Photographing Cityscapes — A City Mouse in Winter By Jacqueline A. Sheen

I love to pho­to­graph the city in win­ter. The light is like no other time of year since the sun is always low in the sky. Long shad­ows crawl across the snow cre­at­ing inter­est­ing lines. The light often has a sub­tle pink­ish glow that you only see in sum­mer at day­break. There is a clean crisp­ness to the air and the land­scape. The bare trees and snow cov­ered streets cre­ate a clean min­i­mal­ism you don’t have in summer.

I was out wan­der­ing about with my newly pur­chased 8mm fish­eye lens on a crisp Sun­day after­noon. The tem­per­a­ture was hov­er­ing at minus 20 C with the bit of wind chill. It was sunny and the snow was reflect­ing the light back on every sur­face. I was in the skate park with the idea I could try out some inter­est­ing exper­i­ments with the snow cov­ered skate domes. The new C Train over­pass also runs along the edge of the park, so I thought it would work well with the lens’s dis­tor­tion as well.

Urban Trek by Jacqueline A. Sheen

Urban Trek by Jacque­line A. Sheen

The prob­lems that a cityscape pho­tog­ra­pher faces in win­ter are not much dif­fer­ent than what a land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher would expe­ri­ence. Our ter­rain is gen­er­ally a bit smoother but it is equally as cold, so I always dress about the same as you would expect to dress if you were out in the moun­tains. I am usu­ally out for a few hours at a time, so I make sure I am pre­pared for the weather.  The advan­tage I have over the rugged land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher is that I can find a Star­bucks to warm up in pretty quickly when the going gets too cold!

If you are out in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures for extended peri­ods of time, you will have to con­sider how to care for your gear.  I usu­ally carry an extra bat­tery in my pocket but so far I have not had to use it. Recently, while out on the street on a crisp day of about minus 10 C, I noticed the sun shin­ing into one of our plus 15s that is acces­si­ble from the street. I thought it might make for an inter­est­ing shot from the inside and climbed up the stairs to go inside. Well– myself, (I wear glasses) the cam­era LCD screen and the lens fil­ter all fogged up as you might expect. After a few min­utes the fog­gi­ness cleared and I was able to get the shot. I am told that hav­ing a fil­ter on the front of your lens helps keep mois­ture off the lens itself so you may want to con­sider a UV fil­ter for that rea­son. Also when I come in from shoot­ing on a cold day,  I remove the mem­ory cards  from my cam­era,  pack up the cam­era and lenses  in the bag, then I zip it up tightly. I let every­thing return to room tem­per­a­ture for sev­eral hours before remov­ing the gear  from my bag. That way I avoid the prob­lem of con­den­sa­tion on my cam­era and lenses.  Hav­ing a well padded cam­era bag is use­ful for this reason.

For this photo, which I call “Urban Trek”, I was lin­ing up the 8mm fish­eye lens to show off the cir­cle of street lights in the park. Some­one walked into my frame and I snapped the pic­ture.  The idea of the urban trekker appealed to me. Here we have an urban­ite fac­ing the harsh cold ele­ments sur­rounded by this stark bright land­scape. His dress and pos­ture fur­ther empha­size the cold tem­per­a­tures as he quickly walks to his destination.

Jacque­line A. Sheen is a pho­tog­ra­pher liv­ing in Cal­gary Alberta, Canada. You can check out more of her work at and she also goes by the han­dle JAS_Photo on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum.

Photographing Cityscapes — A City Mouse Perspective by Jacqueline A. Sheen

I am a city mouse; there is no get­ting around it. Not for me get­ting up in the predawn hours to drive for hours out to coun­try vis­tas wait­ing for the per­fect sun­rise. No. My milieu is the city. I live uptown and love it here. I walk just about every­where I go. I encounter inter­est­ing char­ac­ters almost daily and the bus­tle of rush hour makes my heart flut­ter just a lit­tle. When I leave the city, upon return­ing, the moment I see the city sky­line in the dis­tance my heart races just a lit­tle with the feel­ing one gets when they know they will soon see an old love once again.

Calgary Cityscape by Jacqueline A. Sheen

Cal­gary Cityscape by Jacque­line A. Sheen

Cal­gary is not a big city although it suf­fers a bit from urban sprawl. It sits nicely on the prairies, where the Bow River runs through it. The CPR rail­way also runs through the down­town core. This is a vibrant, wealthy city, that was built on a ‚“can do‚ pio­neer spirit.

Calgary‚„s many sky­scrap­ers afford some won­der­ful sky­line pho­tog­ra­phy. Because the city core runs east to west along the core, some really won­der­ful late day pho­tos can be had from the west­ern side of down­town fac­ing east. The glass tow­ers lit­er­ally glow pink and gold. The down­town core itself is located near the riverbed in a bit of a val­ley, which makes for some awe­some van­tage points both at river level and from higher van­tage points.

