How to get Long Exposure Light trails In a HDR image.

        One of my Favorite places to shoot and just explore is the streets of Shibuya. So last week i wanted to re-create one of my images that i took earlier this year but this time i wanted to have the traffic coming towards me with long light trails coming towards me.  So i started to look around the area and looking on 500PX i found a few images that had the look i was trying to get. However i wanted to do a HDR of it and put my little spin on it. So i had a place and a plan on how to go after this new shot i have been thinking of. Here is the image (pictured below) that i was wanting to re-create that i did after i seen Trey Ratcliff image.
My first shot of the intersection.

So i took the local train to Shibuya station and went to the spot that i had picked out earlier that week. It was a little median that divided the lanes of traffic heading north and south. So i went to the spot and started to set up my gear and looking for the best composition that would show off the local area and get the light trails of the traffic that i was looking to capture.  I set up my Canon 5D Mark III with my 17-40 F4L on my Manfrotto 293A4 tripod. I really enjoy this set up and how handle and what i put it through.  I started to use a remote timer over the last few weeks to reduce camera moment and get that sharper image i look for and it working just fine. Its the Neewer LCD Timer Shutter Release Remote Control.  Its a fraction of the price of the name brand Cannon remote, but it works just the same as the high end one. The only down side is that there is no ON/OFF switch so you have to remove a battery to keep it from draining the battery when not in uses.  Here is a video of what the whole set up looks like in action.

Now that we have seen the whole set up to capture the images that i needed. I set up the Camera to do a set of 5 exposures to try and capture all the dynamic range of light in this area.
Final Image

6 images that i used.
I shot a -2 / -1 / 0 / +1 / +2  for 5 shots plus 1 shot at -4 for just the highlights of the signs.  But that hard part of this was just trying to time it just right for the light trails i was looking for since i  was working with shutter speeds of 1 secs or more.  I think it took about 7 or 8 attempts to get the buses and the streaks in the right part of the frame. I wanted to get the light trails very close to me in the frame but still leading back towards the intersection.  Best thing i have learned from doing this kind of stuff is just being patient and good things will come to you. Cause right when i was about to give up, I had 2 buses go by at the same time! how cool is that!!!!
     So now i have the images with the light trails that i been wanting to capture. All i have to do now is create the image that i have been wanting to create.  I use Photomatix/Lightroom 5/Photoshop CS6/ and NIK plugins. I know that its a lot of software use to create one final image but every single one has something that i need from it. I could make a very long video just on editing but i will leave that for another day. till then, get out there and explore!

How to shoot through a window and not get a reflection!

Sorry its been some time since i last posted something. I have been working a lot and trying to get out and do something, However the rainy season is upon us here in japan. SO its a lot of staying indoors and out of the rain. I was able to get away from work and went out with my wife for some amazing dinner in Korean town in Tokyo and on the way back we went through Shinjuku. I have been seeing this shoot that i been wanting to get for a very long time but i could not find the right spot for it. This time i went and found a "good" location for it. Needless to say that it was behind some dirty glass. So i did my little trick that is so very simple it can be done in 3-4 steps.

Step 1: take camera and take off hood.

Step 2: place lens against glass.

Step 3A: if not flat against glass, place some clothing that is dark over camera and lens that is also touching glass. 

Step 3B: take photo.

So very simple!!! Step 3A can be a pain but if you got a jacket, just place it over your head and your camera and place your hands over the whole set up to kinda shield the camera away from any lights. this should do the trick.

well here is a little video on how i was able to capture this image.

How to create a TimeLapse with a GoPro and a Egg Timer.

A while ago i picked up a GoPro Hero 3 black edition just for the pure reason that every one had one. I found that it took some amazing video that gave me a different view that i could not have gotten from a large DSLR. So as a photographer at heart i played with it taking still images.  It takes images at 4,000x3,000 pixels (12 Megapixels) and does it just fine so this camera and lens set up its not that bad to start with.
     First things first, how to set up the camera. You go to the time lapse setting on your Gopro. Once you get on that menu it will ask you what setting you want the GoPro to take a image, what it mean is the interval on how often it will take a image.  Right now it will take a image every 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds.  here is a little cheat sheet that i use when i want to find out how often i need to fire the camera.

1 second
Moving traffic, Fast moving clouds Drivelapses

1 – 3 seconds Sunsets, Sunrises, Slower moving clouds, Crowds, Moon and sun near horizon (or telephoto) Things photographed with a telephoto
15 – 30 seconds Moving shadows, Sun across sky (no clouds) (wide) Stars (15 – 60 seconds)
Longer Fast growing plants (ex vines) (90 – 120 seconds) Construction projects (5min – 15min)

Once you select your time interval that you want. set the camera down and wait. You can also place the GoPro on a egg timer(something that move very even and slow) to create a moving time lapse.  So now you let your camera shoot for about 30 mins and you have all these files on the GoPro and you now need to get them into a video.  This video below will show you how to do it, Please watch and enjoy!


