Tag Archives: Canon 550D

Dedication 2

If you are taking the time to read this post then please refresh yourself with Dedication 1 before continuing.

So as you would have now seen and read, HDR photography is not that easy and I have come a long way since attempt 1 in November 2012.

My post on 26 November 2012 stated: “One day I will look at my first two “HDR” photos and have a good chuckle!”. I am chuckling now (one year and two months later) and have done so in the past few months.

I believe that I am at least halfway to nearly three-quarters of the way there; there being when I surpass some of the HDR hotshots in the world.

Robin Sharma is partly to “blame”. He came to Durban on 27 July 2013. I attended his seminar and on the following Monday started waking up at 5 AM. Nothing really happened to start with. After a few weeks I started concentrating even more on my photography.

To continue with this story I have inserted an excerpt of an email I sent Robin Sharma: “The benefits of waking at 5 aren’t known until you actually wake at 5. Even then it still doesn’t click into place until you have a 5 o’ clock mission (something worthwhile to do).
I tried the reading thing and exercise. The latter worked well for me but not the former. Instead, I tried photography.
In summer in South Africa you have to get up at 3 AM if you want to travel and be setup for photos at 1st light.
My 5 o’clocks have now become 3 o’clocks on weekends if the weather plays game. Alternatively I turn on the computer and process photos. Both stimulate my creative juices and there’s a big bonus at the end if what I produce looks really cool.”
I went on to tell Robin that my photography has now met some measure of success, although I didn’t know at the time that three of my photos would soon place well in the VSS CREATIVE virtual camera club competition (more info here).
It’s been revealed that the TOP 10 of every month in every section will soon be published in the biggest “SA Creative Photography Book”.
I was taken aback when the photo below took 2nd place in November 2013.
VSS Top 10 Pictorial_2nd place

Truthfully, I was gobsmacked when the photos below ripped 1st and 2nd place in the same category and month.

Hein Waschefort of VSS, and director of the Photographic Society of South Africa, commented that he believed that it was the first time that someone had taken the top two spots in the same category and month.


The gobsmacked was 99.9% from being judged “ahead” of what I saw to be some super-hot works of art published by other photographers.


The “hilarious” side:

Two of the photos were taken with my “old” Canon 550D camera that is now worth about ZAR 6,000.00 new. Only one photo was taken with my new Canon 6D which recently set me back ZAR 28,000.00.

As I said in Dedication 1: Have a lovely week at work and if the going gets a little tough remember: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

VSS Top 10 Pictorial_2nd place - all


Andy is Greatly Inspired

My skills have gone up one notch at least. I’m still not super hot at my HDR processing but damn it dude – I’m certainly improving slowly but surely. I’m in the middle and going up!

I recently had a good chuckle when looking through my first Photomatix attempts from about one year ago. Stars Wars stuff I tell you.

If you want to get inspired like I am (in life and specifically with photography) then watch the Social Network and Steve Jobs movies, be mutually in love with a caring partner and follow the work / tutorials of Jimmy Mcintyre, Klaus Herrmann and Chris Arson. That should help you off to a good start at worst.

It was possibly after the sixth person in as so many weeks asked me how much money I would sell one of my photos for that I thought why not. The cost is minute so why do it?

It’s not for the money at all; it’s to fuel my passion even more.

One of my colleagues will soon have an A2 canvas stretched print of one of my photos (him and his cars) on his wall. An ex-colleague will soon have one of my seascapes behind his bar. These were the “free” ones.

I have some older photos that I will post in the weeks / months to come but for now please enjoy one of my recent efforts (Winklespruit Beach, South Africa). I like this photo as it was the moment that something sparked and I thought “You’ve improved Andy. You’re not as good as the best but you are slowly but surely getting better”.

Winkelspruit_4c (Large)Dedicated to my dear Mother Margaret Rose Harvard, and my loving partner Timol 

Cyclesphere Cycling lap 3 final

This is lap 3, the final, at Cyclesphere,  2 Gordon Road, Morningside Durban, where the owner Greg Albert and his friendly staff let me and my faithful Canon 550D “loose”.