When pho­tograph­ing the city, I walk every­where. It is not really much dif­fer­ent than land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy in that respect. To see, really see what you are look­ing at, you have to slow down. I try to pho­to­graph the city in a way that shows off its beauty but at the same time, shows it in a way that the com­mon com­muter may not notice in their race to get down­town. Look up. Did you notice the clas­sic art deco styling on that old build­ing? ‚Did you see those gar­goyles way high up on another?

Cal­gary is blessed in that the down­town core is vibrant and alive. There is an active arts com­mu­nity and there is much pub­lic and pri­vate funded art. The photo above shows a por­tion of a large sculp­ture that graces the side­walk in front of one of the ‚“Oil Tow­ers‚ down­town. It looks like a styl­ized dinosaur skele­ton, which makes sense as all the oil reserves come from ‚“dinosaur bones‚ so to speak. Although the own­ers of the sculp­ture may not like my use of it to frame a sky­scraper other than their own, when I saw the photo, the title came imme­di­ately to mind. ‚“This City was Built On Dinosaur Bones.‚

Jacque­line A. Sheen is a pho­tog­ra­pher liv­ing in Cal­gary Alberta, Canada. You can check out more of her work at and she also goes by the han­dle JAS_Photo on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum.

Vintage photo of the day — Dec. 27, 2010

Today’s vin­tage pho­to­graph of the day by mas­ter pho­tog­ra­pher Ernst Haas, is titled Binoc­u­lars and it was taken in Bat­tery Park, NY in 1952. Haas is well known for adopt­ing colour early on in his career before many of his con­tem­po­raries. Famous Haas colour pho­tographs include slow motion studies.

A Haas quote that I really dig is, “The best pic­tures dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves by nuances‚¦a tiny rela­tion­ship ‚ either a har­mony or a dishar­mony — that cre­ates a picture.”

Binoculars by Ernst Haas - 1952

Binoc­u­lars by Ernst Haas — 1952

This pho­to­graph works on‚multiple‚levels which is likely why it works so well.
The‚binoculars‚themselves look like human faces so we are‚immediately‚attracted to that aspect. How­ever, other ele­ments also make this image inter­est­ing. These ele­ments include the fence and the build­ings in the back­ground. For me, the fence, binoc­u­lars and back­ground build­ings rep­re­sent the fact that ‘mak­ing it’ in New York is dif­fi­cult. The fence sep­a­rates you from the build­ings but you can see them through the binoc­u­lars. Get­ting there, is a battle…but if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

91 — 3 ways to reduce noise in photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #91 dis­cusses 3 common‚reasons‚we get noise in our pho­tographs and we offer tips on how to beat that noise. For the pur­poses of this pod­cast, noise is the appear­ance of coloured‚specks, ‚monochromatic‚specks or bands/lines that appear in your pho­tographs (often in uni­form areas like the sky or in the shad­owy parts of the image) that should not be there.

Scene from Oka Parc Quebec Canada

Scene from Oka Park Que­bec Canada

This image from OKA Park looks pleas­ing enough and look­ing at it here you might not know that the image was under­ex­posed. I boosted the lev­els in Pho­to­shop so at first glance it looks pretty good.

HOWEVER, this 100% crop from the same image reveals the noise (colours in the snow) due to underexposure.

Snow detail crop at 100% shows colour noise

Snow detail crop at 100% shows colour noise

TIP — Don’t auto­mat­i­cally under­ex­pose. Under­ex­pose the scene only when necessary.

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Cam­bridge in Colour arti­cle on noise
Noise Ninja
Topaz Denoise

Shiny‚is the reg­u­lar assign­ment this month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum
Ton sur Ton is the level 2 assign­ment this month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum

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Thanks to rabs, Lee Sacrey, Las Vegas Wed­dings, Charles binns land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, and Michael Van der Tol who posted a blog com­ment about our last pod­cast. Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board. Most of the links to actual the prod­ucts are affil­i­ate links that help sup­port this site. Thanks in advance if you pur­chase through those links.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except — Please hop on over to the‚ blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes |Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe with Google Reader |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — and get all the posts/podcasts by Email
You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.

Happy Hol­i­days every­one and only the best for 2011 — thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

Vintage photo of the day — Dec. 10, 2010

I’ve been fol­low­ing the work of Jan Saudek (note: many graphic nude images on the site — NOT for the timid) for about 15 years and he is a Mas­ter pho­tog­ra­pher. What orig­i­nally drew me to his work is his sto­ry­telling, his non-conventional mod­els and back­grounds, his themes and the hand­colour­ing. Jan has a very notable ‘style’ and you will love him or hate him.

