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Thursday
Nov102011

Exhibition at the ARNICA in Kamloops, BC

Good evening!

Just received the Exhibition Agreement for an upcoming solo show of my work to be held at the ARNICA (Artist Run Center) in Kamloops, BC.

I was contacted by ARNICA a few months ago, right after receiving numerous awards from the IPA (International Photography Awards).

I posted a blog about the importance of getting your work out there to be seen, and here's the case in point. 

It's always an honour to be asked to show my photography, and I am excited and look forward to this exhibition, which will feature both my long exposure work, as well as my "The Tattoo Project' portrait series.

The exhibition opens Friday, January 13th. That's when I will have Joe McNally in town doing several workshops with VPW, but hey when it rains it pours. It'll be a hectic start of the year, but it's very positive stress and I am looking forward to it.

The great thing about working with a small gallery space that is mostly artist run is the fact that they give me a lot of freedom when it comes to how to put together the exhibition. I can choose which images to show, how to frame and present them, and also how to hang them in the space. In addition, I receive support towards the costs of mounting the exhibition, and they aid me in marketing the event as well.

This exhibition will give me a great oppprtunity to print and frame up some of my newest work, and have some fun creatively as to how to present it.

I'll post updates as move along. First challenge to tackle will be the selection process. I want to show some of my most recent work that hasn't been exhibited yet.

More tk...

Saturday
Nov052011

Brigus.psd - From RAW to Final Look:

Hello everyone,

I have been getting numerous emails asking to break down my post production on the image I posted below: The lonely house I photographed in the small village of Brigus, Newfoundland.

So here it goes. From RAW to final look and feel.

This particular image required an extensive (for me) amount of post production. I am one of those photographers who would, given 10 hours, aim to spend at least 9 hours out there in the field photographing. I've had many talks and discussions about the 'value' and 'importance' of post production over the years. Some photographers seem to really enjoy the process, to the point that they would actually prefer to spend the majority of time inside the digital darkroom (rather than out there photographing). One photographer I spoke to even went as far as calling photography a 'necessary evil', something that he doesn't enjoy but has to practice to have 'stuff' to work with in Photoshop.

I know this topic can be heavily debated. And I am bringing it up in this context, because this image here took me about 45 minutes to finish in Photoshop. It is a stitch from 4 separate exposures, each one 4 minutes in length. When you consider some additional time taken to adjust the camera between each shot, one could argue that I have spent about an equal amount of time photographing and doing the post production afterwards.

Without post production I could not have realized my vision for this photograph. What is more, weather conditions weren't what I was looking for and being on a tight schedule I did not have an opportunity to return at a later time to photograph at this location again.

So I counted on some Photoshop techniques. 

For those who are quick to call me 'cheating', consider this: I am of the opinion that Photoshop should not be used to correct mistakes that could have been avoided with better camera technique. But if it is used to realize photographic vision I belief it is not only appropriate but a valuable and necessary tool at the artists disposal. In fact, it's part of taking the picture. When I was standing there wth my camera, I had this final composition and look in mind. And I was confident that the combination of camera technique (long exposure, 4 images to stitch) and post production (BW conversion, sky swap, sharpening and selective burning/dodging) would produce the final look I was aiming for.

So let's see how I shot this image.

I started with taking 4 images, each with 4 minute exposure time, to be merged together as a panorama. I used Autopano Pro Software to stitch these images, but Adobe Photoshop could have been used as well.

Step 1: Shoot 4 images to be merged as Panoarma:

Here's are the RAW files (unadjusted). Exposure time is 4 minutes each:

After these images were stitched in Autopano Pro, I loaded the resulting file into Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Step 2: Crop and open in Photoshop

I then cropped the resulting panoramic image to double square format. The screen-shot below shows how the image looked before I started working in Photoshop. Notice the green color cast that is due to using the ND filters (I could have fixed it but didn't bother since I was looking to go to Black and white anyway).

