St George’s Panorama – June 2010

Georgetown Guyana, St George's Cathedral

I have always been fascinated by Panoramic photographs, and I’ve tried a few over the last few years, this is the first one since I started by site or the blog.  We had an opportunity to go to the top of the new NBS head office (under construction) and take a few photographs, and I thought I would try a panorama from up there.  So far it is also the only thing I have processed from that day, very bad of me, but time is a very scarce commodity it seems.

Saint George’s Cathedral is probably one of the most photographed buildings in Guyana, it is not only a beautiful piece of Architecture, but is also imposing in it’s surroundings.  It is an island unto itself, surrounded by a “roundabout” (North Road splits and reconverges on the other side), it faces oncoming traffic from four sides (if you count Church Street) and is one of the tallest wooden structures in the world.

Some people like these wide panoramas, some don’t.  I think that the problem with wide panoramas is that there should be something eye-catching in it or about it that will make it more than just a bunch of images stitched together.  I have a few that are not spectacular, simply because it just looks sort of plain, but I like them anyway.  This Panorama, however, is punctuated by the St George’s Cathedral and makes it more appealing than some of the others that I have tried.  It is a compilation of twenty images taken in “portrait orientation” to get the most of the sky and foreground.  Each photo was taken at the widest on the lens (18mm) at 1/320 shutter speed and f/10 aperture, even though Canon has a stitching software I actually prefer Adobe Photoshop’s stitching (don’t tell anyone, since I am not a big Photoshop fan and most people know it).

If you click on the image above it will carry you to the site where (depending on your monitor) you can see a larger version.

The Deck – Week 25

This past week I actually took 157 images, I only took these on three days during the time span.  I know this stuff only because I had to pick a favourite of the week for a challenge on DP Review, so of those images, one jumped out for me, it may not have been the best image or the most spectacular, certainly not the most colourful, but it had some meaning, and it tells a story.

Now this is the thing about photography, I am just there to record the image, the image usually tells its own story, and like many other types of art, the story can be different for each viewer.  A scene will evoke different memories, different reactions, different emotions in people; none are right nor wrong, simply different.

This is my photo for the Deck, the twenty-fifth week of the year 2010, you may like it, you may not, but you will have some reaction to it,  let’s just hope it’s a good reaction.

Afternoon on the Seawall's Promenade


The Bandstand and Water Fountain at the Promenade Gardens

Growing up, we were always enthralled by the Bandstands that were a part of scenic Georgetown, back then there would even be Bands playing in those bandstands.  You can find these at the Promenade Gardens, the Botanical Gardens and at the Georgetown Seawall.

What prompted this post was a conversation that we had today with a gentleman (probably more accurately described as a concerned citizen), at the seawalls.  He saw us with cameras in hand and wondered if we were members of the local (or maybe international) media, since he wanted to highlight the destruction being carried out on the Seawall Bandstand by others.  One railing is completely removed, apparently sold as scrap iron, and he also claims that other portions of it are removed by others for their personal gain in one way or another.

Other than the vandalism, it is sad to see another part of our Historical Georgetown being neglected by the relevant authorities, at this stage I am not sure who is in charge of something like this.  Does it fall under the National Parks Commission? City Hall? The Guyana Government?  Would the Guyana Heritage Society consider a decades old (most likely more than a century old actually) structure of enough historical importance to come to its aid?

I would even dare suggest that the Pegasus Hotel assist in some small way to the restoration and maintenance of this landmark, it is on their doorstep and an attraction for tourists.  Consider it a bit of social responsibility.

What we found funny, not necessarily ironic, and I don’t mean laughable funny, is that this bandstand is part of the scenery NEXT to the Felix Austin Police College, I believe that many policemen live in this portion facing the seawall, so vandalism, theft, and destruction of property is being committed right under their noses.

Before everyone thinks that all the bandstands are falling to pieces (well, at least the ones in Georgetown), they’re not.  The one in the Botanical gardens is very well kept, and thanks to Republic Bank in their collaborative effort with the Mayor and City Council, the entire Promenade Gardens is very well kept, including the Bandstand that is a centrepiece for that Garden.

So, what is with the title of this post? Why call it 666?  I wanted to say something about this image that I posted here, and as fate would have it, the walk today and the conversation with the concerned citizen provided just the idea for the post, but the title of the post comes from the fact that this image is the six hundred and sixty-sixth image that I uploaded to my site.  That’s all it is, just a number, nothing more or less significant than that.  Someone asked how many images I had uploaded to the site and I thought the milestone worth mentioning  🙂

Inspiration from others (The Deck – Week 24)

Often enough, where we get the inspiration for some photographs are from other photographs or paintings.  Sometimes we don’t even realize that we have taken inspiration from others, it may be a sub-conscious remembrance from childhood, from the numerous books we may have read, or shows we have looked at.  And then there are the true “artists” among us who create those photographs that become our inspiration.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, whether or not you believe that is your opinion, but if any of my photos resembles any of yours or others that you may have seen, I will readily admit that it’s either a coincidence or I was inspired by someone’s  photo or work of art.  Whenever Nikhil is inspired by articles, books or photographs on a particular type of photography, it quickly transforms from inspiration to a passion, and because he includes me in his photo-walks we often discuss whatever area he is inspired by at that point of time.  I don’t often share his passion on every aspect, but many times the ideas and the photos he takes, inspires me, and he has even accused me of outdoing him once in his new field  🙂  I like to believe that I merely took his lessons and learnt a little from them.

I like to believe that I am somewhat creative, but I also love to take inspiration from others, often times, it is simply because it’s easier  🙂  I think that maybe creative was the wrong word to use, I have seldom thought of photography as a creative artform, to me it is a recording of a scene, but some say that to record it the way some photographers have been able to do it requires a bit of creativity.  Who am I to argue?

What’s the real point of all this rambling?  Recently my Aunt showed me an old album of photographs of different places in Guyana (more of Georgetown than anywhere else) and both she and I thought that it would be nice to do a “revisit” of some of them.  For one thing, it would show a comparison of similar scenes across a number of years, but it could also show the different attitude of the photographers, just duplicating the scene could be meaningless, showing it from your own perspective could have more meaning, at least for the photographer.  One day I will get around to this project, one day.

Inspiration is one thing,  just taking the same photo from the same spot of the same scene is just plain lazy.  Think to yourself, what about the original image inspired you?  Was it the angle? Was it the subject? Was it the colours or the composition?  Take the inspiration you got and try to make an inspiring photo of your own, even if you fail, at least you tried.

Below you’ll see a photo circa 1940 of Cabbage Walk (an unusual name, it’s the roadway into Le Repentir Cemetary from Louisa Row in Georgetown) that inspired one of my own, also shown below, at the Botanical Gardens,  I’m sure you can tell the difference  🙂

Cabbage Walk (circa 1940), photographer unknown.
The Botanical Gardens, 2010

Where to look for something to photograph

Originally, I had often thought that to use a location or subject that you are comfortable with is the ideal thing if you are looking for something to photograph, but, for me, because of the familiarity with the location or subject everything looks “normal“, nothing inspires you to take the photograph and you think to yourself, there’s nothing here that interests me.

It’s always the same, you see these items or these scenes everyday and you are so familiar with them that there’s nothing “special”  about it that demands that you photograph it, nothing looks unusual enough, or stands out from the norm that would entice you to take a photograph.

The solution? Get out, go somewhere different, the change in scenery inevitably does the trick.

Nikhil and I have developed a habit of, every now and then, getting out of the office and take a midday walk, other than just getting away from the toll of everyday work, it gives us an opportunity to get some fresh air and also see what is out there to photograph.  Two Fridays ago, he came by an afternoon and said “Can you get away for a few minutes? I want to take a few photos”, and away we went, I got a few that I considered worthy enough to upload to the site, you can click on these to see the larger images:

Canal at Cowan


Sometimes, it’s even a place you’ve been before, but something new catches your eye, it could be a new element, or different positioning of old ones, often enough it’s just how the light works on the same old subjects, the scene changes as the sun makes its way across the meridians and the same scene looks vastly different in June than it did in November.  On a family outing during Easter, on what would have been “just another day” I actually came away with quite a few photos that I thought I should share, some have already been uploaded and these are some to add:

Lock Blue

On the most recent of those midday walks I mentioned I came back with some rather nice ones, my favourites being the Sepia rendered ones;

Midday ContemplationIrving's Fruits

So, I truly believe that if you’re stuck in a rut with the types of photography, if you have the photographer’s equivalent of Writer’s Block, just grab the camera, and take a walk, it could be a block away, or just out the door, a change of scenery may be all your need.  You should have a general idea of where you normally pass, don’t go there, change your route, take the long way home  🙂  Or if you are like most people these days and go everywhere in a vehicle, stop!  Drive to a spot somewhere along your normal route and get out, take a walk and maybe you’ll see things just a little differently.  If you’re in Georgetown (or New York City), having someone with you is probably a good idea, they can watch your back or even spot something you missed, just remember, if you’re going out, take the camera with you.

The Deck – Week 23

Power Struggle
A Power Struggle, and City Hall is losing

I’ve uploaded my image for the 2010 Deck collection on the site.  It seems I’ve been in a monochrome rut for the last few weeks.  It’s actually interesting this time, since I usually only make monochromatic shots for a few reasons;

  • I initially look at the scene and believe from the start that it will look good as either black and white or sepia
  • The sky was blanket grey and made an otherwise lovely scene look drab – I’m a sucker for a blue sky.
  • The post process intention was to give the image an older look

In this image, I actually got a lovely blue sky with those white clouds encroaching, something about the decaying building bothered me and I decided after some contemplation to render this in monochrome.  I am mostly a fan of “whole buildings” but occasionally I like the partials 🙂

For the post-processing details, I did a bit of distortion correction and then did the monochrome editing in Nik Silver Effects.

This post is also going to be the first post where I do a bit of social commentary, in this case, specifically brought about by my photos of City Hall yesterday.

It is shameful that such a beautiful building, with so much history can be allowed to deteriorate like this, pieces are literally falling off.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I pay my taxes, and I would expect certain things in return.  I expect them to clean the drains REGULARLY, I’ve only seen them in our area once since I moved in more than two years ago, I even expect them to maintain the parapets, you know, weeding etc., again, never saw them, and I expect them to maintain City Hall!  even if it was a crappy building, they should do it, but because it is such beautiful architecture, it is not only a good idea to keep the building that houses the governing body of the city in good repair, it is also their social responsibility to ensure that this piece of history is maintained and not become a part of history, relegated to photographs and memories.

Sadly, it may come to the point that restoration may not be an option and the building will probably be replaced by some concrete box with little or no character.  From a photography standpoint, that would be disastrous  🙂

Depth of Field

As I never intended to pursue the art of photography as a profession, I never thought that I should really delve into certain aspects of it, such as the technical work involved or the jargon, or understanding what all the dials and buttons on cameras really do, I just wanted to point the little gadget in the direction of what caught my interest and after I put into the frame what I figure was a good image, press the shutter button and… Voila! I have the photograph I want.  But as with most things in life, it never quite works out that way.

As I got more and more into “taking pictures” I began to concentrate on focusing. and once I did that I noticed that certain things were “sharper” or more in focus than others, and that the general area of “sharpness” varied throughout my photographs, so my landscapes would have a lot of objects sharp, and my portraits would have less objects  being sharp, since I was shooting in Auto, the camera was doing these things automatically, depending on light, and the distance the objects were from the camera., so if the camera was doing it, why should I bother with how its done? Exactly! let the camera do all the work, I say.  Again, it never quite works out that way.

As I paid more and more attention to the photographs that I took, I began to wish that I had gotten more things in focus or less things in focus, and then I had to go and ask how that was done, and I was told about Depth of Field.  Now there are lots of articles on this subject, and if you are interested in really learning all the nitty gritty of DoF, then you should read those, I understand enough to get by but not the whole story.

This is as far as I got and I think it serves me well enough for now, until, of, course, I get the need to do more and need to learn more  🙂

I’ve been taught that there are two types, shallow and wide, those words don’t exactly scream “opposites” to me but, instead of arguing the point, I’ll just accept it.  If they say its a shallow depth of field, they’re referring to the fact that I have fewer things in focus or sharper, and if the say it’s a wide depth of field, they’re referring to the photo having more objects (at varied distances from the camera) in focus.  Sounds straightforward to me, so how do I manipulate it myself?  I apparently need to adjust the “aperture”, oh boy, more things to learn about 🙂

The aperture simply refers to the opening of the lens, how large or how small the opening is, obviously if its larger more light enters and if its smaller less light enters, if you want to know what this has to do with the depth of field, you should read the more technical articles available all over the internet, I won’t even try to explain this one, suffice to say that they’ve come up with a numbering system for describing the aperture size.  Now this is where they first confused me, the smaller aperture is assigned the larger number, and the larger apertures are assigned the smaller number. Why? Think of it as fractions.  If you were not very good at math then you’ll be as confused as I was.  The Aperture settings are described as f/15 and f/2.8, so if you think of the f as 1, then its 1/15th  and 1/2.8, and according to my math teachers if the number at the top is the same, then the fraction with the bigger number at the bottom is actually the smaller of the two.

I call this Shallow Depth of Field, right? maybe?

I actually understand what I’m saying and I’m still confusing myself.  Here’s the gist then, if I ignore the whole fraction thing and just think of the apertures as numbers, then if I want a shallow depth of field I use the smaller numbers, like 2.8, and if I want a wider depth of field I use the larger numbers, like 15.  I like this logic better, narrow = smaller, wide = larger.  I can work with this.  And then they tell me the next thing that happens when I mess with apertures is that, because I’m playing with the size of the aperture, remember this is the opening of the lens, and this will affect not only the depth of field but the “brightness” of the image (OK, fine, exposure), so if I’m shooting in manual mode I need to adjust the Shutter Speed accordingly.  Let’s just say I haven’t gotten to the stage in my learning where I shoot a lot in Manual.  So I set the camera in Aperture Priority (usually a big A on the dial) and let the camera figure out the best shutter speed  🙂

So, if you’ve read this far, you KNOW that I’m not a professional, and you should probably doublecheck EVERYTHING I just said 🙂

What sparked this long explanation of mostly confusion, I was staring at the image in this article, which I had taken back in April.  Speaking of confusion, if someone mentions to you the “Circles of confusion” with regards to Depth of Field, if you don’t understand what I’ve described here, don’t bother, it will only add to the confusion 🙂  If however, you do grasp the gist of things, then, by all means, look up the “Circle of Confusion” and have some fun reading it.

P.S. click on the image to go to the site  🙂

The camera that took the picture. (via Bad Light, Good Light)

I agree with NIkhil on this post, so I thought it a great idea to Repost it.

I often read commentary from a photographer called Ken Rockwell, he’s considered a bit of a nut sometimes, but in this I agree with him, The Camera Doesn’t Matter. That statement may be a bit far-fetched, but when you take it in context you’ll see what he means.

The camera is a tool, just a tool in your arsenal. The photographer has to see the intended shot, set the camera to their desired settings, and compose the final image. Final image may be a bit off the mark since it still has to be processed (whether in a conventional lab or a digital setting), and in this there are “tools” as well at work.

In the old context, guns don’t shoot people, people shoot people, it’s the same with photography, cameras don’t take the photographs, the photographer does.

As for Ken’s bold statement, “The Camera Doesn’t Matter”, it’s like this; since the camera is a tool, the photographer needs to know the limitations of the tool, what it can or can’t do and work within those parameters. You can’t expect to take a point-and-shoot camera made in 2004 and shoot a perfect photo of a moving subject in low light as you probably can now with something like the Nikon D300, but if you know what type of light you get the best photos from with the camera, or if you know the type of images you’ll get with that same camera in lower light then you will know what to expect from the camera and what type of photographs you can expect to produce under those circumstances.
If I know that this old camera will produce a grainy image at night, then I’ll pick a suitable subject and use the grainyness to advantage, maybe by using a sepia type conversion for an “old look” to it.

Again, you can use the old saying, a good workman doesn’t blame his tools, know your tools and what they can do and work within the parameters.

A better camera will not necessarily give you a “better” photograph, but it will be different, it may be clearer, larger, more details maybe, but not necessarily better. You will never see the same scene exactly the same way twice, so you need to make the best use of the tools at your disposal to get the best photo at that time.

The camera that took the picture. Quite often someone sees a photograph of mine and the comment that follows is some variation on; “Hey that is a great photo, what camera do you use?” Different photographers take this question differently, some take great offense, others are more pragmatic. The reason some take offense is because this is the equivalent of asking Michelangelo what brush he used to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. The analogy is exaggerated, of course, for effec … Read More

via Bad Light, Good Light

Sitting in the Rain

I seem to live in a location where the “city” meets the “country“, do they call that the suburbs?

One benefit of living here is that I get to see a little bit of both, I have family living in both sections, as it were.  On occasion, when I am leaving home for work, I would see some birds, usually too far off for me to photograph, but sometimes, they’ll be perched on a nearby fence, or post, or wire (you get the drift) and if I carefully lift my camera I may even get to photograph them without scaring them away first.

Sitting in the Rain
On Graham Hall Road, Cummingslodge, Georgetown.

My favourites are the various hawks that prey on snails from the gutters and trenches in the area, anyone who has seen my photographs  would have seen these quite a few times over the years  🙂  I probably need to try and capture those in new ways, even I am getting tired of just seeing them staring at me  🙂  Quite common, in our area are some types of white birds…  OK, I just noticed that I know nothing of bird nomenclature, if anyone knows where Waldyke Prince is, tell him I need help in this area.  Anyway, back to what I was saying…  there are these white birds,  and once in a while they’ll pose just like the hawks.

I have also found that I don’t take enough photos in the rain, this may have to do with the fact that my camera is now weather-sealed, but still, I don’t do it enough.  My favourite rain shot is still my Fleur de Lis Gate Toppers, which I did twice, once when I used a Canon Powershot S5 and then recently with the Canon Rebel T1i, anyway, enough advertising for Canon,  here is that white bird sitting in the rain  🙂

Of course, if anyone knows the name, common and scientific, I would be grateful for the knowledge.