Every year as the old year ends and new one starts we trying to summarize what we achieved. This first summary chapter of 2018 is focused on landscapes. Some of the travels this year were spectacular and images are amazing. Enjoy the selection of some of the best.
Taking pictures, especially great ones requires time, patience, great eye but also some luck. However, when traveling luck may not always be on your side. When you are driving in a car, you see this amazing view but there is nowhere to stop a car, if you are on a train it will definitely not stop for you. What should you do? Be prepared for unexpected. This way , when you see a great view or wildlife in the distance or by the road, on the road you can be ready to take a picture.
You ask how to do that? Here are some pointers from my trips around Ireland and Iceland:
Always have a camera with you and ready for taking pictures. Obviously, not possible if you are driving, so…
Explore a place with someone, who will be happy to do the driving
Clean the windshield, dirt can make it hard to autofocus
In many places in Ireland and Iceland it was impossible to pull over and stop. Mostly because the roads are narrow, they have no shoulder and traffic is unpredictable so stopping is not an option. Just check out the images below, both from Ireland. Even if the road seems clear do not stop to take pictures if there is no space to pull over.
Now, how can you prepare and what should you do to make those images look the best you can?
Mount a fast lens on your camera, it could be your primary or secondary camera
Using a zoom lens is preferred as you can end up with nice pictures of the dashboard, also being able to zoom in on objects further away can actually get you a nice image
While sitting in a car test the light you get through the windshield and remember that you may be going in different directions or light can change, so adjustment may be needed
You want to use high shutter speed, settings above 1/800 will be preferable, but you could get away with slightly slower speeds too
Use high ISO, that can cause some noise in the images but using ISO 100 is just not a viable option when taking pictures from a moving car or train
You have to use autofocus, manual focus is just not going to do it and best setting is AI Servo setting allowing you to photograph moving objects
In order to make your life easier, you can use Shutter-Priority AE mode if you wish and set your shutter speed to upwards of 1/800 and your camera will adjust the rest when you are taking a picture
Here are some examples of pictures taken through the front windshield of a road ahead. Probably the most classic images you may see also probably the easiest to take. I use a manual mode only, which is a bit more challenging but gives me more control over how I want the image to look.
In most cases if you are driving in a car, you will be in a front seat with your seat belt on and with your primary view being forward. Technically, you can also take pictures to your side, through an open or closed window. Those can be a bit more challenging to get the speed correctly set for the photographing an object of interest. The closer the object is to the car the more likely it will be fuzzy. You can see that effect in the image below, with flowers closest to the road are fuzzy. If you do not get shots you want the first time just keep trying. It is worth it to just practice so next time you can get a great photo.
One other interesting point is that when you taking pictures from a car your horizon can get skewed, so more than likely you will need to do a little bit of rotation of your images.
This last image was actually taken with a Zeiss camera on my Lumia 950, amazingly sharp and beautiful picture of the clouds clearing up. With a phone camera the rules are the same as with a real camera. Do not be afraid to take photos out of a car or train, just remember to set up your camera correctly and practice. Good luck!
Packing up for a trip can be difficult even when you are not taking your photography equipment. However, if you are planning holidays and want to take some of your equipment it can become even more difficult. So let’s look at what you may need on your trip. I will try to divide items into must have, good to have and nice to have. Many items are very basic and you will wonder why I even mention them, but trust me they can be forgotten. The more obvious something is, the more likely we are to forget it. In order to ensure you pack all that is needed you can make a list and follow it when packing the gear.
The lists below are intended for general purpose trip, family holiday or sightseeing trip not a photographic expedition.