Today’s image of the day is Hun­gry For Your Touch, 1971 by Jan Saudek. I love the angle of this image and the posi­tions of the hands which are rem­i­nis­cent of‚ the Cre­ation of Adam paint­ing. I love the bright light enter­ing the door­way in the back­ground as it makes the theme of the image far richer. With­out the door the image is more about hands and inti­macy. WITH the door though, all kinds of addi­tional themes (at least to me) are sug­gested. These themes include, cre­ation, spir­i­tu­al­ity, union, long­ing and birth. That’s my take on it any­way, what do YOU see?

Hungry For Your Touch, 1971 by Jan Saudek

Hun­gry For Your Touch, 1971 by Jan Saudek

Photo of the day — December 8, 2010

I’ve come to real­ize some­thing about myself‚ lately, I just love detail shots.

There was a crazy snow­storm yes­ter­day so it was the per­fect time to go out­side and take pic­tures. :)

I took about 10 shots of var­i­ous scenes but when it came time to select just one image, I grav­i­tated toward this detail shot below. I had no ‘goal’ in mind except to take a win­tery shot. What attracted my eye to this shot were the lines. Lines in gen­eral are an extremely pow­er­ful com­po­si­tional ele­ment when used cor­rectly. Often they are used to guide the eye to another ele­ment in the image. In this case though, the lines them­selves are part of the sub­ject mat­ter and they just screamed to be photographed.

Winter Mat by Marko Kulik

Win­ter Mat by Marko Kulik

6 photos of the day — December 7, 2010

Last month I went on a photo-tour in the Rock­ies led by Dar­win Wiggett and after the tour was over he asked if we could send over our 6 faves for him to post on his site. Now that they have been posted on his site for a week or so I thought I’d also‚ post them here. Feel free to com­ment or cri­tique any aspect of these images.

Icy Sunrise at Preacher‚„s Point, Abraham Lake, Alberta by Marko Kulik

Icy Sun­rise at Preacher‚„s Point, Abra­ham Lake, Alberta by Marko Kulik

The ice for­ma­tions at Preacher‚„s Point were just awe­some. I could have eas­ily stayed there the entire day and the sun­rise was also one of the best that we had. I spent a good part of the morn­ing on my belly slid­ing on the ice look­ing for cool ice for­ma­tions. Although the ice I laid on was solid, the lake was not totally frozen and I kept hear­ing ice crack­ing sounds which freaked me out quite a bit.

Ice Cave at Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta by Marko Kulik

Ice Cave at Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta by Marko Kulik

I must have 20 shots of this ‚Ëœice cave‚„. I kept mov­ing closer and closer and closer until my footwear would not let me move any closer or my feet would have been soaked with ice-water. I was super-intrigued with the ice-forms to the right of the cen­tral rush­ing water as they seemed smoke-like to my eye.

Waveform at Coleman Creek, Banff National Park, Alberta by Marko Kulik

Wave­form at Cole­man Creek, Banff National Park, Alberta by Marko Kulik

I really dug Cole­man Creek and had the 105mm Macro on for close up details. The great thing about the 105 (I have the Nikon ver­sion) is that it‚„s also a lovely por­trait lens. When I spot­ted the inter­play between the water and the ice here, I imme­di­ately focused a few feet in front of me. I thought of surf­ing as I cap­tured this waveform.

Junction, North Saskatchewan River, Banff National Park by Marko Kulik

Junc­tion, North Saskatchewan River, Banff National Park by Marko Kulik

The rush­ing water, the ici­cles, as well as the rock faces all caught my atten­tion in this com­po­si­tion. I was also struck by the strong shapes and the inter­play between them.

Icy Tree Reflection at Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta by Marko Kulik

Icy Tree Reflec­tion at Water­fowl Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta by Marko Kulik

I was struck by the painterly feel of this reflected tree in the ice. The cracked ice and tex­tures made for a nice can­vas for the tree‚„s reflection.

Ice Disks, Abraham Lake, Alberta by Marko Kulik

Ice Disks, Abra­ham Lake, Alberta by Marko Kulik

This was a chal­leng­ing shot to get because I cut my pinky fin­ger on the ice maybe 5 min­utes before tak­ing this shot. I was bleed­ing a bit and tried to stop it with kleenex and it worked for a while. Every time I needed real dex­ter­ity though I moved the kleenex and it started up again. Any­way it healed up nicely. Sorry if I spoiled any macro com­po­si­tions for any­one. Wait a sec the inter­play of blood and ice ‚œ that might have been cool! I chose to con­vert this image to black and white because the nat­ural colours of rocks in the back­ground were inter­fer­ing with the form of the ice disks I wanted to highlight.

