Category Archives: Photography Tips

How to Photograph the Matterhorn

how to photograph the matterhorn

Imagine you took the world’s 50 most famous mountains — Everest, K2, Denali, Fuji — and put their image on a flash card. Now imagine that you’ve flipped through the entire deck and quizzed yourself. Could you name most of these mountains based on their profile alone? The unique silhouette they cut into the sky? Odds are, only two of those mountains would be gimmes. Kilimanjaro and the Matterhorn. Even Kilimanjaro might be a maybe, but the Matterhorn? Their ain’t another mountain on earth that rivals its facade.

On the train ride into Zermatt last summer, I had my back to the town as we rolled up the tracks. What I saw in reverse was the sight of every passenger leaning out the train windows seeking their first glance of the Matterhorn. At one point, I turned around, looked up the hillside, and bam: there it was. The sight of it made my heart skip a beat. I’m not kidding.

Photographing the Matterhorn is easy. Creating a unique image that hasn’t been done before … now that’s hard. Here are some things I learned on how to photograph the Matterhorn during my all-too-brief stay in Zermatt last June. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Switzerland: Desaturated, and in Black and White

A banner cloud drapes around the summit of the Matterhorn near Zermatt, Switzerland.

(Click on images for a larger view)

I recently spent two weeks touring around Switzerland with my wife and our one-year-old daughter. It was a magnificent trip — one of those get-it-out-of-my-system-now kinds of trips while Varenna is young and portable. Ha! That’s at least what we thought when we booked the trip in January. She’s a bit more … mobile, shall we say.

But we had a very good time, and ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised with the images I returned home with. In the moment, we both were a bit distracted trying to keep our daughter entertained, engaged, and safe. We worked hard every hour of the trip, just not on photography. Or so it seemed.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kauai Through a Tilt-Shift Lens

Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii (tilt-shift)Hanalei Valley Lookout; Canon 45mm TS-E, ISO 400, 1/3200 sec, f2.8

I’d hesitate to say I’m “into gear.” I’d rather read a personal finance blog than the Digital Photography Magazine Buyer’s Guide. In writing, gear is just not interesting.

Where things get interesting for me is when gear enables new techniques. Last year, I used BorrowLenses.com to rent a 200mm prime lens and a 24mm tilt-shift for Holy Week in Mexico. To have two new weapons in my bag made the week’s imagery 100% better. The 200mm allowed for more intimate candid shots during the processions, while the tilt-shift opened up hundreds of doors of creativity for my cityscape and architecture. It was like shooting in a third and fourth dimension.

For Kauai, I once again rented two lenses: this time, a 24mm–105mm zoom lens (a must for the helicopter tour) and a 45mm tilt-shift lens. Once again, the tilt-shift rocked.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

72 Hours in Seattle – Part 2

2008-11-09seattle-3957Day 2 began with another remarkable meal. After sleeping roughly 11 hours, Hailey and I walked a few blocks to Lola, a place I had enjoyed for breakfast on my last business trip. Denver has a Lola as well, totally different concept, totally different chef, and it is consistently the best restaurant in Denver. Seattle’s Lola is almost as good, though I can’t say for sure because I haven’t had lunch or dinner there yet. Since it was Sunday brunch and the Seahawks were on (man, this town is in a sports funk right now), we had to sit at the bar. We both indulged on a stack of golden brown pancakes with pork-maple sausage and vanilla mascarpone. I can only describe it by cussing. It was so delicious.

2008-11-09seattle-3897-version-2The day was going to prove challenging. For one, we had no rental car and we wanted to get out and explore a neighborhood or two. So it took us a while to figure out a game plan that relied on the public bus. For two, it was super cloudy and drizzly. Seattle is pretty far north, and this time of year, the sun’s rays come in at such an angle that they hardly penetrate the clouds. It was dark and somber all day, and despite the 11 hours of sleep, I couldn’t stop yawning. Apparently I have chlorofill in my skin and rely on sunlight for energy.

Anyhow, we ended up in Fremont, a funky, Bohemian peace-love-and-lots-of-colors kind of place. We window shopped, thought about buying stuff (never did) and wandered to a cafe for a late afternoon cappuccino to liven things up.

2008-11-09seattle-3903-version-2With sunset approaching and nary a compelling photograph on my memory card, we discussed what to do. At 5:30pm, my Uncle Mat and his wife Connie were picking us up for dinner, so we had to time things right with sunset (which wasn’t happening) and blue hour (which always happens) and not be too far from the hotel so we weren’t late for Mat and Connie. So we called a cab and had them take us to Kerry Park (the place for Seattle skyline shots). Right away, he found another couple of tourists who needed a lift back to downtown, so we split the cabfare. Kerry Park sucked. Yes, a beautiful view, but it was so dark, somber and cold, we were there for three minutes and back in the cab.

Just below Kerry Park and the Queen Anne neighborhood is Seattle Center, where the Space Needle is. The cabbie dropped us, we wandered for 20 minutes and then took the monorail back to downtown. Finally, things started coming together. Sorry for the repetition…I couldn’t decide on which of these Space Needle and carousel/Ferris wheel shots I liked the most. Any thoughts?

2008-11-09seattle-3936Once again, I was glued to the 24mm prime lens. Without a tripod and with such broad compositions unfolding at Seattle Center, it was nice to have such a wide and fast lens. It’s also balanced well, so even as I propped the camera on a railing to stabilize it, the lens balanced the weight nicely and I was able to hold still for a few frames.

It also has a remarkable bokeh, which is the unfocused effect that takes place when the aperture is wide open. Here’s Hailey at f/1.6. I love how the carnival glows around her.

2008-11-09seattle-3963And here is me at f/1.6. Hailey found a better composition, though it looks like my halo is exploding.

2008-11-09seattle-3965-1After we rushed back on the monorail, I thought I’d experiment one more time. I put the lens on manual focus, trained it on the traffic, traffic lights and street lamps (and a bit of blue night sky) and completing unfocused the lens for an all bokeh effect.

2008-11-09seattle-3972-version-2I don’t know. Everybody’s done this at least once, but its nice to have an abstract, impressionistic shot of the city at night.

One more episode from Seattle to come….

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 726 other followers