Self portrait Aphorisms #170

Self portrait

Self portrait

“ Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

“All my photographs are portraits—self-portraits, because you can’t photograph someone without reflecting/echoing, like a bat sending out a signal that comes back to you. You get not only a picture of who you’re photographing, but you get a picture of yourself at the same time.”

Bruce Davidson, photographer

You can use all kind of creative things to inspire yourself beyond the stereotypical self portrait. Browse Flickr or some other photography web site, try one of the numerous inspiration groups that give daily or weekly self portrait challenges. It can end up being serious or silly, but you might be amazed at what comes to mind when you set out with a purpose.

This is one of those arguments that, much like Nikon vs. Canon, gets people up in arms: Is it a real self portrait if your face is not in the picture? I firmly believe that it can indeed be a self portrait even if you are simply showing your hand or your foot or what have you. If you don’t feel like having your face in front of the camera, show people something else!

Tell me about your own self portrait ideas!

Here is a cool web site with lots of examples:–photo-5689

“Tempus fugit.” Macro Photography Anatomy of a watch #169

1. Hamilton 992 railroad pocketwatch

1. Hamilton No. 992 railroad model

Let me introduce you to my treasured pocket watch manufactured circa 1930’s. This is a railroad grade watch still running strong. It is the marvel of mechanical efficiency representing the pinnacle of the now defunct American watch-making industry. The 992 was manufactured to the highest quality of construction complying to the rigours of railroad service  by the legendary Hamilton Watch Co., Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The last cleaning-oiling- adjusting was done by Mark Siriani master watchmaker, Kane, Pennsylvania in March of 2009. In addition he replaced the chipped roller jewel and adjusted the stuff/balance wheel.

You see on the 1st picture a double sunk, partial Montgomery porcelain dial and a fine set of original deep blued railroad approved hands. The case is made of 10 Karat rolled gold.

2. Back side open

2. Back side open

Here is movement of the 992:

3/4 damaskeened plate, 21 ruby jewels in gold settings, double roller escapement, bi-metallic compensating screw balance, sapphire pallets, gold center wheel,  steel escape wheel, Breguet hairspring, micrometric regulator, adjusted to temperature, isochronism and 5 positions.

3. Detail of the movement

3. Detail of the movement

Here is the center wheel  in the middle and the balance wheel in the left lower corner.

4. The heart of the watch

4. A view of the escapement (heart of the watch)

You can study the details of the balance, the blue hair spring, the impulse pin, the lever and the pallets and the  micro regulator.

5. Another detail

5. Another detail

Here is part of the inscription of the watch on the nice damaskeened plate.

Hope you enjoyed the dissection of this fine timepiece. Let me know if you have an old pocket watch and still using it!

Macro photography

Macro photography is fun and a whole new world is waiting for you to discover it.

The first two photos were taken by a Nikkor 105mm 2.8 Ai-S  micro manual focus lens on a tripod at aperture f/8 and f/5.6 respectively under natural light. The last three shots were taken by the same lens at aperture f/16,  mounted a Nikon No. 4T close-up lens in front of it. The 4T is a doublet, that is a two-element, achromatic design for better image quality.

Always use a lens in manual focus mode on a tripod when doing macro photography! Focus very carefully to the primary detail of your subject because the depth of field is very narrow! Here are a couple of  great websites for introduction to macro photography:

Exotic vs. familiar #111


1. Exotic , Lake Bled in the Slovenian Alps


2. Exotic-idyllic retreat on the way to Grossglockner in the Austrian Alps


3. Familiar– just boring brooms


4. Familiar– the ubiquitous fork and plate (after Andre Kertesz)

You hit the wall. The creative juices aren’t flowing. You are desperate. You struggle to find a new subject to photograph. You have a day job and a family and can’t just embark on that dream photography expedition. You are not a professional guy with exceptional commissions and unlimited resources.

Now the question is what to do? How important is to travel to an exotic location to make that proverbial picture postcard perfect shot (picture 1 & 2)? We all know in real estate location, location and location is what makes the difference. However, I am not sure that this is true in photography. You might not need to travel around the globe to get that shot we all dream about. A familiar object around you (picture 3 & 4) may be a great subject. You just need to use your imagination and creativity.  Open your eyes and look around, get closer to the everyday subjects, watch for the details, use selective focus, diagonal composition or repetitive pattern (picture 3), play with the light and shadow (picture 4)  and you discover a whole new world to photograph in your own house, backyard and neighborhood. No need to go too far.

I have just discovered a great site where you can find ample example of great shots of the exotic and the familiar:

Now the topic is open to discussion. If you like photography I want to hear from you. Did you ever feel you lost your creative energy? Did you ever struggle to make that great shot? Share your story!

Look for the light.

Happy shooting.


Bokeh #100

What is bokeh?