Must have items:
camera body of your choice, ones with swivel back screen have an advantage as you do not have to crawl on the ground in mud, water or some other enticing place to take low angled shots
zoom lens allowing you to take decent distance and close up pictures, e.g. 24-105mm lens
charger for the battery and if you have spare, charged batteries; for overseas trips pack also an adapter for the power points
rain protector for the camera and lens, they come in different sizes depending what lens you are using
memory cards with a hard shell case for storage, if you use mini cards, they can be shared between your camera and phone
tripod, a mini one such as GorillaPod works in a number of situations fairly well
backpack or a bag and a lens case, good to invest in ones with rain protection
lens cleaning solution and a cleaning cloth
camera manual – Yes, you may need it
Good to have items:
a set of filters – UV filter, circular polarizer and at least one ND filter, while some people swear against filters, I found them useful to keep sand and dust away from the lens while shooting in poor conditions
second camera body, so you can attach your second lens to it as changing them while shooting pictures becomes tiresome and can lead to problems, especially in windy and dusty conditions
second lens with a lens case, depending on your interests and destination – macro lens, wide angle or a powerful zoom lens
actual tripod – good size, sturdy and lightweight. Yes, such things exist but you may need to spend some serious money if you want a top line tripod. Yet, it is one of the most important items you need in your bag
Nice to have items:
speedlight, can come handy in full sunshine when taking portraits or in dark interiors
third lens for any special objects
closeup filters, while not a substitution for a macro lens, can help you take close-up pictures without a need to change lenses, make sure they fit your largest diameter lens
When choosing lens for travel, you need to consider the weight of the lens as well as its optical quality. I have a Tamron lens 18-270mm, covers a perfect zoom range, takes good quality pictures in bright light, it is light, has a lock to prevent is extending when it is carried around. If I am forced to take a small photo bag and only one lens, due to luggage restrictions, it is a good choice, but a heavier lens with a low aperture f/2.8 or so can give you fabulous images at low light or inside buildings. The choice is really depending on where you going and what you like photographing.
When traveling on holidays, you may need to carry your gear with you, so weight is a big consideration, as is ability to quickly pull it out or put it away. Leaving your gear in cars or hotel rooms can end up with it being stolen, so having only what you can comfortably carry around a city or on a hiking trail is very important.
I have also created a travel checklist which you can download from the Resource page on my website.
The first book that I will show how to create is a Photo Book. I will be creating a book about trip around Ireland. Let’s get started. There will be two parts to this post. In the first one, I will show how to create a book. In the second, we will review book, add finishing touches and upload for printing.
I am using Windows 10 and this is where the images are coming from in my posts. You can use an Apple computer as well for the process, there are also some editors specially for iPad and iPhone. Other software you will need, is an image processing software. It can be anything you like as long as you can create .jpeg or .pngfiles. I use Adobe Lightroom for most of the processing, occasionally also Corel PaintshopPro 2018. You also have an option of importing images from SmugMug.
In Lightroom it is good to create a collection of images you want to use, so picking the ones for the book is easier. This is the most time-consuming part of the creation process. Generally, we have way more images than should be in a book. So how to cut down on this number?
What story you want to tell in your book? Is it about landscapes, architecture, history, friends, family or an event? This should allow you to narrow the number of images.
Which images best represent the story you are telling? Do you want to show images of a historical object with plenty of people or just by itself? Do they show the character of the place you wish to convey?
Pick images that you love for whatever reason. They are obviously important to you. Can you now make a story out of them that will tell someone else something special, show the beauty of the place?
Be adventurous with your images, pick and choose, change them if you want. This is your story, there is no correct or incorrect answer. Play with images, we will be arranging them on pages and you may find that some are better than other in a layout you are creating.
If you created previous books, BookSmart will open the last book created or ask you what you want to do. Select New Book Project, under File in main menu of from the front screen. The first screen will ask for the book title, author and book size. Pick a title, it can be changed later but having a few untitled books on the computer will make things really complicated later. In order to figure out the size of a book and number of pages you want in a book, click on pricing button to see how much a book will cost. Make sure that you are looking at Photo Book pricing as this is what we are creating.
The cover choices available for a selected book format are listed as well. It is possible to select the cover later in the process and you can change your mind up until uploading the book, so do not worry about them right now.
As to the actual book structure and content. In your book of 20 pages, the first page is a title page, second page will be a copyright page and the last page is left empty for the logo. So effectively you will have only 17 pages for your photos and any text you want to add. Depending on price you want to pay for your book you may want to add some more pages or not. If you want to sell the book, a price is also important.
Next step lets you pick an already existing layout or start your book from scratch. I clicked on Start Book Now. This opens-up the editing software on the front page of the cover with information you added at the beginning and this is where you can change it.
