Saturday, November 14, 2009

Morning Landscape Potpourri + a Sculpture

I've been doing a lot of reading and very little shooting lately. I got up early this morning to try another sunrise. I picked Stanley Park as the location, hoping to get the sunrise over Coal Harbour and Downtown Vancouver. After parking the car and starting along the seawall, I noticed a barge housing a large set of illuminated Olympic Rings (to my delight). This would be my subject.

It wasn't long after picking a location and setting up that 1, 2, and then 3 other photographers showed up. They were sporting some really fancy equipment, and looked like they knew their stuff. Although it's a little discouraging to think that I wasn't being original, I also took this as a sign that I was clever (or lucky) in choosing a good spot at a good time.

I experimented with a bunch of different compositions at pretty much every focal length to see what worked. The photo below, taken at about 6:50AM with a 28mm lens, is my favourite.

I noticed how quickly the light and mood changed. Reviewing my photos, I found as the sky got brighter, it also got grayer, the colourful reflections in the water diminished, and I generally found the cityscape to look less exciting under daylight than when illuminated with its own artificial light.

The following shot was taken looking the other direction (towards North Vancouver), with my 20 year old Nikkor 50mm lens.

After getting home and looking at the photos in more detail, I was amazed just how good this lens is. I had taken similar shots with my 18-55mm and 55-200mm zooms, and none of them comes close to looking as nice as this one does. The details are great, and I think the starbursts on the specular highlights look really cool. I should use this lens more often.

On the way out of the park, I saw some moored container ships. I wanted to fit as many of them in the frame as possible, without making them too small. The following photo, taken with a 66mm lens, is my favourite composition. I adjusted the tone curve to achieve maximum contrast in what was an original with a very small tonal range. I also heavily desaturated the photo (there's still a bit of colour left) to give it a mechanical, industrial feel.

Finally, I stopped in the west end at a public display of sculptor Yue Min Jun's Laughing Figures. I wanted to emphasize the rough, rusty texture of the metal. I used my 50mm and shot at f/1.8 and ISO 400 so that I could use a fast shutter speed. I ended up with many different shots that I quite like. Most of them feature a pure white background from blowing out the overcast sky, but for some reason I really like the out of focus apartment building as a background in the following photo.

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