Sydney Opera House from the Harbour Bridge
A World Heritage Site Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the Sydney Opera House has about a 1000 rooms going 9 floors below for production, logistics and miscellaneous operations. It took 16 years to build. The story of its making, a drama onto itself, with a bittersweet ending.
The roof is made of 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections, which weigh up to 15 tonnes each, is covered with 1 million self cleaning tiles that have never been cleaned. I always thought it was made of large vinyl/canvas sails like the the ones you see at some new airports or stadiums. An amazing feat! Have you been to Sydney? What’s your favorite part of this beautiful city?
Sydney Harbor at Sunset
A few weeks ago I got to fulfill a life-long dream of visiting Sydney, Australia. I rarely make detailed plans when I travel as I like to give myself ample opportunity to be flexible, spontaneous and seize unique moments and experiences. One area where this rule does not apply however is where I stay. Wherever I stay absolutely must offer me a great view of the city. I want to wake up and see the city in all it’s glory and splendor. I want to draw my inspiration from it’s energy that day. At the end of my day I want to reflect on the day’s experiences within the broader context of the city as it’s lights shimmer and energy glows.
On this trip I stayed at the Sydney Harbour View Hotel. It offered a fairly unobstructed view of the city at a fairly reasonable rate. Even more critical to the success of my trip, there was a metro/subway and bus station literally downstairs, next door. This meant within 15-20 minutes of leaving my room, I could be virtually anywhere around the greater Sydney Harbor area. A lot of forethought goes into planning my trips and this is just one of the many thought processes I go through.
Have you been to Sydney? Do you live in Sydney? What’s your favorite view of the city? Stay tuned for many more views of this beautiful city.
These shots were taken using the Canon 5DsR and Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 lens on a Manfrotto tripod.
I wanted to post a little about the prints that we selected for the SMUD Exhibit: Through the Lens as part of the first inaugural annual photography month in Sacramento. I went back through my archives to find out when I took this shot and realized it’s been over 4 years ago. It was shortly after I visited Folsom Lake. California was approaching the height of a long drought. As a result the Folsom lake level was so low, it exposed an old gold mining camp/settlement that was otherwise buried under over a hundred feet of water. It was a profound experience walking among the old settlement from the gold rush days. It was also alarming as it underscored the dire situation Californians were facing. I posted about that excursion here: The California Drought – Folsom Lake.
As I walked the lake bed, it suddenly occurred to me that the river by Old Sacramento must have been at it’s lowest level in a very long time. The next thought that came to mind was that the low levels on the river would make for calmer waters and receded banks. This meant that I would be able to get a more dramatic shot at sunset. I was pretty much right on the money. The levels were so low no boats or water crafts didn’t dare disturb the water. It was as beautiful as it was spooky. I also captured a time lapse of the sunset in which you could see this thin ghost-like wispy clouds creeping up the river.
This image took 60 shots – 20 frames (two rows of 10 HDR) each consisting of 3 brackets. I shot it with the Canon 5D Mark III and the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II at 200mm. Composing, stitching and editing this shot took weeks as I would frequently exceed the limits of editing software and memory. Single layers were easily over 1.5GB in size had to be committed to separate files. Opening one layer quickly used up 8-10GB of system RAM, often resulting in data corruption. Producing this shot was a veritable test of patience, well worth the time and aggravation.
This shot like much of my photography is only available in a very limited edition of 10 signed and numbered copies. At the time of this post, only 4 copies remain in the edition. This is a large format print, while it is available in custom sizes, the smallest recommended size is 6.5 feet in length. It can be printed to the scale of a mural without any compromise in fine detail. You can make out wine glasses hanging over the bar inside the Delta King as well as every nut and bolt on the Tower Bridge. You can also make out art hanging on the walls in the office buildings. I am actively looking for opportunities to place at least one of the limited copies as a large format art installation.
Seattle Skyline from Alki Beach / Duwamish Head, Luna Park
Seattle skyline after sunset from Hamilton ViewPoint Park
It’s been a really busy year. Unfortunately the first thing to take a hit has been my blog posting. I have not been able post as consistently as previously. However I’m happy to say my photography has not taken a hit. I have pretty much dedicated whatever free time I can find to actually doing photography and traveling whenever I can. This means it’s just a matter of catching up and sharing. If you follow me on Instagram (@bryanallo), you will catch more frequent glimpses of my photographic exploits.
I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver via Seattle a little over a week ago. It dawned on me that I had visited Seattle about a year ago as well. I did a lot of Photography but never got around to posting about that trip. I suppose the main reason was I never got around to composing the large panoramic shots I had painstakingly captured. This one was captured just after Sunset, from Duwamish Head at Luna Park, in the Alki Beach area. I scouted this shot all afternoon with my brother who had just moved to Seattle at the time. After scouting the shot, we walked to the burger joint down the street for a late lunch. We returned to Luna Park and camped out there through the sunset. Fortunately Seattle revealed herself. It was quite windy though. This was only compounded by the long 400mm focal length required to get a good framing. My first choice location was Hamilton ViewPoint Park but alas there was what looked like an Ore Ship painstakingly offloading it’s cargo all weekend long right in the middle of my shot. So I went with plan B which did not disappoint at all.
