Category Archives: EOS Rebel T4i / 650D

Street Festivals

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of street festivals; in fact I probably would not go out of my way to find a street festival but on a weekend with nothing to do, they can often fill the void.

Scot Free 1
I gave Scot a few dollars for his wonderful  performance

A couple weeks ago my mother said “hey let’s go to the Polish festival”. Now it was not a totally random thing, we were planning to meet up with some family friends who are polish. We had them over for a BBQ and they wanted to repay us for the favour. Unfortunately, things did not pan out, our friend who is a real-estate broke ran into an emergency and needed to quickly close a deal, so my mother and I found ourselves wandering the streets of Roncesvalles on our own.

No big deal though, there was plenty to do and see. The first act we saw was by a street performer called Scot Free who not only was witty and entertaining but did some things I can only describe as daring. Between juggling knives, torches and chainsaws, he also insisted that watch him swallow fire. What made Scot the perfect subject for some photos was that he was very energized, he had tons of facial expressions, physical actions, bright high contrast clothing and was surrounded by awed onlookers.

Scot Free 6
Scott Free – ISO 800, f/3.5 @ 1/800th of a second

Catching this action required some camera settings I don’t often use. I took a few photos at ISO 100 f/2.8 1/150th of a second, which was fine when Scot paused for a moment or I needed some motion blurring of his action. I also set the camera in multi-frame mode for speed shooting, this way I could bang off 6 – 9 shots in 1-2 seconds if I really wanted to capture those key millisecond moments.

The glasses make this shot!

Once Scot really got into his act, I needed more shutter speed to freeze time. I’ve heard photographers say all they need is 1/200th of a second to capture the motion of any living creature. I call that a bunch of BS, if you really want to freeze time 1/500th of a second is only scratching the surface for slow things. You really need to be around 1/800th of a second or faster once you get people/animals/objects that are really moving and 1/1000th of a second and faster to start freezing inanimate objects like speeding cars, airplane props, explosions and very fast land creatures like birds diving and cheetahs running or horses galloping.

For Scot, 1/800th of a second at ISO 800 with an f/3.5 shutter for added sharpness was perfect. I was able to catch him in the act quite literally as he busked.

Moving on, street festivals bring out not only professional performers like Scot, but they also seem to attract the more interesting people you probably would not otherwise normally see. While enjoying a Polish band playing some traditional English disco tunes, I spotted a blue and orange, well dressed, retired hipster dancing up a storm. I had to grab a photo and truth be told, he seemed to care less; he was having a good time and dancing up a storm!

Tom Jones – unofficially

A little further down the road, I heard the echoing voice of Tom Jones blaring. Sadly, it was not the real Tom Jones, but a cover act doing a good job of reproducing the melodic tunes he’s known for and just like before, it was quite a show with the crowd getting involved.

Lastly, beyond all the people at street festivals, performers, singers, and entertainers alike, these places seem to provide plenty of opportunities for macro food photography and even some generic street shots.

While walking we found this Mexican dessert stand (yes, at a Polish festival) and boy was the chocolate filled pastry delicious! The whole pile of it sitting on a basket at the vendors table also made for a cool macro shot. The owner was curious as to why I wanted a photo of a bunch of pastry in a basket, I guess he was just perplexed since most people seem to want to just eat it. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to it too but I just wanted a macro photo before I did so.

Mexican dessert, yummy!

Simulating Medium & Large Format Landscape Photography

Humber River During Late Summer by Vaughan Weather

Do you ever see those wonderful landscape photos with the bright vibrant colours, the smooth silky water and soft moving clouds?

Well chances are you have and these photos have traditionally been the domain of medium and large format field cameras using a bellows and rear plate which holds a piece of sheet film. The advantage these cameras have is that they can shift and tilt which corrects perspective, they have super small apertures, sometimes as high as F/60 giving an incredible and crisp depth of field. The downside is that that they are big, slow to setup, a tripod is necessary and you really need to know what you’re doing because film isn’t cheap and you won’t know what you have until well after the fact.

That said, in my opinion everything about medium and large format makes it special and often the results are well worth the effort needed!

In today’s digital world, you can simulate large format images but it takes patience and even more time to setup and go through the process than it would with a 4×5 box camera.

The super high apertures associated with medium and large format field cameras have the effect of not only producing super sharp images but also serve to slow down time immensely and what I mean by that is they will require a 1 – 4 second exposure (or longer) even in full daylight. This allows water and clouds to smear into a silky looking surface which is highly desirable.

Moss Covered Stones

In order to achieve the same effect with a digital SLR you need neutral density filters and good strong ones. My favourite ND is the B+W ND110 which knocks down light by about 11 f-stops. If you shoot at F/11 with the filter you effectively now have an F/22 setting and this can turn a full daylight exposure that would be 1/500th of a second normally into a 3 or 4 second exposure. This will allow you to get the desired silky effect that has been a staple of medium format landscape images for over a century.

In order to achieve the same level of sharpness, you need to take multiple images at slightly different focal lengths; you’ll need at least 4 images using an F/22 setting and 8 images at F/11 from infinity to maybe 6 meters. You can then import these images into an application like Photoshop and have them automatically aligned and then stacked, this process is called focus stacking because only the sharpest parts of the images will be combined giving a near true infinite depth of field.

Naturally between the filter forcing the camera to require a long exposure and having to take multiple images at different focal lengths you can easily spend five or ten minutes just getting one photo that you still have to process which is longer than you would need with a medium or large format camera.
But at the end of the day, as long as you took the time to frame your scene and had patience your end result will certainly be pleasing if not simply impressive!

A Quick Collage

Gravel Collage by Vaughan Weather

It’s easy to ignore the simpler things beneath our feet or above our heads but sometimes a simple pattern on an asphalt road or interlock pathway can make a wonderful photo if framed from above looking down.
In this case, the stone covered shore along Lake Ontario provided me with a wonderful random collage of rocks. I’ve actually taken numerous photos of the ground along this same stretch of shoreline under all sorts of lighting conditions. Generally speaking I find morning/evening and overcast daylight are the best conditions. Full sun works sometimes and can be very useful in creating high contrast images but sometimes it washes out too much detail or makes the image too harsh.

Whatever the case, next time you’re walking past anything, a wall, a fence, the ground, a roof, just take a second and stop. Think to yourself, if I took a photo of the pattern or random assortment of pieces composing the whole, would it be a cool photo?

Chances are the answer is yes, and you might just surprise yourself how you can find great photos almost anywhere!