ATP Challenger San Benedetto

•July 20, 2009 • 2 Comments

Ideally I should have posted this at least a week ago, but my internal clock said it was time to do anything BUT. I also slept a lot. The tournament, btw, went great. The stands were always full for the night sessions and that was a beautiful thing to see. The only snag were the early upsets and retirements: the tournament lost 7 of its 8 seeds in the first two rounds. Things straighten up in the end, though, with the victory of the young and promising Italian Fabio Fognini, the number 1 seed. Here’s a nice (I think) picture of him during the final:

Fognini’s opponent in the final match was Argentina’s Cristian  Villagran, one of the nicest guy ever. He also won the Doubles with Stefano Ianni, so he didn’t go home empty handed. On court, he’s a fighter:

I’ll finish with my most favorite tennis shot… ever! The player is Marco Crugnola. The linesman keeping his eyes on the line behind him is what makes the shot, in my very amateurish opinion.

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Rainy day, new photo tent…

•May 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I recently picked up a cloth photo tent to replace my DIY lightbox. The setup is still a far cry from anything resembling a serious rig but does a better job to diffuse the light (I think). It also doesn’t stick in the room like a sore thumb, or, actually, it probably does but it’s less… sore-y. Also, it was dirt cheap, off Amazon. That’s nice too.

Today’s rain, or should I say tropical downpour, is still going strong and with nothing better to do, it was the perfect opportunity to play with this new toy. It’s weird but I never feel like trying my hand at this kind of photography with a nice weather. Wait, that isn’t weird at all.

As subjects I chose a bunch of different stuff, bounty of a quick hunt around the house: a nice fat plant covered with small red berries, a wood giraffe, a blue stylized cow made of ceramics, a steel surfing man that moves (almost) on his own… I’ll get around to my action figures next, I suppose.

Here’s the surfing man:

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This is how it looks when he’s motionless…or, yeah, shutter speed is enough to freeze it. The Surfing Man was a Easter Egg gift. It was pretty dusty, it shows, and I did clean it beforehand. But I like it anyway.

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This ceramics cow, I honestly have no idea where it came from: some travel souvenir, for sure, but not mine. I’d rather fancy visiting a place where they make blue cows, so I’ll make sure to find out.

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I must admit I’m pretty happy with these three. DPP (and the RAW format) was again my friend: the black wasn’t quite this black out of the camera. It still isn’t full black, but it’s very close now. Close enough, I’d venture.

There’ll be a general wind theme

•May 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

We’re getting warmer and nicer weather by the day now in my corner of the world and beach activities are picking up. One such involved one I would hardly had interest in if I didn’t like taking pictures: a Flying Kites Competition/Festival. My relationship to kites is pretty much akin to Charlie Brown’s, with a pivotal difference: he, at least, usually gets to fly his though it always ends badly. Mines stubbornly refused to.

But I’m all grown up now so I picked up my camera and went to watch people who are really good at building flying kites that actually fly (or possibly they’re good at flying kites in addition to building them). Anyway, I mostly used my standard zoom but brought along the Tammy 70-300, for two reasons: it’s my longest lens and, in a situation where sand and wind are involved, I’d rather have a € 130 lens than a € 600 one. In retrospect, I regret not using the Tammy a lot more. On site it felt like shorter and wider was the way to go but watching the pictures I miss not having a few more close ups. And my two favorite shots came from the Tammy. This guy making his kite soar:

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And this close up:

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In addition to slapping a polarizing filter on the 18-55 (I don’t have one that fits the Tammy) I used the Landscape picture styles in DPP on all the pictures: this picture style enhances the blues and the greens so I think I reached really unhealthy levels of too-blue-to-be-true skies and general oversaturation. I look forward to browse these pictures in a few months and recoil in horror.

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complexkite03  kites01 kites05  kites12

Kittens make stupid currency but are great for snapshots

•May 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

Photographing cats is usually very rewarding because cats are unable to look bad. Really, what feline isn’t amazingly photogenic? So the chances of taking awful pictures are low and confined to technical issues. Cats can be tricky, of course: they move fast, they’re unpredictable, they have special personalities. Our happy mom, for instance, hates to be photographed. She always moves or hides her face as soon as she sees me with the camera, I’m not kidding. The kittens, and I almost wrote “the kids”, are another story, they’re playful and curious about everything, plus completely adorkable, something adult cats can never be (they’re still adorable, though). The coloring of this litter, all that black and white, makes it a bit difficult to expose correctly but that’s what full manual controls are for, assuming one knows what one’s doing (which isn’t always my case).

kitties

I simply adore this one above, because it looks like they were posing and pulling faces to boot, at least the one on the left. He (or she: we’re still a bit uncertain about the genders) was, of course, yawning. But I like to think otherwise.