I shot this with the 50 MegaPixel Canon 5DsR and the EF 100-400mm L IS II. I’m not sure I could have done it otherwise. The resulting panorama is half a GigaPixel with boat loads of detail and color. I am very much looking forward to taking this to Limited Edition print. Only 10 signed numbered copies will every be made.
Have you ever visited Seattle? What was your favorite view on the city?
Sunrise over Eagle Falls
After chasing sunsets all day over Glen Alpine Falls and Lilly Lake I retired to my room in a little motel on the outskirts of the City of South Lake Tahoe. Yes I did consider just sleeping in my truck as I sometimes do, since I only planned on sleeping a few hours. However, after hiking and standing on my feet all afternoon till after dark, I knew I would need a shower and a good night’s sleep; well 5-6 hours of sleep at least.
Just me, and the Sunrise
I have photographed Eagle Falls several times before. Most recently I visited the falls this past winter and made a daring hike down to the lower falls. I just realized I never posted about that excursion. It was quite and experience to say the least. I’m not sure I want to do that again. None-the-less, there had been one item on my Bucket List and that was to photograph the falls at sunrise. Sunset here is much less dramatic if not drab and unremarkable.
I woke up at 3:30am, showered, put on my winter clothes, prepped my camera gear, loaded up the truck and was on the road just after 4:00am. I arrived at the trail head around 4:30am. I was the only soul at the falls. Sunrise was around 5:30am. This gave me enough time to scout my shot. It was dark, with clear skies. After a few minutes my eyes adjusted and could see the stars. It was beautiful. I used Google SkyMap to determine where on the horizon the sun would appear so I can frame my shot to center it’s radiance. I was all setup and ready to go with so much time to spare that I actually took the time to photograph myself. I always forget to do this and thus have no record of ever being there.
Sunrise piercing through the trees
Nothing could have prepared me for the sunrise over Eagle Falls. Nothing. As the sun started to rise the breathtaking beauty all around me just kept intensifying. It was surreal. One thing I love about sunrises is that they tend to last much longer than sunsets. I reflected back to the previous day as I lay on my sofa just before noon and decided all of a sudden that was NOT now I wanted to spend my weekend. Now there I was the following morning, my soul overflowing. My passion fulfilled. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.
I hope you enjoyed the photos and they inspire you to dare to venture out and explore. The shots are unedited and straight out of the camera, as I tend to do these days. This explains the halos and ghosting typical of in-camera HDR images. The camera has less elaborate HDR algorithms. Who has time to tinker with image editors when you could be out there? I typically only edit/process when I’m taking a photo to limited edition print. The two panoramas here will definitely be available in very limited edition print.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Several weekends ago while Chasing the Sunset over Glen Alpine Falls, I took a break for a late lunch snack a little further upstream at Lily Lake. It was so relaxing to just sit there and take it all in, all of this magnificence, all to myself. No cell phone reception forced me to unplug from technology that has so much invaded every aspect of our lives.
Taking a break from chasing the sunset at Little Lake.
We’ve had record rain and snowfall this year so I wondered what this lake would look like with a little less water – perhaps more like a bog?? I made a note to revisit it later in the summer. Maybe with waders on? An inflatable dingy/boat? A shot from the middle would be beautiful.
I did take a fem moments to give the scene a good photographic treatment. I have yet to process the ultra high resolution panorama, but judging from the looks of these quick and rough shots, it should be a real treat to look at when it is ready. It will most likely be available in very Limited Edition print.
Jenny light painting with steel wool
Last week my friend Jenny and I were finally able to get together and play with some steel wool. We had been talking about exploring this popular genre of photography for a while now. Since none of us had tried it before, the idea was to get familiar with the nuances and work on technique before we tackle our more ambitious creative ideas. It turned out to be some of the easiest fun I’ve had with photography in a while.
Basic light painting supplies
After some quick googling, I found out it was pretty simple to put together. There are of course way more elaborate ways of doing this but I very much prefer the path of least resistance. This means less time tinkering, and more time practicing photography. All you really need is some steel wool, a wire whisk, some steel wire/cable and a lighter. It turns out I already had all I needed laying around the house.
Our first try
Steel wool burns very fast. We did almost two dozen takes. Each take lasted mere seconds but were a veritable light show, even more so on camera as you can see. I set the Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod. My Model, Jenny, held a candle in front of her face while standing on a predetermined spot. This helped me acquire focus on her in live view. I then switched to Manual Focus, and set my shutter to about 5 seconds. This covered most of the take from start to finish. I would light the wool for her, jump out of the frame and trigger the shutter, using and infra red remote control. We got the hang of things pretty quickly. We are definitely ready for our more creative ideas. I can’t wait!
