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Long Exposure Workshop in Amsterdam Announced!

For the first time, my Fine-Art Long Exposure Workshop is offered in Europe. Join us in Amsterdam this December 10th and 11th, 2011.

Photographs above copyright Joel Tjintjelaar

Award-winning Photographers Joel Tjintjelaar and Marc Koegel will join forces for this workshop!

I am really excited to be working with Joel. If you haven't seen his captivating photography, make sure to check out his site. Here's a link to his work on 500px.com. Take a look today!

Photographs above copyright by Marc Koegel

To see all the details about this workshop, please make sure to vist the detailed workshop description page on http://vancouverphotoworkshops.com/workshops/long-exposure-workshop-amsterdam-2011.php. The first 5 people who register get a 50 Euros discount off regular tuition fees!

Hope to see you there!


Out there with the Hartblei HCam B1:

Well you certainly don't see this camera everyday. That's what I thought when Walter from B3K Digital first showed me this 'machine' earlier this year. And about 2 weeks ago he was kind enough to ship it out to Vancouver for me to give it a thorough test. How could I say no?

The Hartblei HCam - B1 is a strange beast, but fulfills a very interesting niche, especially interesting for architectural and landscape photographers (like me).

The camera itself is 'just' a body, but the uniqueness is the ability to mount 35mm lenses on the front, while mounting medium format digital back on the rear.

In these images of the camera, you can see that I am using a Canon 24mm Tilt/Shift lens, and on the rear I have a Phase One P45+ Digital back (39 megapixels). With a sensor size significantly larger than even full-frame DSLR's, I get an extreme wide-angle perspective. And I can use up to 12mm of shift! That's really incredible. No other camera system I know of can deliver this.

So what kind of images can you get with this camera? Well let's have a look:

I wanted to show you this architectural image, because it shows the full capabilities of this camera system. I am standing across the street from this approx. 20 story building here in Vancouver. It's our public library. The lens is shifted to the maximum of 12mm (which helps keep a natural perspective with straight lines up the buildings).

I am shooting this long exposure at 6 minutes (using 13 stops of ND filters on the front of the lens). Aperture was F11, ISO 50.

I will post an in-depth review of this camera, together with some comparison images I shot with a Canon 5d Mark II (and the same 24mm lens) in the next few days.

I am rather excited about the visual opportunities that I can see myself exploring with this camera. It let's me create compositions that I am hoping will convey how urban settings feel to me. Rarely do we stop to admire architecture and the urban environment, and this is especially true for familiar surroundings. The places we live and work in on a daily basis. The long exposure reveals evidence of life by way of people/traffic movement, while the wide perspective shows this all in the context of the larger urban environment. 

Stay tuned. More tk...


ND Filter Color Cast:

Good morning everyone!

I was out on the weekend shooting some long exposures around downtown Vancouver with a private student. Since there were only 2 of us, I brought my camera to do some shooting as well (images to be posted soon). While we were out, I thought it would be a great idea to test a new ND filter I had just received.

Ever since I started shooting long exposures I have been using ND filters made by B+W. This is also the brand I most recommend my students buy. A few months back, I discovered an ND filter made by Tiffen which I thought looked interesting. It is a 7 stop ND filter (ND 2.1) combined with an Infrared cut filter (IR).

Here's a picture of it:

So what's the use of an added IR cut filter? Well, let's take a look at the 2 images below:

As you can see above, the metadata on both exposures above is (almost) identical. The camera was set to automatic white balance for both exposures. The image on the right was shot with B+W Filters, while the image on the right was shot using the new Tiffen ND Filter.

The magenta color cast found in the image on the left is a frequent 'side-effect' of using strong ND filtration (we used 16 stops of ND filtration in both images above). If you're going to convert to black and white, then this color cast may not be a big deal. I have been dealing with it for years, and have accepted it as a common side-effect that is almost negligible once I am converting to black and white.

But what if you want to experiment shooting long exposures in color? Then, the Tiffen Filter may be a very convenient and valuable tool, saving you from attempting to color correct the magenta out of your RAW files.

The images above demonstrate that Tiffen has made a great product here. Only negative as far as I can tell is that this filter seems to be offered in only one strength: 7 stops of ND. So I combined it with a HOYA ND 400x, which is equivalent to roughly 9 stops. This combination gives a total of 16 stops, same as combining a 10 stop and 6 stop B+W filter(s).

Why the magenta cast with 'regular' ND filters?

For those interested in the technical details, the reason that most ND filters cause a magenta cast is the fact that they are only 'neutral' across the visible spectrum of light (but they let infrared light pass through). When shooting film this is not problem, as only a very limited number of film stock is sensitive to infrared light. But most digital cameras are sensitive to infrared light, so using a regular ND filter causes infrared light to built up on the sensor (despite most DSLR's having an Infrared cut filter installed over the sensor). Adding the IR cut filter to the ND component on the Tiffen filter, helps prevent this infrared light built-up, which also prevents the magenta color cast from forming.