2 (2) 2 (3) 2 (4) 2 (5) 2 (6) 2 (7) 2 (8) 2 (9) 2 (10) 2 (11) 2 (1)

Cyclesphere Cycling lap 2

This is lap 2 at Cyclesphere,  2 Gordon Road, Morningside Durban, where the owner Greg Albert and his friendly staff let me and my faithful Canon 550D “loose”.

1 (1) 1 (2) 1 (3) 1 (4) 1 (5) 1 (6) 1 (7) 1 (8) 1 (9) 1 (10) 1 (11)

Cyclesphere Cycling lap 1

This Saturday just gone, Tim invited me over to Cyclesphere at 2 Gordon Road, Morningside Durban  for a double cappuccino.

After getting energized outside on his really tasty caffeine injection, I abandoned Tim and went inside the cycle shop where the owner Greg Albert and his friendly staff let me and my faithful Canon 550D loose.

I think he alerted a common friend, “accident” Craig, who arrived and offered me another lens to try (forced it into my hands).

The one staff member was so helpful that he just kept on producing bicycle after bicycle for me to photograph without being asked.

The photos below serve only to flash some colour on your screen and show you how Tim’s coffee machine can “steam”. The nice photos will appear in the days to come.

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It’s gonna take some comparing

It’s gonna take some comparing to tell if the first set of photos at this location HDR 3 (high dynamic range) final have been improved on.

So if you have a minute, click on HDR 3 (high dynamic range) final, view the photos and then look below to see if the last 2 months of dabbling in HDR has reaped any positives (the quality of the HDR not the shot or view).

I’m using a Canon 550D with standard 18/55mm. Just discovered Magic Lantern to get more than 3 bracketed shots at once.

I leave ISO at 200, the F-stop is set depending on what the camera auto sets on AUTO mode (I gauge then set back to AV). I focus with auto then set back to M before shooting. The stabilizer is OFF.

Photomatix is my processing friend.  

Let me know what you think – I love hints and advice from any experts out there.

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My name is Andy and I am addicted

Tonight was supposed to be a no computer, no photos, no staying up late event with a movie.

What transpired has revealed that I have an addiction.

It was 30 minutes into the movie and I just had to have a small peep at my Canon 550D’s firmware.

According to Wikipedia:

In electronic systems and computing, firmware is the combination of persistent memory and program code and data stored in it“.

OMG! I only had version 1.0.6 when 1.09 was available right here.

So Andy did a quick download and then install using the Canon EOS software.

But hold on! He was still missing out.

I picked up some browsing snippets about extra firmware called ML – Magic Lantern, which added many features to the Canon.

My interest lay in one feature and one feature alone:

Are you a HDR enthusiast? 

Bracketing up to 9 frames with spacing from 0.5 to 5 EV should handle even the most difficult contre-jours“.

Yippee!! 9 frames when I was presently limited to 3 at a time.

I did another quick download and then install using my camera’s memory card in an external reader (copy all downloaded files onto the card – not in any folder on the card). This discovery was the make or break for me as the user manual was somewhat vague or I got confused.

The card was then returned to the camera on “P” or “M” setting I seem to recall (follow all the other manual instructions and READ THE WARNING about ML).

I may have used the EOS software again but did have to go to MENU & FIRMWARE VERSION to click on what was now there to activate. There were also “battery removals”.

Play around; you will get it right (with some computer and camera savvy) – at your own risk! (the Canon might stop working).

Of course I had to take any set of photos of anything to ensure that my “new” toy was working.

The settings were not important other than to see if I could choose 3, 6 or 9 bracketed photos – I went for 6 inside my lounge at night.

Success! Not the photo below, but “sure as water is wet” ML pumped out 6 photos at 1.5 spacing, which I chose.

Have fun if you don’t have ML and are going to try it (if you are a pro video or photo person you should have a look).

I am no pro but want my toy to pump out more than 3 bracketed photos, which it now does thanks to ML.

Now I can go and use this new feature on some better subjects

20130123_1st ML photos (1) (Large)