Featured Photo – Tibetan Uprising Day, 10 March 2012

Tibetan Uprising Day

Tibetan Uprising Day:  a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles for human rights in Tibet.  This photo was taken in 10 March 2012 with a Nikon D90, 50mm f/1.4 at f/1.4 at ISO 1600 at 1/160.

Tibetan Uprising Day March in Los Angeles, CA, 10 March 2012. Tibetan Uprising Day, observed on March 10, commemorates the 1959 Tibetan uprising against the presence of the People’s Republic of China in Tibet. The failure of the armed rebellion ultimately resulted in a violent crackdown on Tibetan independence movements, causing the Dalai Lama and his cohorts to bail in the middle of the night, fleeing across the Himalayas to India where he still lives today.

I was here as a member of three groups: Tibet Connection (I edit the English radio show about Tibetan culture, news, and events), Los Angeles Friends of Tibet, and the L.A. Street Photography Meetup group (I invited members of this group to show up!). The Tibetan Association of Southern California was also there, of course.

Self-immolations In the past year, about 25 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to protest the lack of freedom and human rights that exists in their country at the hands of the Chinese. China invaded Tibet in the 1950s and has brutally repressed the Himalayan country. The military occupation and brutality was cranked up in light of the 2008 Beijing protests and has not abated. No outside press has been allowed inside Tibet since then. Thankfully, no one set themselves ablaze during our Los Angeles march.

During our march, many of us held signs asking, “Why are Tibetans setting themselves on Fire? The self-immolations were on everyone’s mind. During the candlelight vigil, Tibetan children read the names of those who had set fire to themselves in the name of freedom. The people ranged from nuns and monks to laypeople of all walks of life, and was an emotionally moving vigil.

Photographing the march Photographing the march presents interesting challenges.  The light was very bright by the Staples Center, with lots of contrasting shade, but the sun disappeared quickly by the time we got to the Chinese Consulate, resulting in very dark light. For these two featured photos, I kicked up the ISO so I could capture the natural light without resorting to an off-camera (wireless) flash.  While I did take a few flash photos, I ended up preferring the natural light. By the time I took the photo below, it was almost completely dark.

For most of the march, until we got to the Chinese Consulate, I had been using the 18-200mm lens, which is quite flexible.  However, at f/3.5-5.6, it ain’t the fastest lens.  I switched to the 50mm f/1.4 and then kept moving.  This is the same lens I use for concert photography as well.

Candlelight Vigil for Tibetan Uprising Day

Candlelight Vigil for Tibetan Uprising Day in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles.  This photo was very dark, so I used an ISO of 2000 (the other photo is 1600), 1/160s shutter speed, and an aperture of f/1.4.  The same equipment was used.  I wanted natural light because I thought it was beautiful, so I didn’t use my wireless off-camera flash here despite the very dark light.

Equipment:  Nikon D90 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only, Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Featured Photo – The Dreamy Pacific (Long Exposure Photo)

I’ve gotten a few questions about how I shot the main featured photo on the top, so it’s this week’s Featured Photo!

Northern California

I took this photo in the Lost Coast, the most isolated stretch of coastline on the West Coast of the United States. I love the rugged coastline here, and feel like I have the entire beach to myself.

This is probably one of the most difficult photos I’ve taken.  It was cold and windy, whipping the ocean spray onshore.  I had some issues with condensation and salt water spray, but managed okay by covering the camera with a plastic bag until it was time to shoot. Adding to the difficulty was that the beach was not sandy, but instead filled with rocks, so because of the strong wind, I jammed the Feisol Travel Tripod hard into the rocks to try and secure it, and then hung my camera bag on the hook provided in the middle.

I took this photo before sunrise using a 30-second exposure to achieve the ethereal, misty look from the movement of the ocean water. I think this look is beautiful. To try and minimize camera shake, I fired the camera using the Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord. I still managed to get a few spots of saltwater on the lens despite my best efforts, so I cloned them out as best I could.

I used a couple of Tiffen 72mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filters, a colorless filter that reduces the light entering the lens.  I did this to enable me to keep the shutter open longer to achieve the ethereal effect from the moving water.  And related to this, some of you may notice that I’m using a really small aperture.  Why?  Two reasons. One is that, once again, it lets in less light, which allows me to keep the shutter open longer, creating a more ethereal feel.  The other is that I have a larger depth of field, the range of distance in which things are in focus.  Or, to put it another way, more of the photo is sharper than if I had used a wide aperture.


Equipment:  Nikon D90, Nikon 18-200mm VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens, Feisol Travel CT-3441S Rapid 4-Section Carbon Traveler Tripod (I’m actually using the CT-3441T, which is extra tall), Tiffen 72mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter


Featured Photo – Haunted Bathtub: Light Painting in the Desert

What Is Light Painting?  It’s a photographic technique in which photos are made by moving a hand-held light source around (or by moving the camera) to create an exposure. Today, I’m illustrating a technique in which I am using colored filters to create different colors through light.

Haunted outdoor bathtub underneath the desert stars, all illuminated by shining a light source on the structure and bathtub.

Here, the shutter of my camera remained open for a little over four minutes while I “light painted” the outdoor “bathtub spa” with my trusty mag light, discovering that a metal mag light can become very cold when it is several degrees above freezing at night.  Brrrrrrrr!

Have a look at the bathtub. It has an eerie blue glow!  I placed my mag light inside the tub, covering it with a blue filter.  Fun!

My “light paintbrush” was my trusty mag light, which incidentally gets really cold when it’s 35 degrees Fahrenheit unless you have gloves. I placed my mag light inside the bathtub for about 30-35 seconds with a couple of blue filters laid over the flashlight to give the bathtub its eerie blue glow!!!  The ceiling was “painted” with a green filter, but it doesn’t seem to really show up very much at all.

The streaks of light, or star trails, seen in the sky are the stars moving.  Since the lens was open for over four minutes, they show the movement of the earth.  Longer exposures can show even more circular movements of the stars in the photograph.

250.1 second exposure, F/3.5, 18-200mm VR AF lens, ISO 200.

To see another example of light painting, check out a previous blog of mine, “Midnight In Pioneertown:  Painting With Light“.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens

Photo Tip of the Month – 5 Reasons Why Compact Cameras Rule

Five Reasons Why Compact Cameras Rule
I own a Leica DLux 4, although there’s a Panasonic equivalent, the Lumix DMC-LX3, which is considerably cheaper and has the same body and lens.  This camera does quite well in low light situations for a compact camera.  There’s also four thirds and interchangeable lens cameras, other high quality compacts, such as the Canon G11 or G12, and iPhones or other phone cameras which can take quality photos.  I always prefer to bring a compact camera when i travel.  And a lot of professional photographers will bring a compact camera with them when they are on assignment.  Here’s five reasons why:

1.  It Ain’t a Great Photo If You Don’t Take It.  If you don’t have your camera with you, you’re not going to get the shot.  But with a small camera that can fit in your pocket, you can always have it with you for those unexpected fantastic opportunities.

2.  Mobile and Spontaneous.  Clubs?  Hiking?  Street Photography?  Concerts?  It’s always with you.  Take it out, start shooting instantly, and even upload it to your Facebook page if your camera allows you to do so.

3.  Make People At Ease With Portraits.  People are often more at ease with smaller cameras than large SLRs.  They’ll relax more, perceiving the smaller camera as less “formal”.  And with most cameras being smaller than DSLRs, that can help quite a bit in getting your subject comfortable with your photography.

4.  “Macro” Photography.  A lot of smaller cameras can also focus on objects much closer.  This can be a lot of fun when doing quick photos of…well, just about anything, whether it’s flowers, animals, or every day objects, bringing a new perspective that your SLR may not be able to do unless it has macro lens.

5.  Safety.  With a small pocket camera, you are far less likely to attract attention.  You’re far less of a target for theft.  This quite possibly can save your life.

The Window
Good portraits can be taken with modest or small cameras, such as the one with a Brazilian girl, taken with a Leica D-Lux 4 (the same as a Panasonic DMC-LX3 – see link below) compact camera.  I can keep this in my pocket, perfect for the photographer on the go.
Paulinho of the pandeiro
Paulinho of the Pandeiro, Brazil. This photo illustrates a close-up low-light photograph that many high-quality compact cameras can achieve. Photographed with the Leica D-Lux 4 (the same as a Panasonic DMC-LX3 – see link below), which I kept in my pocket except for occasional photos, increasing my safety and people’s comfort level…perfect for the photographer on the go.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens