Monkey seemed like he needed a friend, so one week ago we went and adopted another kitten who wears cute little mittens everywhere she goes. She is a lot more photogenic, cuddly, and about half the size of our other kitten, but she holds her own when they play fight together.
Tonight is kind of sad since it may be the last time that I ever make it into the city of Adana before I leave for Japan. A lot of good times were had the first time I lived here since it is where I met, dated, and married my wife. Adana feels like such a foreign land compared to any other place I have ever been and I really love it. The crazy shit you see people do here is always entertaining as well! Anyways, me and my buddy found this bridge underpass and used my SB-600 light to create the shadow of me and then painted the scene with green and blue LED key chain lights.
I was able to play around with a Nikon 105/2.8 VR macro lens today. I thought the AF was terrible for normal shots, but the macro performance was really amazing and it also produces some of the nicest bokeh I have seen from a lens. This first shot was shot using the lens and 36mm Kenko macro tube stacked onto it. We set up a flash just to the left of the lens in Commander Mode. It is incredibly difficult to get the iris in focus, you will need many tries! I also recommend shining an LED light into your subjects eye to help aid you when you manually focus the lens, which is a must. It also helps to bring out the iris by using a gel on your flash that is the same color as the iris you are shooting.
PS- If you don’t want your blood vessels to grow out towards the outside of your eye, don’t wear your daily wear contacts for 3 weeks straight before taking them out. Stupid kids!
Here is some of that creamy-dreamy bokeh I was talking about. This shot was without the macro tube.
Mt. Erciyes is a bit of a weird resort compared to what I am use to in the States. Each group of chairlifts and rope tows are owned by different people, so even though you can see 5 or 6 lifts nearby, you have to choose which one or two that you would like to ride and pay for a pass that is only good for a specific lift or two. Doppelmayr! How I have missed you!
I was having a lot of fun skiing for the 2nd time in 7 years. Last year I felt like a disaster, but this year was different for some reason. I think it might be the kebabs and sahlep? Anyways, I didn’t care to get my camera equipment until near the end of the day, so it was getting pretty dark by the time I started to shoot. You can also kind of see the runs that were pretty much 50/50 rock snow, not the pure snow like found on the K-12, but.. If something gets in your way, turn.
For the last run I locked my 50mm on and loaded my SB-600 and tried to get some shots of my friends as they were trying to breakout of beaterdom. It would have been nice to have my 70-200 to get in a bit closer, but I was a little weary of breaking my leg on a rock, smashing my head into the dirt, and having 50 pounds of camera reconstruct my face. Here is Dean showing me the dangers I speak of.
I can’t even see his upper body in this shot!
Messing around with my Kenko extension tubes I bought last month. This is the 20mm and 12mm tubes stacked onto my 50/1.8. I have played with these once before in Thailand and realized quickly that you really need to have an external or ring flash. So I setup a cheap tripod with my SB-600 firing down almost straight down on top of the Baklava.
Another macro shot, this time of the rear sprocket of my very neglected mtn. bike. Again, 32mm tubes and the 50/1.8 were used with the off camera flash firing directly above. Gotta love the Manfrotto tripod with articulating arm to get into your subject and still remain steady. Now I just need to go find one of those gigantor centipedes that were setting up shop inside my house over the summer; would be an interesting subject.
During a recent business trip to Germany a group of my counterparts that work all over Europe were able to head out to the quaint village of Reichenbach to visit a well-known schnapps distillery to get liquored up and eat some tasty German food also known as schnitzel. The distillery is called Brennerei Mischler & Raudonat which can be found here.
When I walked in I was surprised at how many different kinds of liquors they had for sale. I was expecting to find a very extensive distillery in the basement somewhere, but this was actually all they needed to get the job done, and I mean they made every kind of schnapps you could think of such as jalapeño schnapps, so this must be one impressive machine!
The food was extremely good as well. Stop by if you are ever in the Rheinland-Pfalz area! And like that, I am off to Thailand for 2 weeks in about 1 hour!
Even if I vehemently abhorred Istanbul, which I do not, I have to go back. I am on a mission to get the perfect shot of these glass mosaic lamps. During my first visit years ago, I failed with my point and shoot; I thought this time would be different armed with more knowledge and better gear, yet I still failed to get the shot I had envisioned. This is my best attempt, but I learned that a large depth of field is absolutely key to the result that I am after. I went in with f2.8 and found the bokeh way too distracting for me. There is just too much going on to tease the eye with such a large amount of blur.
One evening we went searching for the Spice Bazaar and thought we found it. I was confused if this was actually a dog and cat food spice bazaar because there was bin after bin of food for furry critters. We later found out that the bazaar was next door and may have been closed on Sundays, but I still felt silly. Special Kedi Maması means= Special Kitty Food. Köpek= Dog. Yummy!
