Intentional Camera Movement
Well, on coffee and a lack of sleep anyway. We boarded Tinkerbelle (one of the many things to like about Virgin Atlantic – they name their ‘planes like WWII bombers and this 747-400 was named after a fairy) for the 8 hour flight to Orlando. After much immigration, luggage, car pickup, instructions to retrieve key for house pickup, calls to rental company for 40 minutes after they gave us the wrong codes for the key safe.. we rolled into the Magic Kingdom at 2am UK time after dropping the luggage at the house. I was pretty punch drunk by then and the whole place took on the aspect of some bizarre dream…. I decided to try and make some alternative views of Disney by night, using long exposures….
A couple of weeks ago, we all set off to Orlando, Florida – to “do the parks”. It’s a festival of queuing: queue-fest 2016. Queue technology is in full swing with “fast passes” and apps with queue times that will optimise your queuing. The queuing is punctuated with 2 minutes of being thrown about or on a tour of some animated display. It’s not my thing – but we were there for the kids – and they had a whale of a time – which is all that matters.
On Sunday though we drove out to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Centre. When we flew into Orlando over the east coast of Florida you could clearly see the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on the flat landscape below. Not surprising as it’s the biggest single storey building in the world. This is where they assembled the Saturn V rockets for the Apollo programme and prepped space-shuttles for launch. We took the tour out to the Saturn V centre (and more on that later) and our driver, Steve just happens to mention that there’s a launch on the following Thursday probably around 8:37am, and we might all like to come back for that.
Hung out in Piccadilly Circus for 2-3 hours last Wednesday evening – and after shooting the obligatory shots of the advertising screens, I wanted to get some of the traffic rush, which contrasts with the static nature of most of the people here – the statue of Eros is just covered in people. The light from the ad boards lights up the building on the left and is reflected in it’s windows – so you need to wait for the right advert to play to get the right lighting on the building. Then of course you need to wait for this to coincide with a green light for the traffic, and for a bus to pass :). 1/6th of a second, handheld – thanks to the Nikon VR system !
My mate Chris Davies called me while I’m standing there and says “what’s all that noise? Where are you?”. Well it’s like Piccadilly Circus here fella, mainly because it is 🙂
This was a family trip, and that’s my excuse for not getting too many “serious” landscapes however as with any location, you would need to really explore it in detail, find the shots and then visit again and again at the right times of day, and year to get the best results, so even if this was a photo trip, good landscape would be a fortunate event. This is why I take landscape workshops once in a while btw – its not that I need anyone to show me how to operate the camera, make exposure or focus – I’ve got a number of techniques down pretty well now for gathering the data. Having someone that knows the location on the trip though – now that’s worth investing in. Mind you, I did get lucky with the light on a couple of occasions and a few half decent landscapes did drop out..
So, the Griswald Lloyd family Vacation from the flatlands of Calgary through the Rocky Mountains, Scooby Doo world, some surreal Stepford-esque fake Swiss Towns to the very pleasant seaside-town-grown-big that is Vancouver. Our land-ship for this trip, due to general ineptitude at Avis was the Dodge Grand Caravan you can see on the right. Big, build quality and design from the 80’s and an engine that would struggle to pull the skin off a custard. The old style hydraulic slushbox was as ancient as the styling, and would take 3 days to sort out a change of gear. An absolute pain to drive on the open road, it would slow down on the hills until you pressed so much on the throttle pedal it eventually changed down and then gradually picked up speed. As soon as you backed off though it would change up and start slowing down again… I’m not sure the steering wheel was actually connected to anything either. It was big though, and with the 3rd row of seats folded away into the floor, our 3 large suitcases went in the back easily.
Our first stop was Banff, a small town mainly comprised of hotels and shopping malls. Banff is a good looking town – the buildings are all sympathetically designed and mostly, the hotel parking is underground. We visited Sulphur Mountain via the gondola, and the Vermillion Lakes.
This is the exit from the gift shop in the Vatican Museum. Despite an abundance of staggeringly gorgeous old stuff, coming at you from every direction I really like this relatively modern stair case. I’ve been in the museum before, a few years back, however I walked right past this (I never go in the gift shop you see) and saw it on Kalebra’s Google+ post. Unlike Scott’s early morning visit, it was full of people when I shot it of course, and it took about 4 of the 20 or so shots I took to get an empty scene. This is easy to do in Photoshop these days – do you basic exposure adjustments to one image in Lightroom. Sync the others and then highlight them all and open as layers in Photoshop. Choose the one with the least people and put that at the bottom of the stack. Turn off visibility on all the others and then choose layers that have no people at the points where there *are* people on the base image. Turn these on and put a hide-all mask on them them so you can reveal parts of the image over the people on the base image – painting them away with a white brush.
The tour guide kept asking if I wanted a headset. Nope – I’ve heard the spiel before, and I can read up on Vatican history any time. The reason I was on a tour? It takes hours to get in the museum, however if you join a tour, you bypass the queues. They do get confused though when you don’t take the headset (and it’s one more thing to get in the way). The guide was waxing lyrical about the Sistine Chapel ceiling – so I nipped next door into the gift shop to take about 20 frames.
Taken with my new travel solution – another Scott Kelby tip: watch Scott’s travel photography video courses if you are contemplating any trips. For the first time in a long time, I carried no bag. I had my D800E, with Nikon 28-300mm super-zoom. I had my 20mm AIS and 50mm f/1.8 in my pockets. I used the 20mm twice the whole trip, and never touched the 50mm (which I took along in case I wanted a bit more light in dark places) as the low light performance on the D800 is so good, it just wasn’t worth putting the 50mm on.
I carried the camera on a Black Rapid sport strap – which worked very well – definitely recommend this strap – you shoot, you drop the camera back down – it all works very nicely.