Step 3: Replace 'boring' sky with dramatic sky

In this image, the sky wasn't as dramatic as I would have liked it to be. So I made a selection of the sky are in Photoshop, and then copied and pasted in a more dramatic sky that was part of another photograph I had taken on this trip. Notice that the color cast is also green, but a bit different so if I wanted to get a color image I would have needed to put more work into color correcting. Since I am aiming for black and white though, I did not worry about this at all.

Step 4: Black and White Conversion using Silver Efex Pro 2

I converted the image to a dramatic black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in inside Photoshop. I actually saved a preset that I was going to use for all images I took during the trip. The starting point for my custom preset was 'Film Noir', which means much elevated contrast, grain and heavy vignetting. I was very pleased with the look and quality, but knew I had to furher refine using Photoshop adjustments.

Step 5: Photoshop adjustments to get you to the final look of your image

As you can see from the screen-shot below, it took me 9 layers to get my image finished.

After I converted to black and white in Silver Efex, I made the following adjustments in Photoshop:

  • Brightened the land and house (but leaving the rest of the image the same)
  • More selective dodging and burning, to bring out details and contrast in the rocks, the house and the clouds
  • I added a vignette on the right
  • I darkened the sky to add even more drama
  • I added sharpness and grain using the Hi-Pass filter

Voila! That's it.

I know I skipped over many details, so please feel free to ask questions by leaving a comment (or two) below. I am working a video screen cast that will take you through this entire edit step-by-step. Will let everyone know when it's done and available.

I still got a lot more image from the trip that need finshing, so watch this blog for updates...

Thank you for your valued feedback and continued patronage,

Marc

 

Tuesday
Nov012011

Goodbye Newfoundland!

It was time to say goodbye. I flew back to Vancouver from St. John's yesterday.

It was an amazing trip, despite the fact that it took nearly 9 hours to fly back home. Canada is a huge country, and Newfoundland even has its very own time-zone (it's a 4.5 hour time difference to Vancouver).

On my last day, the weather gods took pity and the rain stopped. The sun even came out for a few hours. I was on the road and was able to take this image in Brigus, about an hour outside of St. John's.

I was working on this image while on my flight home. It nearly overwhelmed my aging MacBook Pro. It's a stitch from 4 images, shot on the Phase IQ 140. Exposure was 4 minutes. The resulting file is over 60 megapixel, and the .psd file is 1.87 gigabyte (!).

That same house can also be seen in a photo on the official Newfoundland tourism website. While driving along a narrow coastal road, I spotted this location and couldn't resist shooting a long exposure.

This images to me reassembles the magic of Newfoundland. Small communities set amidst rolling hills along a seemingly endless coastline...

Now that I am back I will be working hard this week to complete a selection of images from this trip.

Updates will follow so please stay tuned.

More tk...

Thursday
Oct272011

Yarmouth Lighthouse at Cape Forchu - Times Two:

Good evening everyone,

Another rainy and stormy day today here in Newfoundland, so I was able to do some catching up with my processing.

A few days ago on this trip, I visited the small community of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. According to my guidebook, this lighthouse at Cape Forchu is the second most photographed lighthouse in Nova Scotia. 

I can see why. It's an amazing spot, especially now that most tourists are gone.

I returned twice and was rewarded with some great weather conditions and clouds on the second visit.

Here are two images I shot that morning:

This first image was shot with a Phase One IQ 140 Digital Back. It is a panorama, stitched from 2 images with 40 mega pixel each. So the resulting file is huge. I used a 45mm lens, exposure time of 4 minutes.

This second images was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a Nikon 24mm Tilt/Shift lens. It is a panorama assembled from 4 images, so again it's a very large file. Exposure was 4 minutes each. The Tilt/Shift lens made it possible to retain straight lines on the tall lighthouse, despite shooting from this low elevation.

I liked the reflection...

Let me know which one you prefer. I posted both to draw attention to the importance of composition. I spent about 4 hours in this spot, and actually shot from one more perspective. 

I knew I wanted to end up with a 'double square' composition, that's why I elected to shoot several images for later merge to panorama.