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As I said, adorkable. One more:

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Sunday, cars and a kit lens

•May 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The so called “standard zoom” is the lens I used the least. Point of fact, I still have the original kit lens (Canon) even though, as every Internet-indoctrinated newbie photog can tell you, I’ve been thoroughly enlightened on its awfulness (we’re talking the 18-55 non-IS version here: the newer model is supposed to be better optically, aside from having image stabilization on its plus column. It doesn’t get the hate the old model does, anyway). I just don’t use it enough to make it a priority upgrade: even now, after a couple of years, a better standard zoom is probably 3 or four on my shopping list, far behind a ultra wide-angle and a couple of fast primes.

This strikes me as odd: this focal range is called “standard” for a reason, after all. And yet. Anyway, this preamble takes me to my Sunday activities, namely shooting a vintage cars showcase with my not-so-standard-for-my-habits zoom, equipped with a polarizer since it was outdoor, a very bright, very sunny outdoor. Polarizers are a wonderful thing as far as I am concerned, I use mine too much (skies too blue to be true? Yep, I’ve got plenty of those). Well, it was fun, though in retrospect I kick myself for shooting just the cars mostly. The people ogling them were interesting, too. Next year or next car show, I suppose.

This is my favorite shot of the day:

jaguar02

This one is a cheat: it’s twice a cheat, actually. It’s a cheat once because in the pre-processed photo the car was in focus and it’s a cheat twice because the fake bokeh effect (and the b&w with just one spot of color) were done using Picasa’s presets and not slaving hard (assuming it requires hard slaving, I didn’t try) in Photoshop or similar “serious” photo editing software. I think it looks nice, though:

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This is, I think the word is curious, not the picture though, just the subject. All I have to say is, this old Jaguar came very well equipped. And I’d love to have such a cool tool box in my car (which is not a Jaguar, either old or new. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t have one):

tools

I also shot cars in their entirety: but for some reason I always like the details better than the whole picture (pun mostly intended). Maybe that’s why the standard zoom doesn’t work as a standard for me.

Black, red and notes

•April 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So, I’m on the jury for this rock contest (I’m the not.musician person on it) and last night I brought my camera too and had a little fun with. I basically had little to no idea about what I was doing because it was the first time shooting this kind of event: I took a couple of pics using the built-in flash, then I cranked up the ISO up to 1600 (sadly the max my aging 350D goes), fixed the aperture at 2.8 and went for it. As a lens I used the 60mm macro, which is the fastest one in my kit and of course I kept wishing I had something faster. And a bit shorter too, especially when the local bands where performing and there was no way to take the full stage in with all the people pressing toward it. Anyway, these are some of the results of the night. White balance was kinda of a pain, I went through adjusting it in DPP but then I realized that stuff actually glowed with the colors of the lights (lots of reds and yellows). Why should I adjust it, if that’s what they looked like? So, I did and didn’t. It’s a thing.

First, equipment:

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Then, those who use it:

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Finally an…experiment:

sotterranea05

Light pollution, you say?

•April 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

You know how they tell you about the terrible light pollution that denies the stars to the modern human and all you think about is how crappy half of the street lamps in your town are? Well, no more. Either the Universe has dramatically accelerated its expansion and we’re way closer to the Big Freeze, or light pollution is really stealing our stars.

Last night, after about a week waiting for a clear sky, I set up to shoot the stars from my balcony. It was a bust. Oh, I did learn a few things, one being there’s way too much bleeding light coming from street lamps and houses, to get enough stars to appear in a pleasing way. Also, I did manage to experiment a lot with exposures and full manual controls and I have a clearer idea on how to get pointy stars or trailing stars. I wasn’t expecting to get good or even decent pictures the first time around, but the lack of stars showing up or how dimmed most of them looked even with very long exposures (tried everything from mere seconds to over an hour) was disappointing. So, I have a lot of reading and a lot of practice ahead of me, but the latter will wait until the first weekend in the country where hopefully the sky will be more vivid.

 
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