor.  14fps, 18-megapixel full frame shooter, sounds like a winner if you have the cash ($6800 when it ships in March 2012).

Canon 1D X

Canon Unveils the 1D X: One DSLR to Rule Them All

If you want to see and hear what 14 frames per second is like, have a look here.

DP Review article on the 1D X

Excellent summary by Rob Galbraith

Flickr: johnhallmen's Photostream 1

Flickr: johnhallmen's Photostream

This guy has the most amazing macro photos, view his Flickr photostream at the link below.  A few samples:



He takes many shots with different focus and stacks them using specialized software.  The results are stunning.

Flickr: johnhallmen's Photostream.