Tomorrow I am off to Twillingate, Newfoundland. Thanks to Keith Mac for pointing me in that direction.

The forecast calls for snow in the afternoon, so I'll be up well before sunrise...

More tk...

Wednesday
Oct262011

Family shots with my iPhone!

Hello everyone,

I arrived in Newfoundland today, another first visit for me on this trip (had never been to Nova Scotia either).

Unfortunately, the weather was real lousy. Stormy wind conditions made for a bumpy flight, and heavy rain and thick fog had me stay in my car most of the day. This is the first day since leaving Vancouver where I didn't even take my camera out of the bag even once. Keeping my fingers crossed for better conditions tomorrow...

I spend most of the day driving. Had lots of time to think, mostly about photography but also life in general. Yes, I even got a bit emotional.

This trip has been the longest (and furthest) I've been away from my family. I miss my wife, Xenija, and my 2 kids, Mila (2.5 years) and Max (4 months) very dearly.

It's a strange thing. On the one hand I know I need to take trips like this to be able to do serious photography. And Xenija is the first to understand and she actually encourages me to go on these 'adventures'.

On the other hand, today was clear evidence that photography can be a very lonely profession. At least sometimes. I know that I usually create my best work on these trips, and there are benefits to travelling (and photographing) alone. I can get up whenever the light is best. I can concentrate ALL my energy on photography. I can ignore all the typical 'distractions' of everyday life (and work) in Vancouver. I can clear my head, get new ideas and fill up on motivation.

When I return, I am usually full of energy and motivation. Even if I would not come back with a single photograph, I would still seek these trips just for the 'life' experiences I get along the way. I have met some fantastic people and seen some incredible places. All because I had a camera in my hands.

The camera has given me the licence to live this fantastic life, and have these rare experiences.

But still I miss my loved ones each time I go away.

So for today's post, I've decided to share some personal photographs I took of my family in the last 4 months. More precisely, most images are of my son, Max Johann Koegel. He was born in July.

The slideshow below starts with Max's birth. All images were shot exclusively on my iPhone.

Max has done a lot of travelling in his short life. Among his adventures was a trip to Las Vegas where he was likely the youngest participant at PhotoShop World. Before he's 6 months, he'll add Germany to his travel list.

Photography is about many things. And somewhere near the top of the list is that it is about memories. Looking at these images, I remind myself how incredible lucky and proud I am to be a father to our 2 beautiful children.

These images are not about f-stops, shutter speeds or ISO's. They are not technically perfect, nor very sharp.

Still they illustrate the power of photography. In a very personal way. I love my iPhone...

Thanks for reading.

More tk...

Sunday
Oct232011

Long Exposure Workshop in Amsterdam - Confirmed!

UPDATE October 27th: As of today, only 3 seats are left available. Be quick!

I am happy to announce that it took less than a week to get enough participants signed up to confirm my Long Exposure Workshop I'll be teaching together with Joel Tjintjelaar in Amsterdam this December!

There are still some seats left available, but you gotta' be quick! Also, our Hotel offers discounted room rates, but you got to book by October 28th to guarantee them.

I am really looking forward to this workshop - cannot wait to meet Joel in person and teach with him. 

I'll be sure to bring some work photographed on my current trip to Atlantic Canada!

More tk...

Sunday
Oct232011

Hello from Nova Scotia!

I am out on a photography trip! Landed in Nova Scotia yesterday, and I'll be onward to Newfoundland in a few days.

Going for a photography trip is always a pleasure but also a huge privilege. As I am typing this sunrise is still an hour away (and of course I shot sunset yesterday). Being on a trip like this let's me focus my energy 100% on photography. Everything else comes second, including my own comfort. I've slept in cars waiting for morning light, and didn't eat all day because I was just so excited to be photographing.

I consider this a privilege because not many people are able to make such a commitment to photography. The guy next to me on the plane couldn't stop repeating how 'kick-ass' and 'cool' my 'job' seemed to him...