When we did find the Spice Bazaar, I went all out in my Turkish Delight sampling as I tried to find the best flavors to use as a gift.. The best advice in a situation concerning Turkish Delight is to start slow and build up an iron gut that can support the sheer weight of the concoction as every piece feels like it weighs about 1 pound once it has reached your stomach. Honey is one of the main ingredients for Turkish Delight, so I present you a picture of a jar of honey found in a store overflowing with Turkish Delight.
I had a three-day weekend and headed up to Istanbul for the 1st time in over three years. The first time I went with a good friend and my wife whom I was just beginning to date at the time. We had an amazing time and I would easily say that Istanbul is only 2nd to Prague when it comes to big cities. If I was offered a job there that could support me and my wife, I would take it in a second and I am sure my wife would probably back me up on that statement as well.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), completed in 1616… Not even the coolest mosque in Istanbul. I should have a few acceptable shots of the coolest that I will post on the blog sooner than later.
And this is inside of the Sultan Ahmed. I didn’t bring a tripod so I had to hand hold and crank up the ISO to 4000 for this 5XP DRI shot @ f2.8. The corners are out of focus, but usually high ISO shots will turn out extremely noisy as the HDR and DRI process seems to amplify every little spec of noise. I was highly impressed with the results this D700 is turning out at such high ISO though.
Here I am trying to trying to venture out and take shots with human subjects in them for a change. Of course, Istanbul has all types of people since it is the gateway to Europe. I really dig the Middle Eastern dress that you find, but I am typically most shy about taking pictures of those who are wearing that kind of traditional dress for some reason. I’ll have to steal a few from behind I guess.
And 2 guards that were stationed at the entrance of the Topkapı Palace. I knew they wouldn’t care if I took their picture because they were unflinching statues until they were called out of their pose. I didn’t see them blink, instead they had a guy go up to their faces with a tissue to wipe away what was most likely crumbling stone out of the eyelids that were a result from such seriousness.
These two were good. I have never seen such an intense pose held so well that you wouldn’t be able to tell if they were wax figures or not.
Lots more to come. I am excited to go through and start processing the rest of my shots!
On the weekend me and a buddy (whom I just turned onto the Darkside with a Nikon D90) rented a car for a day to visit some nearby sights. The Sabancı Mosque is probably the largest attraction to be found in Adana. It is the largest mosque in Turkey and can accommodate 28,500 people at one time!
The accompanying park has got to be about 3 km long and is very ornately decorated with all kinds of statues, fountains, gardens, playground equipment, and plenty of places for a picnic.
There were a lot of people out when we first arrived, and let me tell you about being a foreigner rolling up to a park in Southern Turkey… You become the center of that world. Everyone wants to look at you or talk to you to practice their English or just find out what in the hell these 2 white boys are doing in Southern Turkey. I was a little apprehensive about rolling up with all of my photo equipment because I already knew what to expect, but I was totally surprised to find that when they see all the equipment, especially the 70-200 hand cannon, they immediately want you to take their pictures.
Almost none of them even wanted to ask if they could see the picture, instead they were totally surprised when I offered to show it to them on the camera LCD. They didn’t even try and ask me to email them a copy of the shot. So basically this is like free practice for someone timid about asking to take portraits.
Hell yeah! This kid below was so excited that he literally wet himself. Well, maybe he did it before he saw me, but I didn’t even notice until I got home and looked through my shots. I had to cut out about half the picture and clone some extra shirt to spare the poor kid some embarrassment.
This last shot isn’t the most interesting shot in the world, but what is interesting is that this was taken at ISO 4 million (4,000 for non-sarcastic types) and still looks pretty damn acceptable and let me take this at 1/60 hand held in the middle of the night @ 105mm! I did run this through Noise Ninja, another great little program.
Anyways, I need to keep going back to practice portraits because I have learned it is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, especially when using my external flash. I have figured out that the exposure meter is basically worthless and trial and error or experience is what you really need to just get the exposure right.
Tumlu Castle is an interesting castle. It situated above the small town of Dumlu and can be seen from both Anavarsa Castle and Snake Castle. It basically looks like someone built a castle on top of a single boob out in the middle of a large plain. Here it is from the bottom, although it doesn’t really show how much this little hill sticks out around such a large flat area.
This is the second time I have visited Tumlu and so far I have been awed by the dark blue hues of the sky with each visit. It is almost like you are looking off into the edge of space. Today was no different, the castle is pretty cool, but the sky contrasted against the fields is what really drew my interest. I am not sure if the fact that you can see the curvature of the Earth has anything to do with such dark blue skies here or not? But that curve in the photo certainly isn’t all from my lens.
And here is yours truly trying to figure out how to use my SB-600 flash. I am a complete noob when it comes to properly using this thing. It took me about 5 tries to get the exposure right for the outside window, the inside of the castle room, and myself. I need to post a picture of me every once in a while or my lovely wifey in Japan is going to forget how magnificent I am! 😉