On the bottom of the screen is a book navigator. There are two ways of navigating, one on the arrows and the second on clicking the pages you want to edit. Pages can be moved around the book by dragging and dropping them in a new position. New pages can be added from the Add Pages drop down menu. The center of the window is occupied by the book pages. On the left there are alternative layouts and below space for images.
Importing images is not complicated, as long as you know where they are on your computer. Select Get Photos and identify your folder. There you can pick individual photos or import all of them. You can delete any unused images from the import list to clean it up.
As you have noticed the pages of the book show image sections and text sections. The easiest way to make a change to the layout is by choosing a different page layout from the variety of ones already available in the program. If none of them suits you, click on Edit layout and save it as your own with a new name.
Editing the layout is very simple. You can add Image Box, Text Box, resize, duplicate existing containers, bring them to front or send them to the back. The features can be aligned with respect to each other. An important note is that a Display trim guidelines feature should be enabled so no text or image will be layout in a pink area that will be later trimmed.
Now you should be able to make your own layouts and save them so they can be re-used later in your next project.
To Add images to the book, click on the page in book navigator. Once it is highlighted, you can drag the image to the image container. In order to substitute an image, delete it by using backspace and drag a new photo into its place. It is also possible to focus on a part of the image by using Zoom slider. By dragging the image in the container you can select to show just a part of the photo. When adding text, it is better to use a slightly smaller font than you would use in your regular documents. I have usually used 11 point font for main text. Another word of warning, not all fonts are licensed for e-books. At the top of the font palette there are e-book friendly fonts, however, for just printed version you can use any font. There will be time later to proof read a .pdf file to make sure that font is not too large.
It is time to stop now to let you create a book. In the next part we will finish the book and upload it to Blurb. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you have any.
Old Town in Warsaw is one of the most commonly frequented places in Warsaw, especially by tourists. It has changed a lot over the centuries and even over the past few decades. The Old Town was damaged significantly during the WWII and got restored after the war. There were some additional restorations carried out over the last few decades making it look like you see now.
Warsaw castle was damaged during the 1939 war with Germany with famous pictures showing burning clock tower in September 1939. However, it still stood over the city. It got nearly completely blown up after the 1944 Warsaw uprising. When you visit the castle, it is still possible to see reminders of this time in the foundations that survived the war. The castle got rebuild after the war pretty much de novo. It now stands proudly in the Old Town once again. The interiors of the castle have been beautifully reconstructed according to the historical information available.
The castle was an important site not only the royal residence. It was used for the meetings of the Polish parliament. The old meeting room seen here on the left. Later the parliament rooms got moved upstairs. The Senate room now hosts a copy of the Polish Constitution signed on 3rd May 1791. There is also a painting by famous Polish painter Jan Matejko showing the scene after the signing of the Constitution. Many famous people are shown in the painting with the king in the center holding the Constitution.
My favorite room is the marble room hosting portraits of 22 Polish kings painted by Marcello Bacciarelli. It includes the big portrait of last king of Poland – Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
There are many more things to see in the castle, with all the beautiful little decorative details. It is worth a visit to see all the amazing things that are in the castle and learn about its history.
Once you leave the castle most people head to the main square in the Old Town. On your way one of the churches you pass, is the Saint John’s Cathedral. This is the church in front of which Matejko placed the scene seen in his painting of Constitution of May 3, 1791. It also had to be restored after the war, while not completely destroyed it was significantly damaged. It hosts organ concerts in the summer and sometime at other times of the year. The only time that visitors are permitted is when there is no mass celebrated. If you do come inside be respectful as it is a place of worship and not a meeting point, so keep your conversations to a minimum and very quiet.
As you continue along the street you get to the square. The houses surrounding it were also reconstructed after the war. They house a lot of little shops, museums, cafes and restaurants. This square has been pictured in many movies taking place in Warsaw. In wintertime, before Christmas there is a holiday market held here.
In the old days the town was surrounded by the fortifications known as Barbakan. What you can see now is all modern construction, however, it was constructed on the original foundations.
One of the amazing things to do around the Old Town is walk on the little streets, stop in for a coffee, go into a church, visit many little shops or just explore. It is fun, you get to see many beautiful houses, decorations and some streets offer views of the river.
Come and enjoy your time in the Old Town. After starting here, you can explore the other royal residences in Warsaw.