As privileged as I feel being able to plan and do these trips, as soon as I sit down in a plane (or car) I begin to miss my family. My love goes out to my wife and kids! Already stopped to buy some gifts (this is day 1) and I know Fido will be very happy about my hefty long distance bill..

I will post a longer essay on the importance of photography trips. Big and small. But for now, I gotta run 'cause the sun is rising on about 50 minutes and I got to be standing on a rock photographing a lighthouse! Hope that Tim Horton's is open early!

Here's a shot I took at Peggy's Cove near Halifax yesterday.

This is a 4 minute exposure shot on an Phase IQ 140 medium format back. 45mm lens. F11 @ISO 50.

This is a quick process using NIK Silver Efex 2 and Photoshop. The long exposure did a great job 'extracting' the many tourists roaming around the structure and the rocks.

This really is a magical place. Cannot wait to take some students there for a workshop in 2012! So many great imaging opportunities.

More tk...

Thursday
Oct202011

New Video: Bring along some Tape!

Just uploaded a new video...take a look and I hope it helps you when shooting long exposures!

Wednesday
Oct192011

Photo-Du-Jour: Sea-Scape in West Vancouver

Hello everyone,

I took my Long Exposure 10 week class out to one of my favorite parks in West Vancouver this morning.

The weather has been 'funny' around here lately. Yeah, I know what you think. Isn't it always grey and raining in Vancouver this time of year? Well, ever since this 10 week course has started, we have run into the challenge of 'too much sun'. And this morning was no exception. Not a cloud in the sky. Even worse, some of the best shooting angles were pointing our lenses directly into the sun. 

I hardly complain about 'too much sun' around Vancouver, but for the next 7 Tuesday's, it would be great to get some clouds -)

Despite the bright sun, everyone was up for the challenge. I myself only had time for a single shooting angle, but wanted to share the result with all of you:

This image was a 4 minute exposure. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark II using a 16mm lens. 16 stops of ND. ISO 160. This is a crop from the original RAW file. Compositionally, I really like the rocks visible in the clear waters in the foreground. They make for a nice leading line. I couldn't really change the perspective much as the sun (and lens flare) was already creeping in from the left.

This image was processed in Slver Efex and Photoshop CS5.

The image above is the same composition and frame, but processed in color. Yes I know. Marc shooting color? Really? He must be nuts...

Yes I might be. But I just couldn't resist trying. And I do like the effect.

It would be much appreciated if you could leave me some comments on this. Let me know if your prefer the color or B+W version.

And here's a behind-the-scenes shot using my iPhone. Just so you all get an idea what the original scene looked like.

Finally, I can't resist sharing one more image with you. This was shot on the Hartblei H-Cam with the Canon 24mm Tilt Shift lens. Captured about a week or so ago. Same location, just about 100 meters to the east.

Yes I know this is color as well. I just let you figure that one out by yourselves....

I hope now you all understand why I was hoping for some clouds today. This capture was 20 seconds exposure time. It was windy and wavy that day, and the clouds were moving extremely fast. So you'll see, depending on the conditions, exposures of 'only' 20 seconds can get you some interesting long exposure effects....

More tk...

Monday
Oct172011

New Work uploaded at www.500px.com!

Hello everyone,

just uploaded some more images to http://500px.com/bulbexposures.

For those not familiar with 500px, I belief it's one of the very best photo sharing sites around. Well worth the look.

I never thought I would upload my images anywhere else on the web but to my own personal website. Along came this service and convinced me otherwise. A great networking opportunity and generally high caliber of work. I like their editorial picks, something flickr really could take advantage of! There's lots of great photography up on flickr, only trouble is finding it....

Only potential negative thing I see with 500px is their point system for 'rating' images.

This could threaten the existence of a positive community with generally supportive feedback. I know several camera clubs that have abandoned point ratings and they usually emerge as better communities as a result.

If you a minute, I would apprceiate if you'd take a look and leave me some feedback.

Thanks for taking a look. More tk....