At the End of the Rainbow

Thunderstorms in Florida in the summer is a daily occurrence. Nothing unusual. This storm was a little bigger than usual as there were flood warnings throughout town. Just before sunset, however, it let up a little bit, enough for the sun to peak through before setting. And then this magic happened…

Rainbow after the storm

Rainbow after the storm. Nikon D600 with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S lens @ 14mm focal length, 1/80 sec, f/4.0, iso 200.

Read on to see how I post-processed the raw image to get this final result…

Continue reading

Architecture: Sacred Heart Cathedral

One of the nice photographic discoveries I made this year was Sacred Heart Catholic Church in neighboring Tampa, Florida. It is a beautiful cathedral right in the heart of downtown Tampa. Albeit small, it has much of fine ornamental features and intricate details for which much larger cathedrals are famous.

click to see larger images

Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Taken with Nikon D600 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S lens @ 14mm focal length, 1/500 sec, f/8, iso 200.

Christmas decorations still adorned the altar and rest of the cathedral in early January.

View of altar and cupola. Nikon D600 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S lens @ 14mm focal length, 1/160 sec, f/8, iso 2000, handheld.

Continue reading

Architecture: Florida Hospital East Orlando

The thought of hospitals conjures up all kinds of memories and emotions. For me, I am reminded of emergency rooms and urgent care and anxiety; birthing rooms and newborn nurseries and the overwhelming excitement and love for my newborn children, nieces and nephews; operating rooms and intensive care units and the worries that come with such situations. Surely, hospitals and the attending physicians, nurses, staff, and volunteers play an important part in our lives.

As buildings, hospitals are very functional. Some even have architectural flair. While function take precedence over form, there is still form. For example, take the new addition to East Orlando Florida Hospital. The new building is built with a gentle curve, serving as an architecture point of interest for the facility and a compelling architecture photographic subject.

Florida Hospital East Orlando is architected with a gentle curve.

Florida Hospital East Orlando is architected with a gentle curve. Taken with Nikon D600 with Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S lens @ 14mm focal length, 1/80 sec, f/13, iso 100.

In the shot above, I composed the flower bed into the bottom of the frame to give the image some foreground interest. Serendipitously, though it was late morning, the sun was positioned behind the building, leaving the building evenly lit with indirect light. I framed the sun into the shot to add a sun flare that diagonally stretches across the image (as if to remind us of the flowers’ need of the morning light). I cropped the original image using Adobe Lightroom with a cinematic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.4:1 for an epic effect, re-composing the flower bed in the bottom third of the frame (using the composition rule of thirds). Other Lightroom settings included temp 5333, +0.33 exposure compensation, recovery 100, contrast +50, vignetting -10. View the larger 1200 x 500 pixel image.

Read on to see more images of this unique hospital building…

Continue reading

4th of July 2013 Fireworks

Fireworks. A 4th of July tradition. An opportunity to photograph an “eye candy” visual event. Here are some photographs from last night’s fireworks show at my Avalon Park community in Southeast Orlando, Florida.

4th of July fireworks

Opening salvos. Nikon D600 with Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S lens @ 10 seconds, f/13, 28mm focal length, iso 100, and tripod.

The community puts on a great event every year, and fireworks twice a year — 4th of July and New Year’s celebration.

Continue reading

Happy Vietnamese New Year (Chúc Mừng Năm Mới)

February 10 marks the Vietnamese New Year. Many of you may know it better as Chinese New Year, which is the same idea as we follow the same lunar year calendar. To celebrate the New Year, Vietnamese communities usually put on a fair, called Hội Tết. This year, I went to the Hội Tết produced by the St. Philipphe Phan Van Minh Catholic Parish of Orlando, Florida during the weekend of January 26-27. It was great event. There was a lot of hard work put into this event by the Parish volunteers. Here are select pictures from the traditional Vietnamese opening fireworks and lucky dragon dance.

Lucky dragon dance (mua lan)

Lucky dragon dance (mua lan). Nikon D600 w/ Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AF-S @ 1/4000, f/2, iso 100.

Continue reading

Adobe offers free Creative Suite 2 download

Adobe is offering the complete Adobe Creative Suite 2 as a free download, probably to encourage photographers and graphics artists to try the Adobe CS2 application suite which includes a Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. While CS2 is considered archiac as it was originally released in 2005 for Windows 2000 and XP operating systems, it may still be worth a try for the those uninitiated with Adobe Photoshop. Download your free copy here for both PC and Mac computers.

Adobe Creative Suite 2

Adobe Creative Suite 2

Dreaming of a Bokeh Christmas

With individual members of my family traveling before the holidays, it was not possible to take a complete family of five group portrait for this year’s electronic greeting card, so I opted to take individual portraits in front of the Christmas tree over a period of several weeks. With a common theme and background, I should be able to assemble a coherent collage. As I was preparing my “studio”, I was lacking a willing volunteer/model so I can set my camera and off-camera flash settings. For the sake of progress, I volunteered myself as the model and used a wireless remote shutter trigger. After numerous tries and adjustments to my placement and camera settings, I ended up with this self-portrait.

Bokeh Christmas self-portrait

Bokeh Christmas self-portrait.
Nikon D5000 with Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens in manual exposure @ 1/200 sec, f/2, iso 320, TTL flash with -1 EV, and manual focus.

Read on to see how I capture this self-portrait or “selfie”…

Continue reading

Mamarazzi: a must-have book for the camera-toting mamas (and papas)

Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids

Mamarazzi: Every Mom's Guide to Photographing Kids

Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids (cover)

Author: Stacy Wasmuth

Paperback | 288 pages | 1st Edition | copyright 2011
list $29.99 | $16.80 at

Rating: 5/5 stars – Recommended!

ISBN: 978-0470769102

If you are a mother (or expectant mother) who wants to (or plan to) take better than the average snapshots of your children, this is the book for you. It is written for the novice point-and-shoot photographer who wants more than the typical snapshots, frequently fraught with over-exposure, under-exposure, or red-eyes and washed-out deer-in-the-headlights look of flash photos. Author Stacy Wasmuth targeted mothers who wants something more than low quality, boring snapshots and are willing to put in a little time to learn the basics of photography.

Continue reading

Tutorial: Capturing Dimly Lit Scenes Without a Flash, Using High ISO Settings

When Flash Just Won’t Do

In dimly lit situations, a flash unit is often used to light up a scene.  But in some venues, flash photography is strongly discouraged or forbidden. Worse, some venues are too large for the flash unit to work effectively (remember, light falls off with the square of the distance).

High ISO shot of a high school band concert

High ISO shot of a high school band concert.
Nikon D5000 and Nikon 18-55mm kit lens, 1/60 sec @ f/4.5, iso 3200, no flash.

What are we photographers supposed to do? Read on for some tips…

Continue reading

Composition Technique: Lead the Viewer Through the Picture

One way to add visual interest in your pictures is to compose the photograph such that the subject or major elements lead the viewer through the photograph, as if the viewer’s eyes are walking through the photograph.

Single Subject Draws the Eyes Through the Frame

One way of achieving this effect is to choose a subject that can grab the viewer’s attention and draw their eyes into the frame, through the frame, and then lead it out of the frame. An example of this technique is the picture of the guard posts and safety chain.

Guard posts and chain

Guard posts and chain: using the subject as a compositional element to lead the viewer’s eyes into the picture, through it, and then out. Late afternoon at Torrey Pines Gliderport, La Jolla, CA. Nikon D5000 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S kit zoom lens.

The chain and closest guard post draw the viewer’s eyes in from the bottom right corner. The viewer’s eyes follow the chain up through the frame and to the left, then back to the right as the eyes continue to draw upwards, and finally out of the frame near the top right corner.

Read on to see another technique…

Continue reading