Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Five Favorite Photo-Techniques Featuring Valencia, Spain

Good Morning Everybody,

20141013_153658486_iOSWe literally have been walking our way through Spain.  So much so that I wore holes through a good pair of shoes and had to purchase another pair in Valencia, Spain.  We are averaging about 7 miles a day walking, seeing the sights, and photographing like crazy. Latest image count – 10,141.

We're finally enjoying a few days off - quite a bit different from our whirlwind Valencia itinerary - and it's been great to just relax on our veranda next to the golf course and pool and watch the beautiful sunsets through the tall pines and palms.

Balcony View Malaga

I'll tell you, it's been good because LaDawn and I have been able to catch up on some of the studio housekeeping chores that have been on the back burner during all our photo excursions and while conducting the Master Class in Barcelona.

Anyway, I've been telling you how great our visit to Valencia has been so in today's post I'd like to share with you several of our photographic experiences in that fabulous city.  Hold on….here we go.

My Five Favorite Photo-Techniques Featuring Valencia, Spain

Wide Angle Lenses: One Of My Photographic Drugs Of Choice

Sigma 12-24mmAnd I really mean wide angle.  One of my favorite lens in my gear bag is my Sigma 12 – 24 mm lens.  Here is my review of the lens right here. This lens gives me 122 degrees of rectilinear corrected wide angle wonderfulness!  I love it for certain shooting situations.

In Valencia that perfect situation was on our visit to the unbelievable City of Arts and Sciences about 4 miles from where we were staying. It was a short distance so we decided to walk over and spend the day.

From an architectural standpoint, this complex is mind blowing in its concept and design.  It covers several city blocks and is a photographer's joy just to walk through.  And walk through especially with a very wide angle lens. 

Check out the images below and you'll get an idea just how spectacular and fun this location was to photograph. Clicking on an image will make it full size.

High Dynamic Range HDR Images: Keeping It Simple

I have to tell you - I'm a big fan of Canon's built in HDR setting in the Canon 5D Mark III camera. I'm also excited that this same feature will be part of the Canon 7D Mark II specs, as well, when it rolls out at the end of the month.  Anyway, I really like the result I get with the HDR setting when shooting scenics, church interiors, dark museum paintings, and night scenics.

My settings are simple - I let the camera adjust the dynamic range automatically and I set the HDR enhancement to Art Standard. Auto Align is also enabled since all of my images are hand-held, and I save all the source images just in case I need them later.

That's about it - check out a few of the images below to see what I'm looking for - pretty cool, I think.

DAZNOTE: The SX50 camera which I discuss below also has an HDR mode unfortunately, I don't find it as useful because I'm not a big fan of the finished result.  It seems to always blow out the highlights unlike the beautiful result I obtain from the 5D Mk3. See SX50 first image above. See what I mean when compared with the other 5 which were all Canon 5D Mark III images.

SX50 - Canon's Super Camera For Getting Up Close and Personal

Now having ended the previous section with sort of a put down of the Canon SX50 camera, let me say up front that it is one of my favorite cameras I own. The 24-1200mm optical and image stabilized zoom range is incredible. The 12 meg RAW file is pretty darn good and the sharpness, while not great, is not bad at all. I made 16x20 inch prints from this little camera and they look wonderful - not 5D Mk3 great but good.

What's my favorite feature?  It has to be the incredible zoom range. Shooting 1200mm images stabilized is truly a joy for many situations.  Case in point is when LaDawn and I visited the exciting Valencia BioParc last week. BTW, click on the active link to the left and check out their cool website. 

I couldn't pry that little camera from her hands.  She loved it for getting up close and personal with the various wildlife on display at the BioParc. Most of the images below were racked out to about 1200mm (35mm equivalent) with a shutter speed averaging 1/125 second – AMAZING!

Check out her images below.  They're great and very fun to take.

High ISOs: I Love Breathing In Those High ISO Fumes

I like to say that I get high on two things in this profession - super wide lenses and super high ISOs. I love to shoot what the eye can barely see.  These new high ISO cameras make it easy as pie to get the photograph. Check out my blog post right here about how to get great results at 12,800 ISO and beyond.

DZ2_8503I use ISOs up to 12,800 ISO when shooting HDR images in dark churches. Remember, the camera wants three images for the HDR process - one normal, one a few stops over to pick up the shadow detail, and one a few stops under to preserve the highlight detail.  That said, you've got to be aware of where that longest exposure is going to fall in the HDR sequence when shooting HDR in dark locations, hence the necessity of high ISOs. 

DAZNOTE: I've also found that when shooting the high ISO HDR images that the noise is somewhat minimized after the images are combined. That's just one more reason I like the high ISO HDR process.

The other thing that let's me squeak by with these high ISO settings is the fact that Lightroom 5 does such a great job of minimizing the noise in the images after a little tweaking of the Noise slider.  The results aren’t perfect for large wall photographs, but are just fine for my purposes…. wedding/event albums.

On visiting the aquarium at the City of Arts and Sciences I was challenged with the very dim lighting in the water tanks displaying the marine life.  High ISO to the rescue.  How many times have you tried to make images in this kind of situation and all the fish are blurry?  For me it's been plenty of times.





The problem is the shutter speed needed to capture the sea life swimming by.  I found with even slow moving marine life, I prefer about 1/125 to 1/200 second.  When shooting in such dim lighting conditions high ISO camera settings come to the rescue.  Check out some of my images below.  High ISO - like 12,800 ISO - worked out just fine.

DAZNOTE: Here's an interesting footnote to my aquarium shoot.  I was using my super wide Sigma lens discussed above and BOY did I like the result! The wide angle perspective together with the high ISO settings necessitated by the higher shutter speeds I needed gave me some of the best images I've felt I've ever taken in this kind of shooting situation.  Check a few of them out above.

Panorama Shooting: A Few Quick Tips

OK, right off the bat, I'm going to announce that I'm a lazy photographer.  I have seldom in my long career combined a sequence of images into a panorama.  Mostly I never got around to it.  I was always too busy working on something else.

But then it happened - smart phones, for example the Apple 5, made it super simple to pull off exciting and dramatic looking panoramas. Best of all….you can capture and create some really great images. Check out this image from the City of Arts and Sciences – Amazing!


While touring the Museum of Fine Arts in Valencia, the second most important art museum in Spain after the fabulous Prado in Madrid,  I made a few panos with my iPhone.  Pretty cool too.



BTW, we missed the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus back in the states - we were on a plane to Madrid the day they were released. But they were finally launched here in Spain a few weeks later.  After checking them out, I'm thinking the new 6plus is in my future;~)  Heck, just the 2 day battery life is worth it!

Anyway, back to panoramas.  You know that when you make a panorama you can only move the phone from left to right.  How annoying sometimes, right.  Want to pan from right to left?  Just turn the phone upside down;~)

Also some photographers don't like the fisheye effect - those curvy lines - in they're images. 


Here is something new to try.  Don't just stand in one place rotating the phone to capture your image.  Try holding the camera level and walk across the scene to create your panorama.  I have to admit, this was LaDawn's idea and it worked great for some pano graffiti images I captured.  Check three of them them out below. What do you think?  I like them.




Hey gang, that's it for me today.  It was a monster long post today and I hope you enjoyed it. Were off on an all day jeep safari tomorrow to see the countryside and villages, the olive and orange groves, and the sheep and goat farmlands of Andalucia Spain.  Our guide assures us of some great photo opportunities. So stay tuned.  Also be sure and check back for my Barcelona Master Class greatest hits images happening in the next few days.

Adios, David


  1. I treasure whenever you are able to share a post with us ;) Thank you. Brian F