Big things to take away from this is that you need to make it smooth.  If you have done everything right and take the images at the wrong interval it will end up being choppy and that is not very pleasant to the eye.  So i try and keep this little set up in my bag so when i out taking still images with my main camera like this one.  I can still create something on the side that requires just me starting and stopping it.

So i hope you enjoyed this and i hope that you will go out and try this sometime. At the end of the day i love to have as much media that i can have from one location. Even if it never sees the light of day, i still have it for a later day to enjoy or even edit when i found a new way to edit things.  I leave you all with this video that i took with a GoPro and a Iphone 5s. 

Life after Marlbaro Black Book Photo Contest.

     First things first! A little recap on how this all came about.  Last year as i was wondering the streets of New York City  and i got a email from Marlboro. I was dumbfounded by this email. I opened it up and low and behold it said that i was a finalist of the Black Book Photo Contest. I almost dropped my phone on the streets of NYC when i seen this. I wrote this contest off months before this just thinking that i had no chance at this.  So after i called up the nice lady at Marlboro and said that i had 2 days to turn in the required paper work so i can keep my spots was a little nerve wracking. Ok, with that said lets fast forward to now. Here are some images that i posted on my facebook. Got a Welcome package and here is a image of the gear that i won. I did walk away as a winner of 2 of the 4 contest that we competed in. Winning the Model shoot really made me want to get more into portraits.

Welcome Package from Marlboro

The Gear i was given to work with.

     So i am home now(Tokyo) and enjoying every moment out here. Exploring every weekend and just trying to move to the next level in my photography. I feel like i have upped it to the next level and am creating images that am very happy with. I figured out a new work flow that lets me back up, import, edit very fast in different programs, and export and back up in different places very fast.  To compare this to what i was doing before, well lets just say i that i have cut down my time spent in front of the IMac from "8 Hours" to maybe 1-2 hours for a editing session.
        I now also started to use Iphoto to help organize my photos more then just a folder that says "done images". It lets me rename and add a description PLUS add a location to it also. I can export also to different media sites like my Flickr and my Smug-mug site with just a click of a button now. Saving me time that i could use in other places. I did this cause the fact that if i do want to take it to the next level i must be efficient with my time.  
Image taken with the Iphone 5S in Tokyo.
I plan on working more strobist type images and time lapse Photography. Both are something that i really want to get my feet wet in. I feel like images with off camera lighting and done right just look amazing. You can recreate window light if you don't have any or create a point of focus on a subject with just a simple flash. With time lapse video, I think every one thinks the same thing as i do.... Its Freaking Awesome!  I feel like i have got a good hold on Landscape images but i can always improve on it.

Some of my new landscape shots
My street Photography stuff.
Last but not least is that am starting to get more into street photography. I love that you can capture a moment of time, showing some ones reaction. I am working on a "secret" Project that i should be posting here in the near future. So if you have any other questions, feel free to just ask.


Photographing Shinjuku

Shinjuku has lots to offer compared to the other parts of Tokyo.  It's the home of the famous Yakitori Alley, Tokyo metropolitan building, and several other great spots to see and love. The area is full of bright neon lights and the fast past movements of thousands of business men and women, people taking buses to far away locations, and high-end shoppers with garage bands singing their hearts out on the streets. This place has every thing you could ask for and so much more.
       If you are like me and take the train every time you want to get around, this train station is very large and could have you looking for the right exit, real fast!  So, you are out of the train station itching to get some great photos. I am a Landscape photographer at heart and this place has so many look outs. From the walk bridges and tall buildings that surround shinjuku, you could be here for weeks and never find them all.  One of my favorite spots is the Tokyo metropolitan building. The few reasons are 1. It's tall, 48 floors in total. 2. You can see and photograph Skytree, Tokyo Tower, and all the buildings around it. 3. The best reason of all.......  IT IS FREE! In Tokyo this is so freaking rare. The only 2 downsides to this place is the fact that you can't use a Tripod and the south tower closes early. I would say that this place is a very solid place to come and see for an amazing rooftop type shots of tokyo.
If you want to Grab a bite to eat and take a few images, then Yakitori Alley is your next stop.  This place is filled with little hole in the walk type BBQ shops. Think of a 6 x 12 foot little shop with a bar and a few stools for you to sit on and a very interesting person behind the bar cooking and serving beer.  If you want to capture some real honest reactions of random people, then Yakitori Alley is the perfect place for it. The light in side of this place is dramatic and some what bright from all the bar bulbs and neon lights. This is just a fun place to see and enjoy. Must see and do! it's only a 3 min walk out of the east or west exit to the north side of the station.

I could go on about "This spot" or "That spot" but i would rather you go out and explore it yourself. I found that if you just go out and just wonder the streets, you will find new spots that no one has ever thought of shooting before, or you can just find a spot that everyone else has shot to death.

Last thing i would say is that this place is a Street Photographer's heaven. There are all kinds of people that hang around this area of Tokyo.  Am talking about an old lady with a $8,000 hand bag, and god knows how much else she has on her to the homeless guy right next to her. Then right down the street are a bunch of drunk 20 somethings coming out of Yakitori Alley. So please, get out and have fun. It's well worth the trip to this amazing spot!