Being in Hamburg Top

Recently I got a job offer as a freelancer in Hamburg. Of course this allows me to explore the city during the weekends, especially with my camera. So the past 2 days I went out with my bike and tried to discover a couple of interesting angles.
I managed to get 4 pictures that really appealed to me.

The first one has been taken at the river Alster in the evening. The Hapag Lloyd building is illuminated very nicely at night and giving off nice reflections.


The next two pictures have been taken on my way back. I stopped a couple of times to take pictures and also encountered a number of other photographers. Among them an old man on a bike that took great caution in riding his bike behind me, as to not get into the frame, telling me “Don’t worry, I’m a photographer too!” as he was passing by. The Heinrich Hertz Turm, a radio and tv tower located in the midst of Hamburg, was a subject that I intended to shoot when I first arrived in Hamburg already. Even that evening I had to try out 3 different perspectives to get this picture done.

The picture on the right was more of a snapshot though. I was cycling back home when the golden hour kicked in and this building was lit nicely – in contrast to the building in the background and the leaves in the foreground. The picture looks a little too crowded, but remains interesting nonetheless.

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Last but not least the Hamburg exhibition halls with the setting sun. I had to play around with the RAW file quite a bit to get the clouds nicely exposed without making the overall picture too dark (if the picture gets too dark, the silhouette look doesn’t work anymore). I think this turned out to be pretty well.


The last picture was shot right at the Alster again. It is a somewhat interesting building because of its facade, which has quite a unique structure. The sun was reflecting nicely on it, but the picture truly shines in black and white. I’d say this was a fairly successful photo session.


Short trip to Spain Top

As I had to sort some business out, I went on a short trip to Spain – Mallorca to be precise.
Unfortunately I barely had the time to relax or shoot any pictures, but I managed to get a few at least.

Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma

This is an HDR shot that I did by balancing the camera on a stone. I didn’t take my tripod with me (as I was only travelling with hand luggage and it’d been too heavy), but this worked out quite well nonetheless. So I used the auto bracketing feature with -3 to +3 EV and put together the HDR with Photomatrix Pro.
Afterwards I edited it a bit more in Photoshop, specifically the colors, a little CA correction and de-noising.
I’m quite happy with the result here.

Seagulls Into the dusk

Those two were shots that I shot while the sun was setting. I was on my way to the hotel, passing by a busy beach when there were lots of seagulls soaring through the air. Naturally I tried to capture a few – not as easy as it amy seem.
I particularly like the composition on the left picture, but the right one is quite pleasing as well. The first picture barely needed any editing, I could get away with changing a couple of settings when developing the RAW file and a little de-noising.
The second picture on the other hand needed a little more playing around with the colors. It was too saturated and didn’t feel right. So I had to adjust the colors quite a bit, de-noise the picture and add a little vignetting.

Thunderstorm at night Top


Yesterday there was an amazing thunderstorm with a rather high frequency of lightning. So before going to bed, I decided to go out for half an hour and try to catch some.

With a long exposure of about 15 seconds, I managed to get a nice flash right in the center. I cropped this to 16:9 format to discard some of the empty blackness and changed the white balance, because on auto WB the picture had too much orange – which is not at all how it looked at the time. After fixing that and a quick de-noising, this is it.

Just another 3 picture sunset walk Top

Once again when the sun began to set, as soon as I noticed that it wasn’t too cloudy and I had the chance to take pictures in good light, I grabbed my photo gear (always have it ready to go) and went out.

Strong sunset

Fortunately I was able to get a number of satisfying shots, which I quickly sorted down to 4 pictures and eventually decided to discard another one, because the quality wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. The shot above is a single shot with a s slow aperture and quick shutter speed (f8 at 1/2500th), I had to change the position a couple of times until I got the angle right and could point the camera without producing large amounts of lens flare.
It was well worth walking around, because I’m quite satisfied with this shot! On to the next one…
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Growing Wild Top

So today surprisingly it was a nice and sunny day, hence after finishing my work I was taking another stroll with my camera. There I came across this plant growing between the stones on a pathway. I took a few pictures, as I wasn’t entirely sure yet how I would frame it, also used my flash in one of the pictures to get an a little more evenly lit image, but eventually I decided against using it. The natural light gave me a better feeling.