Molten steel embers/sparks can be very very hot. Although they are generally too small to be of any concern, some larger globs/chunks/drops will break loose and continue burning where ever they land. I kept a water hose close by just in case I had to put one out. I also keep several canisters of fire extinguishers on hand at all times. You cannot be too careful. Please allow ample space and nothing flammable around you.
Crimson sunset over Boston – Canon 5D Mark III + EF 24-105mm f/4
This past Wednesday the fog and rain gave way for partly cloudy skies over Boston. What this meant for me was spectacular light shows at sunset, depending on what types of clouds were forming overhead. Usually this kind of weather leads to higher altitude clouds, the best kind. At sunset they reflect the red sunset light from the horizon back down against a backdrop of clear blue skies. The full spectrum of colors are just magical, a real treat.
All you have to do is show up about an hour before sunset, find a good vantage point, kick back and enjoy the magic hour. I spent some time on my flight and in the airports planning this shot, looking for the right perspective on the city at sunset and also the best unobstructed view of the skyline. Fortunately this key vantage point happens to be a public park. Thank you City of Boston for protecting this view for all! I often have to go places I really shouldn’t go, and the risks to myself and my gear are really not necessary – however often worth the shot.
Fine tuning manual focus on the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 before starting the HDR time lapse
Sunset was around 8:30pm. I arrived the North Harbor before 7pm and scouted a bit before settling on this view. By 7:30pm I had configured and set off the 7D Mark II for a 3 hour HDR time lapse. What an amazing camera. When properly configured, you can save days of post processing time when doing HDR time lapse photography. I hope to post a how to on this soon. With the 7D Mark 2 on time lapse duty and time to spare before magic hour, I turned to setup the 5D Mark III.
Magic Hour is here!
I brought the beastly EF 300mm f/2.8L IS Mark II on this trip, however it was a bit too long for this scene. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II would have been better suited. So I resorted to the trusted and versatile EF 24-105mm f/4L IS. It allowed me to switch from wide to telephoto with relative ease and enough detail for a signature high resolution panoramic shot. From this point on, with all my settings dialed in, it was pretty straight forward. So I just enjoyed the view and captured the magic. I am pleased with the shots I got and will be posting sneak peeks as soon as get them processed.
The final shots will be released as Limited Edition fine art canvas prints. The HDR time lapse shots will eventually be available as 4K video for anyone to license and use in their projects/productions. The video will also eventually accompany all limited edition prints in the form of a DVD screensaver. Here are some behind the scenes shots from this outing.
Managed to fit it all into the LowePro!
Setting up the 7D Mark II for HDR time lapse
Fine tuning manual focus on the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 before starting the HDR time lapse
All setup and ready for Magic Hour
Magic Hour is here!
I’m always behind the camera and forget to get proof that I was actually there! …LOL
Beautiful color changes
Quick panorama shot with phone.
Where was this shot taken?
Vancouver at Sunset via Olympic Village, False Creek – Canon 5D Mark III + Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
If you ever visit Vancouver BC, do take a stroll around Olympic Village at sunset. The views of the skyline are breathtaking. The people are friendly and outgoing. The air is crisp and water always calm. This makes for an almost magical visual experience. This is really why I do this – being able to personally immerse myself in, witness such beauty all around me and capture it. It is priceless.
Below are some behind the scenes shots. This shot will most definitely make it to large format limited edition print. Have you been to or live in Vancouver? What were some of your favorite views on the city? Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Vancouver at Sunset via Lonsdale Quay – Canon 5D Mark III + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
A while ago I took a quick trip up to Vancouver for the weekend. Ever since I looked up this city I fell in love with this skyline. It is so beautiful and picturesque from every angle. The entire bay offers breathtaking views. The air is always fresh, clean and crisp, often times even when overcast (as it very often is) or raining. This my friend, is Vancouver! I researched this view from Lonsdale Quay Market before arriving and it did not disappoint. The 200mm focal length was a bit on the short side but it allowed me to frame some of the city light reflections on the water as well as the clouds which were less than ideal, but nothing ever works out as planned. The water did however calm down at just the right moment during “magic hour” and the city revealed itself. I was more than ready to capture it!
I shot this panoramic with the Canon 5D Mark III and EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens. It is composed of 9 HDR shots each composed from brackets of 3 extended exposure shots. I did this to normalize the water surface as much as possible and limit ghosting on the surface. The final panorama is about 120 Megapixels. I shot an HDR time lapse of the entire sunset with the 7D Mark II. I used a new technique made possible by 7D Mark II’s speed and image processing power which I hope to document on here at some point.
Below are some behind the scenes shots of my travel setup. The shot above will most likely make it to limited edition print. It still needs a little clean-up work. Please feel free to leave any questions, thoughts, feedback or ideas you may have. As always thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Setup in time for sunset after scouting the Quay
5D Mark III + 70-200/2.8L IS II on the left, 7D Mark II + 17-55/2.8 IS on right, Manfrotto travel tripods.
Magic hour approaching
Bingo! Show time! Extended exposure HDR panoramic.