Blue hour and snowfall!

This past Sunday morning, I woke up to a beautiful snowfall and luckily for me, about 10 minutes before the blue hour (which actually lasts less than an hour). I tiptoed down the stairs so I wouldn’t wake up my wife and child, put some clothes and shoes on, and because it was snowing heavily, I took my Canon 7D (my only weather-sealed camera), along with the 10-22mm EF-S lens (which is also weather-sealed). I wanted an ultra-wide perspective to the photos and also the ability to shoot without a tripod at low shutter speeds. An ultra-wide lens lets you do that because of the “reciprocal rule”: as long as the shutter speed matches the focal length, you should get a good photo (provided you have steady hands). A 10-22mm lens would let me use shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, which is just what I did on some of the photos. Enjoy the gallery!

For those of you who love looking at camera gear (I know I do), here is a photo of the camera and lens I used.

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f:3.5-4.5 Lens

Winter photos from our garden

It’s been a hum-drum winter, I’ve said it before. It barely snows, and when it does, it melts right away. The temperatures hover between 0-10° Celsius, so it’s neither warm nor cold, just kind of annoying. I don’t know where the winters of my youth went, but I hope they come back at some point. I’m talking about snow that stays on the ground for weeks and months, big, thick, frequent snow that keeps the top layers fresh… Those kinds of winters are now only found in movies and fairy tales.

Fortunately, we humans are endowed with a little something called optimism. We can always call on that spirit and make the best of what we have. So the snow melts quickly. So be it. I’ll photograph the melting snow. The falling water drops make for great macro photographs.

This nifty lens I just bought, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm, has a Macro button on the side, which locks it in Macro mode and lets me get right up to the things I want to photograph, as you’ll see below. Not only is it a versatile 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, but it’s also a macro lens when I want it to be.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm Side View with Buttons
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm side view with buttons

I always shoot in RAW format, on any camera that’s capable of it, but with my E-P2, I forgot how good the JPG engine was. During my early morning outing a couple of days ago, I shot both RAW and JPG together (there’s an in-camera setting for that) and then I compared the photos in Lightroom. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the E-P2’s color reproduction is very good and the noise reduction algorithms built into the camera are actually better than Lightroom’s. Yeah, surprise! I pixel-peeped those images side by side and the JPG files were cleaner and had the colors I wanted, straight out of the camera. Guess what I did next? I switched my camera to JPG-only mode.

The photos you’ll see here are SOOC: JPG files produced by the camera, imported into Lightroom, where I added metadata and exported with no modifications to the colors, exposure, contrast, etc. Other than the metadata, I added nothing. Full disclosure: I bumped up the exposure on three snow photos that came out a little dark, but that’s it. I think you’ll agree with me when I say this little camera is pretty good!

Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2
Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2. Photographer: Thomas Hawk

Enjoy the photos!


This morning’s hoar frost

Hoar frost is a strange term, isn’t it? It comes from Middle English, circa 1300, is actually spelled “hoarfrost” over in England, and it means exactly what you’ll see in the photos I took this morning in our garden. Enjoy!

Finally, some snow!

After an unusually warm, humdrum winter in Romania, bereft of snow, we finally had some fairly heavy snowfall these past few days! I drove through a snowstorm the day before yesterday and when I got home, I got to enjoy the beautiful winter weather from inside our house, safe and warm.

I made a short vlog about this which you can watch here or on YouTube. Enjoy!

Glad to be back home!

A timelapse of the Bucegi Mountains

This is a timelapse video shot in the Bucegi mountains in Romania in spring (14-15 march 2017), more specifically in Fundățica village, Brașov county. The Bucegi mountains are part of the Carpathian Mountains and yes, they are near Bran Castle, which we all know from Bram Stoker’s novel, blah-blah-blah, vampires, blah-blah, winter snowstorm, nightfall, blah-blah, blood-sucking and all that jazz, yes, this text is intentional, hope you find it as funny as I do.

An April snowfall

I have a sneaking suspicion winter read my last post, because we got an April snowfall. It wasn’t an insignificant little weather fluke. It started snowing mid-morning and it went on through the day and the night, with little breaks here and there. The ground was warm so we didn’t get a proper snow cover but the next day, there was a fragile, melting, little blanket of the white stuff in the garden — proof that winter did its best against the warm weather.

Enjoy these photos. I took them a couple of hours after the snow started coming down.

A February snowfall

It’s been snowing today. I woke up to little snowflakes dancing in a light wind in our courtyard. It’s been like that all day. Every time I looked out the window, it put a smile on my face.

There’s something so beautiful about a February snowfall. It’s one of winter’s last few efforts before it gives way to spring. This sort of snow doesn’t ice up the roads. The weather isn’t so cold that it’s unbearable. It’s not like the frosts of early January that put icicles in your marrow should you stay outside too long. This is soft, warm snow that blankets the gardens and the patches of grass, sits every so gingerly on the branches of the trees and nestles inbetween the needles of the evergreens.

It’s like winter’s saying, “It’s been fun this season, I really enjoyed your company. Here’s a parting gift to remember me during the warm seasons.” I love this sort of snow. I love winter. I love a crackling fire in the fireplace, a warm cup of coffee or tea in my hand and the dance of snowflakes outside my window. These sorts of experiences are the high points in our busy lives, and we should enjoy them more.

Well, a blond little girl named Sophie is tugging at my sleeve, I guess it’s time to go.