Regina Pizzeria – Canon G15
After a few days in Boston asking random people I happened to talk to about which restaurant they felt I absolutely must eat at while in Boston, the consensus seemed to be on Regina Pizzeria in Little Italy. This is a seemingly nondescript corner location, very easy to miss were it not for the constant line of people outside waiting for a table, often stretching around the block. I highly recommend stopping by off-hours. I chose to stop by right after a heavy rain storm. I figured there would be nobody outside waiting in the rain. It was also a late Sunday afternoon. Even then all the tables were occupied, so I made a beeline for the very small bar in the corner. It was Perfect.
The staff were quick, friendly, short and often times entertaining. In an establishment such as this, there are no pretenses. You would do well to know what you want. There is little hand-holding. The menu is simple and if you still can’t make up your mind just order that day’s special. The atmosphere is very relaxed and un-apologetically unpretentious. I ordered a glass of red wine with my pizza and the bartender immediately informed me the wine was freshly squeezed from the mop that morning…LOL!!! My kind of joint! The selection was mostly from the California North Coast so I figured it was it can’t be that bad. I could be biased though. 🙂
I had some great conversation with the staff and other traveling patrons who stopped by for a slice of Boston’s finest. The pizza here is some of the best tasting I have had. It is that good. It has a certain warmth that comforts and makes you feel like everything will be okay. I can now see why Bostonians recommend this joint. Here are a few highlights:
Whenever you’re done enjoying your pizza, I highly recommend going for an endless walk and getting lost in all the streets and alleyways of Little Italy. For a moment I felt as though I was somewhere in Europe like Paris or Madrid. The architecture is so old and well preserved. It amazed me that all these buildings were still fully occupied by everyday folks. A true testament to the men who built them and their craft. Below are some random shots. Another highly recommended eatery was Mike’s Pastries. It is a true landmark establishment. As far away as 5 blocks, I began noticing people with Mike’s Pastry boxes. As suggested, I merely walked in the opposite direction of those people and eventually ended up at Mike’s Pastry, however the traffic/crowd there was insurmountable. I shall make it a point to visit them next time I’m in Boston.
After hauling my camera gear with me all week I needed a break. I only took my Canon Powershot G15 out with me this time. It performed spectacularly for any point and shoot and gave me lots of creative options. The RAW files aren’t much different than those from my DSLRs and allowed me to recover some of the highlights and shadows. I’m impressed. I’ve posted before about that camera here: Sweet Deal: Canon Powershot G15
Crimson sunset over Boston – Canon 5D Mark III + EF 24-105mm f/4
This past Wednesday the fog and rain gave way for partly cloudy skies over Boston. What this meant for me was spectacular light shows at sunset, depending on what types of clouds were forming overhead. Usually this kind of weather leads to higher altitude clouds, the best kind. At sunset they reflect the red sunset light from the horizon back down against a backdrop of clear blue skies. The full spectrum of colors are just magical, a real treat.
All you have to do is show up about an hour before sunset, find a good vantage point, kick back and enjoy the magic hour. I spent some time on my flight and in the airports planning this shot, looking for the right perspective on the city at sunset and also the best unobstructed view of the skyline. Fortunately this key vantage point happens to be a public park. Thank you City of Boston for protecting this view for all! I often have to go places I really shouldn’t go, and the risks to myself and my gear are really not necessary – however often worth the shot.
Fine tuning manual focus on the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 before starting the HDR time lapse
Sunset was around 8:30pm. I arrived the North Harbor before 7pm and scouted a bit before settling on this view. By 7:30pm I had configured and set off the 7D Mark II for a 3 hour HDR time lapse. What an amazing camera. When properly configured, you can save days of post processing time when doing HDR time lapse photography. I hope to post a how to on this soon. With the 7D Mark 2 on time lapse duty and time to spare before magic hour, I turned to setup the 5D Mark III.
Magic Hour is here!
I brought the beastly EF 300mm f/2.8L IS Mark II on this trip, however it was a bit too long for this scene. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II would have been better suited. So I resorted to the trusted and versatile EF 24-105mm f/4L IS. It allowed me to switch from wide to telephoto with relative ease and enough detail for a signature high resolution panoramic shot. From this point on, with all my settings dialed in, it was pretty straight forward. So I just enjoyed the view and captured the magic. I am pleased with the shots I got and will be posting sneak peeks as soon as get them processed.
The final shots will be released as Limited Edition fine art canvas prints. The HDR time lapse shots will eventually be available as 4K video for anyone to license and use in their projects/productions. The video will also eventually accompany all limited edition prints in the form of a DVD screensaver. Here are some behind the scenes shots from this outing.
Managed to fit it all into the LowePro!
Setting up the 7D Mark II for HDR time lapse
Fine tuning manual focus on the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 before starting the HDR time lapse
All setup and ready for Magic Hour
Magic Hour is here!
I’m always behind the camera and forget to get proof that I was actually there! …LOL
Beautiful color changes
Quick panorama shot with phone.
Where was this shot taken?
Vancouver at Sunset via Olympic Village, False Creek – Canon 5D Mark III + Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
If you ever visit Vancouver BC, do take a stroll around Olympic Village at sunset. The views of the skyline are breathtaking. The people are friendly and outgoing. The air is crisp and water always calm. This makes for an almost magical visual experience. This is really why I do this – being able to personally immerse myself in, witness such beauty all around me and capture it. It is priceless.
Below are some behind the scenes shots. This shot will most definitely make it to large format limited edition print. Have you been to or live in Vancouver? What were some of your favorite views on the city? Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Vancouver at Sunset via Lonsdale Quay – Canon 5D Mark III + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
A while ago I took a quick trip up to Vancouver for the weekend. Ever since I looked up this city I fell in love with this skyline. It is so beautiful and picturesque from every angle. The entire bay offers breathtaking views. The air is always fresh, clean and crisp, often times even when overcast (as it very often is) or raining. This my friend, is Vancouver! I researched this view from Lonsdale Quay Market before arriving and it did not disappoint. The 200mm focal length was a bit on the short side but it allowed me to frame some of the city light reflections on the water as well as the clouds which were less than ideal, but nothing ever works out as planned. The water did however calm down at just the right moment during “magic hour” and the city revealed itself. I was more than ready to capture it!
I shot this panoramic with the Canon 5D Mark III and EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens. It is composed of 9 HDR shots each composed from brackets of 3 extended exposure shots. I did this to normalize the water surface as much as possible and limit ghosting on the surface. The final panorama is about 120 Megapixels. I shot an HDR time lapse of the entire sunset with the 7D Mark II. I used a new technique made possible by 7D Mark II’s speed and image processing power which I hope to document on here at some point.
Below are some behind the scenes shots of my travel setup. The shot above will most likely make it to limited edition print. It still needs a little clean-up work. Please feel free to leave any questions, thoughts, feedback or ideas you may have. As always thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Setup in time for sunset after scouting the Quay
5D Mark III + 70-200/2.8L IS II on the left, 7D Mark II + 17-55/2.8 IS on right, Manfrotto travel tripods.
Magic hour approaching
Bingo! Show time! Extended exposure HDR panoramic.
Las Vegas Sunset Panoramic
About a month ago I had the unique opportunity to photograph the Las Vegas skyline at sunset from a helicopter (video here). This was the shot I envisioned. It took 20 shots to make this 240+ megapixel high resolution panorama. Each shot itself a composite of multiple shots. I must say while it may not be readily apparent, this is in fact the hardest most challenging photo I have taken yet. Simply getting to where I could take the shot, took several days.
Once in the air, strapped in and hanging out the door of the helicopter, an avalanche of constantly changing variables stood in the way of me getting a clear shot. Back at my workstation, it took me several days to stitch the final composite shots manually (all other tools simply failed). Editing the photo came close to impossible as the base file exceeded 1.5GB (Gigabyte) in size. Layers simply had to be committed and split into multiple 1.5GB files totaling 7GB in image files.
My 8-Core 4.2GHz workstation maxed-out it’s 16GB RAM every time I opened just one of the files and often crawled as it tried to handle editing the the 40,000 x 6000 pixel layers in real time. I am not quite sure what format to make this shot available, but I do know it will be a limited edition print.
This shot was taken with the Canon 7D Mark II using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens. It was taken from about 1500 feet out the side of a helicopter. My experience with aerial photography has been a humbling one so far. It makes every other genre of photography I’ve done so far look like walk in the park.
Los Angeles skyline after sunset via Griffith Observatory
It’s finally ready! A few months ago I made quick weekend trip down to Los Angeles to visit my sister. I also took some time to explore the cityscape and attempt to get a good capture of the skyline at sunset. I posted a about my visit to the Griffith Observatory as well.
I quickly realized my biggest challenge would be the weather or should I say atmosphere over the city. There is a constant smog haze over the city from dawn till dusk and depending on weather conditions, it will often persist well into the night. I also packed very light for the weekend jaunt. I took just my Canon 5D Mark III, Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8, EF 24-105mm f/4L and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. I definitely wished for my 7D or 7D Mark II as I would’ve captured way more detail.
Magic hour was more like a magic minute. By the time I was done taking my shots from left to right, it was a completely different scene. I took 60 shots in all to compose 20 final HDR shots and stitched them together to give this 200 megapixel 1.5GB panorama. This image demanded especially painstaking processing because each bracket set has to be re-adjusted for color balance and exposure in addition to typical post processing. The 5D Mark III’s high dynamic range definitely came in handy here however the prime reason for the extreme disparity was also because of the 5D mark III’s slow shutter and image processing capability (compared to say the 7D Mark II). I simply could not traverse the scene fast enough. The entire panorama had to be re-composed over and over again as I slowly matched each set.
While some work remains to be done, I am pleased with the final result. The detail is staggering. I often entertain myself looking through these high resolution panoramas for the one guy taking a smoke on a balcony or the lady sitting at her dining table having dinner. Perhaps they will never know in that moment they were frozen in time and at the moment I took the shot I had no idea they were there. It is humbling…
This shot will make it to Limited Edition print. I am still not sure about the format and size. Please let me know any thoughts and feedback you may have.
Thanks for stopping by.
Los Angeles sunset from Griffith Observatory
UPDATE: You can see my final shot from this outing in my post Los Angeles after sunset.
Last weekend I made a quick trip down to Los Angeles to visit my sister. It was long overdue. Of course one of the top items on my agenda for the weekend was to get a good high resolution panoramic of this captivating city and culture incubator. Given my limited stay on this trip, I did some research on possible locations that offered a good vantage point on the city. After much consideration, I made a safe bet on Griffith Observatory.
I highly recommend a visit to the observatory. Not just for visitors but also for anyone living in Los Angeles (most just don’t even know it exists…LOL) There are some really cool exhibits inside, telescope observations, breathtaking views of the city, a cafe, gift shop and hiking trails. The weather is also quite pleasant up in the mountains where it is located. It offers a great way to spend an evening relaxing. I suggest taking a cab ride as opposed to driving. Parking is going to be a challenge. I used the Uber private driver service and it was a $16 well spent indeed.
This was going to be a quick trip so I only packed my 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, and Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8. I also packed a small Manfrotto tripod. I wasn’t very satisfied with how far I could reach with the full frame 5D Mark III – one of the many little things I miss about the 7D. The final panoramic came out great but I did not get as much specific detail as I would have liked. Nonetheless a great shot. It is still in processing/editing and will release to limited print once it’s ready. In the meantime, here is a shot just before sunset I would like to share with you (above) and a few others below.
Thanks for stopping by.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Also known as the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, this is a must visit destination if you are ever in the Washington DC area. It was really nice to see the space shuttle in person. I had seen the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird in person once before at the San Diego Aerospace Museum but not this up close. It really gave me a sense of the scale and marvel of engineering. After seeing the Blackbird and the Space Shuttle Discovery I was even more impressed by the sheer size and engineering feat that the Concorde was, especially considering the era in which it was built and the fact that it was entered into commercial service. These three feature air/space craft cast by far the longest shadows at the museum. They are a true testament to the sheer determination, passion, brains, brawn and guts of engineers of old with little more than slide rules and a clear uncluttered vision.
There is a also a great observation tower with 360 degree view with great plane spotting opportunities as various aircraft approach both Dulles airport runways on both sides. I did not get any good shots while up in the tower, however I will definitely go for a plane spotting outing here, next time i visit DC. All shots were taken handheld with the Canon 5D Mark-III + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens using in camera HDR processing, no post processing other than watermark and resizing using GIMP Batch Image Processing.
Below are the highlights from my tour of the Museum and a large panorama of the Concorde.
Denver CO Skyline at sunset
Almost a year ago I had to commute to Denver every week for close to two months in the fall. It was an interesting experience. Prior to that I had never been to Denver. My first week was a bit of an eye opener. Out there in the middle of Colorado’s vast expanse and emptiness lies this large sprawling city a few minutes from the Rockies. The city is bubbling with culture, diversity and enterprise. It has a laid back, very progressive feel. The citizens of Denver have invested heavily in their city and it shows. It is very beautiful and mostly well thought out. There is almost always some kind of major event or festival in this culture hub.
Naturally by my second week I was hauling all my camera gear with me. My camera bag barely passes as carry-on. I spent my evenings tirelessly scouting the city for that perfect view and perspective. I believe every city has at least a few. I am happy say I did indeed find a few of them and will be making them available in limited edition prints. Although the city is mostly very calm quiet and safe, my exploits did take me though some rough turns and alleys that had me looking over my shoulder all night. I will most definitely be returning to Denver again in the future to explore more of this beautiful state.
Denver CO Skyline via rail yards after sunset
Point Arena Lighthouse
Point Arena Lighthouse is one of the views that make any trip up the North Coast of California worth the while. It is absolutely breathtaking at all times of the day. This trip was more of a scouting exercise to determine what subjects I wanted to return to and give a full treatment. I will be making a trip back up the north coast specifically for this view. The above is a down sampled image if a 300 Megapixel HDR panorama.
I only allowed myself about an hour to explore this location but after taking my test/scouting shots I couldn’t help but notice the birds swooping down between my position and the lighthouse. I thought just for fun I would try and see if I could catch one of them perfectly positioned with the lighthouse in the background. I set the 5D Mark III to AV mode, AF to center zone, AI Servo for tracking, ISO-400 to ISO-800 for maximum shutter speed. It turned out to be harder than I thought but I did get a few fairly successful shots. Here is one of them. Under these more than ideal lighting conditions the 5D Mark III definitely kept up easily with half the shots. I still missed the 7D’s amazing AF tracking capabilities however. Still this is a very powerful lens and body combination.
For this location I shot with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. For the second half of this session I added the EF 2X extender III.
Point Arena bird in flight