Give the Tiffen a try sometime!


Mendocino Long Exposure Shot!

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Greg Gorman to come down to his famous workshop he teaches in Mendocino, California. Well, twist my rubber arm. Of course I am in!

Greg teaches portrait and nude photography, but I couldn't resist dragging some ND filters down there as well. Gotta be prepared. Just in case. The weather was amazing, meaning mostly too nice for doing long exposures. But I did get a chance to do this shoot along the stormy coastline, just north of Mendocino.

This double-square format image was assembled (stitched) from 2 separate exposures. Exposure was 1024 seconds at F10. ISO 50. 16 stops of ND filtration.

More tk...


My work wins 15 Honorable Mentions at IPA 2011

Hello everyone,

I got an email last night from a gallery up in Kamloops, BC inquiring if I would be interested in showing my work with them in 2012. The email did not mention where they found out about me and my work. So after thinking about it for a while, I thought maybe the results from IPA are in. And sure enough they were.

I am happy to report that 15 of my images won Honorable Mentions.

Out of all my submissions, I am most excited about my recent 'Canada Prairie Series' receiving this award. I have been working on this still evolving body of work for the past 2 years. Below you can see a screen shot of what I submitted to IPA:

The main Honorable Mention page is here (scroll around for some amazing work) and individual galleries for each work are linked below.

The International Photography Awards is a sister-effort of the Lucie Foundation, where the top three winners are announced at the annual Lucie Awards ceremony. The awards event will be held at the Lincoln Center in New York on October 24, 2011, before returning to Los Angeles in 2012 in celebration of the 10-year anniversary. Over 8,000 submissions from 90 countries were received for the 2011 International Photography Awards with over 70 jurors, the largest to date. The Foundation’s mission is to honor master photographers, discover new and emerging talent, and promote the appreciation of photography. IPA is dedicated to recognizing contemporary photographers’ accomplishments in this specialized and highly visible competition. Visit www.photoawards.com for more details.


Student Work!

I am very proud of the work my talented students do. So I've decided to add a new category to this blog that highlights such work. In addition to showcasing, I will also add my feedback and even some post production tips and tricks (if they are appropriate).

Today I would like to share an image shot by Elizabeth Gray. Elizabeth was kind enough to send me her original RAW capture, along with her black and white conversion done in Adobe Lightroom.

Here you can see the original RAW file. Exposure data was 125 seconds @F8 and ISO 200. Elizabeth used a 12mm wide-angle lens and a total of 16 stops of ND filtration for this image.

You can see clearly the magenta cast effect caused by the use of the strong ND filtration. 

Elizabeth worked on this original RAW image in Adobe Lightroom, and here's what she came up with. This image was shown in class for our critique session:

You can see a big difference from the original RAW capture here. Elizabeth did the following while working on her image:

  • Crop the image to square format
  • Convert to black and white using Adobe Lightroom
  • Adjusted the exposure and contrast

When I looked at the image for the first time, I fell in love with the composition. I congratulated Elizabeth for her eye, and how effectively she had placed the 2 rocks in the foreground within her frame. I also like the leading line that is continued by the wooden pilings, and the dramatic clouds in the sky. Getting her camera almost into the water (aka very low) was key for the success of this image and composition.

I decided to take this image and show Elizabeth, as well as the rest of the students, what I would do to 'finish' this image and make it pop even more. I opened it in Adobe Photoshop, and here's the final result after I spend about 10 minutes working:

Here's what I have done in Photoshop:

Let's take a closer look at my layer palette:

So here's what I have done, and why I decided to do it:

  • I sharpened the beach and rocks in the foreground (but not the moving clouds)
  • I lightened the water (dodged) and did so more strongly towards the center of the composition
  • I've added a vignette (darkened the image corners) which keeps the viewer's eye inside the composition
  • Finally, I've added some local burning and dodging to bring out more contrast in the rocks and clouds

All of these changes were done to make the image more effective, as well as more easily readable by viewers. By adjusting brightness and contrast, and also by sharpening selectively, photographers can 'steer' the viewers eye towards what's important within their images. In this case, I thought the rocks and wooden pilings needed to become a stronger focal point for the viewer to focus on. 

Note that most of these changes could have been done in Adobe Lightroom as well, but Photoshop allows for greater precsion and control.

Let me know what you think of this. And thanks again to Elizabeth for letting me share her outstanding image.


Astoria (Oregon Coast) Long Exposure Workshop

A few weeks after taking my long exposure workshop on the road to Calgary (Alberta) it was time to leave Vancouver yet again for another adventure.

This time, I headed towards the Oregon Coast. Astoria was one of the locations I came to when I was just getting into long exposure photography. It's a beautiful area with an abundance of shooting opportunities for long exposure photographers.

The workshop group was smaller compared to Calgary, but participants had come in from all over the USA (one as far as Florida). We spend the weekend photographing the many sites around town, most of which are old industrial remains, including old wooden docks, pilings and even an old wooden barn built out in the Columbia River.