Growing Wild

When I shot the picture, I already knew that I was either going to color-key it or to make it entirely black and white. Fortunately I could color-key it properly and achieved the look I had in mind.
I then did some de-noising and a little more editing to the plant, such as sharpening. Of course I had to adjust the surroundings as well and did so by using a gradient map (once again with a layer mask).

A general tip for doing color key pictures: If you can, don’t begin from scratch. Put together a decent layer mask by using selection tools such as the color range selection and then refine it by hand. This gives you a pretty good start and you don’t have to draw every single line by hand. With objects that have less structure, you might also use tools such as the lasso tool and then use “refine edge” to get a proper selection which you can then turn into a layer mask again (simply create a layer mask when you have your desired selection – the selection will then be applied into a mask).

I hope you enjoy the picture!

New flickr – and why the upgrade isn’t for everyone… Top


So here we go, my first critical blog entry where I’m trying to be objective and not completely give in to ranting.
Right at the time when I was launching my new site, flickr thought it would be a good idea to upgrade its site. That isn’t such a bad thing at all, upgrades are usually nice, bring in new features and improve the usability. New updates often come with a couple of problems and bad decisions, but they are usually corrected quickly after the launch. So I gave flickr a couple of days and am giving it a thorough review now.
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Spring has returned Top

When I went out with 2 pieces of a glass chess board, I had a particular picture in mind. Once again though, I had to change my plans when I was actually taking the pictures and experimenting a little. Despite the composition I originally pictured in my mind worked out well (the chess pieces on a drum with the sky as a background). However, the composition that looked best from my point of view was the one you can see below. I have shot it for the FlickrFriday theme #YouAndMe. I stepped the aperture down to f5.6 to get sufficient depth of field. You can see the full versions on flickr by clicking on the individual pictures.


I also took two more pictures, in black and white though. These are two slightly more unusual perspectives, to emphasize the unreachability of the basket as well as focus the viewer onto the (blurred) puddle. I experimented, but focusing on the puddle looked strange and unpleasing. I figured that focusing on the grass still let the puddle remain the object of interest in the picture. In order to direct the viewers eye you don’t always have to put the subject into focus (of course that usually helps :)) nor in the center. Sometimes you just need to experiment a little and decide on what feels natural rather than insisting on sticking to your original idea.

Out of reach Puddle in distress

Band photoshoot Top

Today I had my first band shooting with Open Water Collective. A friend of mine, Emily, asked me if I could do something that was a little different from usual band photos. Often you’re outside with the band, in abandoned places, fields, skate parks or similar where the band is posing. But they had a very particular idea in mind: having waves projected onto them infront of a big screen.


Fortunately I do own a projector and a sufficiently large screen, hence we could give it a try. Although I was somewhat skeptical, as we started the shoot and I experimented a little with different wave pictures (that I ended up editing, so the waves do not appear as strong on their faces), the initial results were surprisingly good.

A number of shots later we had the band arranged in a sastifying manner, the wave picture edited properly to fit the height of everyone and took some more shots. The projector was turned down in terms of brightness, so they wouldn’t have to squint. That however made the whole scene darker than expected, so despite the projector it was almost shooting in low light. I bumped up the ISO to get a decent shutter speed and that was alright to get some sharp shots. I still had to combine 3 pictures in the end to achieve the look that I wanted and to have everyone look as they wanted. Then just some minor Photoshop magic, cleaning up, removing shadows from the screen, de-noising, removing reflections on the glasses and that’s it.

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After the “work” was done and the main picture as well as the individual wave pictures had been shot, they were just having some fun in front of the camera. You can really see that those guys not only love to make music together, but are also a group that is having fun together in any situation.

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