And those were the 6 that I sent off to Dar­win. Just in case peo­ple are inter­ested to see a few addi­tional shots, I posted 2 threads in our forum here.

Vintage photo of the day — December 6, 2010

On Decem­ber 3rd I sug­gested that the image of the day on this blog would mostly be my pho­tog­ra­phy and 3 days later I’m here to tell you that it will be a mix of pho­tog­ra­phy that I per­son­ally find inter­est­ing. Some­times it will be my work but often it will be other people’s and on some days, like today it will be the work of a Master.

Today’s image is by Mas­ter pho­tog­ra­pher Paul Strand and it’s called Young Boy, Gondev­ille, Char­ente, France . I just love the fact that this image is almost 60 years old. It’s a very intense por­trait of a boy star­ing right into the cam­era. What makes this por­trait work for me are the very intense and sharp eyes along with good light­ing that reveals tex­ture in the fence, boy’s hair, face and cloth­ing. The well cho­sen back­ground suits the sub­ject and sug­gests a work­ing envi­ron­ment to me. The print­ing is also won­der­ful with a full range of tones (that show up bet­ter in repro­duc­tions and books ver­sus here on the web).

Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France, 1951 by Paul Strand

Young Boy, Gondev­ille, Char­ente, France, 1951 by Paul Strand winning member images

For the past 2 months we have added a new fea­ture on our pho­tog­ra­phy bul­letin board where the Admin on (Me, Marko),‚ chooses 1 photo that he thinks is great and talks about the photo. The Eagle photo below by kentw was my choice for this month. (check the pre­vi­ous link for the explanation).

We have lots of pho­tographs being sub­mit­ted each month on our forum for cri­tiques, assign­ments or just to show the photo. Choos­ing Kent’s photo as the ‘win­ner’ took about 3.5 hours of care­ful sift­ing. Given that it took so long to choose, I came across many many many close con­tenders. Seems like a waste of time just to include 1 photo so I’d like to include 3 hon­ourable men­tions right here.

If you haven’t joined our forum I would encour­age you to do so. We are an extremely friendly bunch that share and learn daily.

Here’s the win­ning photo:

Eagles on the Mississippi by kentw

Eagles on the Mis­sis­sippi by kentw

Here are the 3 hon­ourable mentions:

A leaf in water by Michaelaw

A leaf in water by Michaelaw

From Exploring b/w thread by Mad Aussie

From ‘Explor­ing b/w thread’ by Mad Aussie

Shot of my ~Carla~

Shot of my dd…by ~Carla~

Portrait from the Plateau — Sunday in the Park

One of the many amaz­ing aspects of Mon­treal is the reg­u­lar gath­er­ing of dif­fer­ent peo­ple to enjoy what­ever is going on. Sun­day in the Park (at Mount Royal) has been a tra­di­tion for over 10 years. Hun­dreds (some­times thou­sands) of peo­ple get together and play drums, dance, jug­gle, imbibe, play fris­bee etc. The girl in this pho­to­graph (I HAVE to start ask­ing names) looked so peace­ful prac­tic­ing her art that I HAD to take this photo — I asked first though.
Exif data — F-4.0 1/250 ISO 100

Sleepy Dog

Below is the orig­i­nal image (with dis­trac­tions) — added as a result of the com­ments :)

The top image tries to fol­low the ‘rules’ from photo pod­cast #46 where we talked about dis­tract­ing ele­ments in pho­tographs. This is a shot of a dog sleep­ing in a local con­ve­nience store. I spent about 15 min­utes ‘clean­ing up’ this photo. By clean­ing up I’m specif­i­cally talk­ing about remov­ing dis­tract­ing ele­ments. In this case the dis­tract­ing ele­ments were bright­ness prob­lems. I wanted the focus of the shot to be on the dog’s face and snout so I burned in (dark­ened) almost every­thing that was brighter than the face and snout. By doing this I’m actively guid­ing the viewer’s eye to where I want it to go.
Did I do a good job? Com­ments? Questions?

Photographs — should we change the word — Photography podcast #43

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #43‚asks the ques­tion do we need to change the word pho­to­graph because it is not descrip­tive enough. With pho­tographs being so heav­ily edited in Pho­to­shop, do we need more spe­cific terms (or a new lex­i­con) to describe what kinds of pho­tographs we are look­ing at?‚

FYI — Next pod­cast will be less philo­soph­i­cal and more instructional/practical.

Pho­tog­ra­phy links men­tioned in this pod­cast:
Post pro­cess­ing thread

Thanks as always to Vlad,‚Andre_f,‚deb­bieT, ‚Elio and Alen for‚recent com­ments and sug­ges­tions. We LOVE com­ments and sug­ges­tions so please send more.

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.