I remember taking the my first digital long exposure image here back in 2007:

This time around, we've found a lighthouse that I actually had missed on my previous trips to the area. North Head Lighthouse is part of Cape Disappointment Park.

Here's an image shot on my Phase One Camera. Exposure was 512 seconds @ F5.6 and ISO 50. I used a total of 16 stops of ND filtration. Shot with a 45mm lens. The image was adjusted using Adobe Photoshop and NIK Multimedia's Silver Efex Pro 2 Plugin.

I will be back to this area teaching a workshop in May 2012. Stay tuned for more details posted soon...


Calgary Long Exposure Workshop!

What an amazing week I've had. On August 10th I packed the Van and headed to Calgary, Alberta. This was to be the very first long exposure workshop taught outside of Vancouver, and my expectations, as well as my anticipation, was high.

I arrived in Calgary 2 days later, after taking some time to do some more local scouting for shooting locations suitable for the workshop. I was very excited to show my class my 'stomping grounds', the locations where I have been shooting the 'Canada Prairie Series' for the past 2 years.

We've had a great 2 days. I've met some amazing people, and already know that I'll be back very soon. Calgary got some very talented and motivated photographers!

Here's a photo of our workshop group, on-location at an old wooden grain elevator. 

I cannot wait until I get back to the area again. More tk...


Chocolate Polaroid!

Something a bit different today.

As you may know, I still shoot film on a regular basis. In fact, I just loaded an old Nikon F100 with some Delta 3200 film I found in the fridge. Will be keeping it around the house this summer and photograph the family with it. Haven't shot 35mm for a while, should be interesting. Always loved the look of that film, especially when enlarged. Amazing grain and acutance.

Anyway, going just slightly off topic here. What I meant to write about here was some work I shot on Chocolate Polaroid Film. This film was recently re-released by the Impossible Project. I found at our local pro shop, bought a single pack and tried it.

I was hooked instantly.

So when I took a trip out to the Prairies, I took along this film as well. I shot most images both ways, film and digital. The long exposure really jumped the contrast on the Chocolate Polaroids. I biased the exposure on the sky, which yielded some nice dark and moody foregrounds.

I don't know of anyone else doing long exposures with this film. It has a very unique look I think.

Take a look and let me know what you think. More to come!



Today is (soon was) the due-date for our baby son! So i have been thinking about what family really and truly means for most of the day...

Mila, our first born, will be a big sister very soon. And I am so incredibly excited to see her take on that role!

Growing up as a single child, I don't have personal experience or memories of what it means to have a sibling. My wife Xenija has a big sister, and I know the two share a very special bond that probably only sisters can fully understand and grasp.

I am very close to my parents. Incredibly close. So close that they are visiting us for a full 6 months this year. And I mean visit as in staying with us in our small (1500 sqft) house.

Soon, there will be 4 adults, one toddler and a baby sharing those small rooms. You gotta get on well with each other if you can survive 6 months of living together like this. We certainly have our challenges, but we wouldn't be family if we wouldn't be able to overcome them together. I am very proud of our relationship, and the respect and understanding we have for each other.

My wife Xenija is the love of my life! Our second child will only deepen this love I never thought I could feel before I've met Xenija. Xenija has not only made me the man I am today, she actually has made me a better man! Her love and support has made me overcome many obstacles in life, and I couldn't be happier seeing her become the mother of our soon-to-arrive son.

I've taken some time today to look back at photographs I've taken since Mila was born in March 2009. Initially, I planned to select a few and post them along with these words, but I quickly realized that there's no way I could only select a few 'favorites'. So I decided to make a small sideshow movie from the first 100 images that caught my eye.

I don't claim to have included all my favorites, nor images from each and every event I deem important. This is just a loose collection, but this doesn't diminish the importance of the images shown.

When Mila was born, I soon realized how much I had been neglecting taking PERSONAL photographs. A child is an automatic favorite subject for most parents, and I soon realized that i was on my way to 'giving Jay Maisel a run for his money'. For those who know Jay, he is not only one of the greatest Photographers I have ever met, he also takes the most incredible images of his daughter Amanda.

Having had the honour of several meetings with Jay, it was those personal photographs that made a lasting impression on me. Since becoming a father for the first time, my appreciation and understanding of said personal work has reached a new level.

Photography can mean many things to people, but there's a 'special' place reserved in my heart for such images I have taken of my family and my daughter Mila in particular. Those images help me remember the times and experiences we had. They not only help to keep those memories alive, they also help me appreciate life and its special moments more. They help me gain strength when I am feeling down. They make me laugh at the end of a frustrating day!

So without further ado, here's the video sideshow I just made today. Note that many of the images were shot on an iPhone, which may reduce the quality but certainly not the impact!


 Thanks for reading and watch this space for any news regarding the arrival of baby #2!