Bokeh is a Japanese word meaning blur or haze. In photography it means the aesthetic quality and feeling of the smooth, fuzzy, blurred, hazy, out-of-focus background or foreground not competing with the main subject. Bokeh could be defined as the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. Very subjective quality and difficult to describe. When you see it, you know it.

Bokeh depends on:

1. Large aperture of the lens: f/1.8. f/1.4, f/1.2

2. Focal length of the lens: 85mm, 105mm, 200mm

3. Nine diaphragm blade lens

4. Distance of subject

5. Distance of background

Some lenses have famously excellent bokeh, including Nikon 85mm f/1.4 D or G (The cream machine), Nikon 105mm f/2.0 DC (defocus control), Nikon 135mm f/2.0 DC, Canon 50mm f/1.2, etc.

Let us look at a couple of sample images.


f/1.8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 100, 85mm

Notice the smooth, blurred, pleasing background. The blur circles have smooth edges.


f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO 100, 85mm

Look at the nice fuzzy foreground and background here.

Here are some great sites for further reading:$file/cln35_bokeh_en.pdf

In summary, Bokeh is a great photographic tool to make your pictures unique and


Long exposure photography #99

Did you ever try Long Exposure (LE) photography? If not, experiment, it is time to do it! LE provides you with a whole new dimension of photography. Everything moving, such as clouds, water, tree branches become wonderfully fuzzy and silky smooth. You will record something nobody can see by naked eye! It is like a miniature time capsule. Fascinating! It adds mood and atmosphere to your photography. By definition the exposure must be minimum 30 seconds. The only way to do it to have a neutral density filter.

Now let’s see how does it work?


30 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 16mm. B+W ND110 77mm (10 stop neutral density) filter

Notice the fuzzy and smooth clouds and tree branches.

Now the same shot without 10 stop neutral density filter.


1/45 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm

See the difference? Let’s do another comparison.


120 sec, f/22, ISO 1oo, 16mm, B+W ND110

See how nice silky smooth is the creek.

Now check out the same shot without the filter.


1/25 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm

Finally, here is my favorite LE comparison so far.


30 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm, B+W ND110

See the beautiful and expressive silky smooth clouds and creek. Nice, isn’t it?

The next shot is done with no filter.


1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm

Not bad however this shot is missing that extra mystic and magic quality.

Next, what do you need for LE photography?

1. Tripod

2. Wide angle lens, minimum 24 mm or wider IMHO.

3. 10 and/or 6 stop filters. Various screw on or filter holder system brands available, eg. B+W, Lee, Hitech, Hoya, etc. You may stack a 10 stop and a 6 stop filter. More than two filters may deteriorate picture quality.

4. Landscape with moving elements, eg. clouds, water, grass, tree branches. The best possible location is probably the seashore. Unfortunately I am pretty far from it…  😦

5. Golden hour, dawn, dusk. You can’t do it at noon so get up really early! Windy weather after a storm is a plus.

6. Small aperture, eg. f/16-f/22 and minimum 30 seconds exposure up to minutes.

7. Make your composition off filter. You won’t see anything when the filter is on!

8. Calculations. First, check exposure time without filter, then adjust exposure 10 or whatever stop plus after switching to manual mode. Always use the same aperture! Apply filter.

9. Use self timer mode or cable/electronic exposure release. Don’t touch the camera during exposure!

10. Experiment! Add extra 1-2 stop. Trial and error.

11. At home use software to tweak your best shots. Perhaps convert it to black and white.

That’s it folks.

First it may look complicated but with time it will become your second nature.

See more info below on #72 Variations on a subject

Finally, some great sites for further reading:


Don’t hesitate, let me know your personal experience!

#72 Variations on a subject

Four pictures about the same subject and four different impressions!

How is it possible?

We photographers have all sorts of tools and tricks to manipulate the mood of the subject. Change the exposure time, convert it to black and white, make the colors warm or cool, place the horizon in the dead center or along the upper third, use certain filters, shoot at various seasons or time of the day or under changing weather conditions, etc and you will never capture the same mood. Furthermore, looking at the same picture we might have different impression about it depending on our own mood! The following method is my new favorite one.


Just recently discovered LE as you can see it on picture # 3 and 4. This creative technique is getting more and more popular. Like it myself for several reasons:

A. It has a cool simplifying effect on the composition creating wonderfully abstract and strongly graphical pictures.

B. You capture something with LE you just don’t see with your naked eyes. You record the passage of time creating ethereal, atmospheric-looking images with implied mood.  The effects are mysterious and surprising, the images are packed with intrigue.

So, check out the following shots, pick your own favorite one and tell me, why?


1.Warm colors


2. Cool colors


3. Color, long exposure (using B+W 77 mm 110 ND 3.0 1000 X=10 stop filter)


4. Black & white, long exposure

More on LE photography here: